In 1997 my little church’s youth group went to an event by the group Teen Mania that did youth mission trips all over the world. I wanted to go to Alaska. My little church helped me raise money for the trip, they gave me money, they helped me do a car wash, we sold food. My grandparents, the same ones who took me to the little church, gave me a loan and I was on my way in the summer of 1998.
Going to Alaska for almost a month changed my life. I got focused. On that trip I ate peanut butter and jelly almost every day for lunch. I talked to Jesus and read my Bible every single day. I was surrounded by God’s beauty and traveling with a group that loved God. Some of the friends I made on that trip are still part of my life even today. In Alaska I was awestruck by how much God loves everyone.
So many things happened during that trip that made it clear to me that God is real. A friend was healed of major back pain for the entire trip. We prayed with runaways. We prayed with strangers on the beach. We saw a baby humpback whale and it rocked our boat. We saw a glacier up close and saw blocks of ice fall into a lake. We climbed a mountain. We saw God working. We walked around praying for cities and people and sharing God’s love.
In those days Jesus became my very best friend.