MEET ALEXIS HOLMAN: she overcame her anxiety, set foot on foreign ground, and learned forgiveness 101.
How did you first feel called to go to Ecuador?
The first time that my church went on mission to Ecuador, I was interested as soon as I heard about it. However, I let anxiety get the best of me. I made up excuses and played it safe by staying in my comfort zone. I brushed it off and said, “Maybe next year.” I only halfway meant it, but my dad didn’t let me forget. He knew I just needed a little push in that direction. With encouragement from my family and after lots of prayer, I decided not to let my anxieties make the decision for me. I was terrified and practically had to be dragged through the airport to get there, but once I finally got there, I quickly fell in love with everything about Ecuador -- the countryside, the people, the culture, the Church and they way they so passionately love God. Now, Ecuador feels like home, and I can’t get enough.
During the past three summers in Ecuador, you’ve helped lead vacation Bible schools for the children there. After serving and working with children internationally, what’s one thing you’ve noticed that all children, American or otherwise, have in common?
All children want to be loved. Whether they are from my tiny hometown in South Carolina or deep in the jungle of Chinimbimi, Ecuador, children are curious and love to play. Children’s first instinct is to love, and that love transcends language barriers. Children are also eager to learn about anything and everything. They’re curious about my iPhone’s camera and my blonde hair; they want to learn hand-clapping games and play them over and over, and they want to hear what you have to say about the gospel and what it means for them.
What have you learned by serving?
On mission is where I most clearly hear God’s voice. Each year that I’ve travelled to Ecuador, God has taught me a very specific lesson. My first summer in Ecuador, God opened my eyes to the resentment I had been holding in my heart for people in my life. For lack of better words, it was like a slap in the face. God served me a slice of humble pie and taught me Forgiveness 101. The second year, God shook my ego up again. I was frustrated and I wanted to see radical change, and fast. I doubted people’s authenticity. That week, God taught me patience and gently reminded me that I was but one step in a long process. Sometimes, it’s not always your job to reap the harvest. Sometimes, you’re just there to plant the seed, water it, fertilize it, or even clear the weeds away. This past year, my heart ached at the thought of leaving before the trip was even halfway over. This place and these people are my heart, and although I’m not sure what my future holds, God confirmed to me that He’s just getting started with His plans for me in Ecuador.
What did you learn through fundraising for your trips?
Through fundraising for trips to Ecuador, I have learned that no matter how large and unattainable a goal may seem at first, God will provide. People are willing and eager to give to a good cause. The generosity I’ve experienced from friends, family, church members, and even strangers has left me amazed. In my experience, I’ve seen so many people turn away from the idea of serving on a mission trip because of the costs. But if God wants to use you, He will provide a way. And believe me, He wants to use you.
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about mission trips?
I wish people knew, and I wish that I could properly explain, just how life-giving mission trips are. Before I went on my first trip to Ecuador, I was so focused on how God would change the lives of the people there. What I didn’t expect was just how much it would change my own heart. Ecuador has made a life-long impact on me and blessed me beyond belief. It changed the way I think, the way I live, and the way I share Jesus with others. I believe that anyone who is able to go on a mission trip should absolutely go. Hearing about it is one thing, but going is completely different.