For the past year I have lived out of a backpack, and I kind of miss it. I don’t miss living out of a backpack per se, but I miss the lifestyle that came along with the pack. After I graduated from Elon in May of 2008, I participated in a program called “The World Race.” In September 2008 I jumped into a group of fifty strangers, was put on a team of seven (we joked we had been put in an arranged marriage to six other people) and traveled around the world doing mission work. We would stay in each country for about a month, and then move on.
You may be wondering what would motivate me to do such a thing, and when it comes down to it…I’m not sure. But I do know that in the past year I learned more about who I am (the good and the ugly), really began to see who God is, and felt just an inkling of the love He has for people all over the world. With all of the hurt and suffering I came face-to-face with, I wouldn’t have survived without knowing who He is.
Nothing was predictable. We changed culture, climate, language, currency, schedule, and activities every month. We traveled on planes, crowded overnight sleeper trains, buses (on bumpy dirt roads without AC for DAYS!), taxis, rickshaws, by foot…you name it, we probably did it. I made friends with the poor living in trash in the Philippines, those who lost loved ones in the devastating earthquake in China, and street children and survivors of the violent 2007 Kenyan election.
We befriended those with great needs living by daily faith in Uganda and Tanzania, rescued sex-slaves and prostitutes in India, those who had grown up knowing nothing but oppression in Ukraine, and the Roma (“gypsy”) people who are ostracized from the rest of society in Romania. We made friends with those better off financially but losing themselves spiritually in Slovakia, orphans and others in need in Guatemala, and Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica.
There are still times when these faces and their heartaches haunt me. I stumble upon something in a magazine or online, or just look around a single small room and remember how in most places of the world whole families would live in that space. I realize how blessed I am materially, and yet also realize there is so much I have to learn from those I met. They taught me so much about faith, giving without restraint, servanthood and humility. I want to be like them.
Although I don’t know where or what exactly my role will be, I’ve realized there is nothing else I want to do with my life. If you want to hear more about my experiences you can visit the blog I kept throughout the year: http://elizabethadcock.theworldrace.org, and read my next two alumni blogs where I will share about specific places and ministries.