There's nothing like being told how you will live the rest of your life.
It was just another yearly cardiologist appointment when I learned that my dreams just might not come true. I had been on many trips as my rising passion was for traveling and missions. Virginia, Kentucky, Washington DC, and most recently to Jamaica, where I truly fell in love with other cultures. Scoping out my next destination, I began looking at Covenant Bible College in Ecuador. How amazing would it be to learn about missions in a place like that? I began making plans for it and even applied. I talked to friends who had been to school there, and they encouraged me to go, knowing I would take a lot from my experiences there.
Literally four months later, I sat in the doctor's office, listening to the blunt truth from my cardiologist. Traveling to 3rd world countries wasn't the greatest of ideas for a person with my condition. He also went into many other straight-forward analysis about my future, such as not being able to have kids or living past 40. At 20 years old, I felt like my life was over. How could I live a life without living out my passion for 3rd world missions and cultures, let alone not being able to provide a family later? I spent the next weeks in depression, not able to fathom what was next for me.
Later that summer, the Dominican team had returned from one of their trips, and shared with the congregation. They showed pictures of their working and of the people they shared with there. I sat next to one of the people who went on that trip, Gene McClellan, and he leaned over and said "Ashley, you would do amazing on one of those trips." I wasn't only stunned by his words, but something had been set aflame within me again. I couldn't even explain it. Gene had no clue what my doctor had told me. No one but I had.
I decided to write my name on the list for the next trip, allowing God to do what He wanted with it.
Before I knew it, I was on a plane to the Dominican with 25 other people from our church, not knowing what to expect. God had provided the money for my trip, and I really didn't understand how it had all come together, but it had. I would have been in Ecuador at this time, but instead God had some other plans for me.
Upon the conclusion of our trip, I realized that I was more than capable to do missions work here, because God endorsed it.
Now my passion for the community of Los Alcarrizos is strong, and God continues to use me there. I found out a month after our trip that CBC, the school in Ecuador that I was looking at attending, had shut it's doors. God had sent me a huge message - that He had better plans for me, and that He would provide my dreams. His plan was far greater than what I had in mind. I'm so close to the people I've been on trips with, and I'm more passionate about missions than I've ever been. I know God still has a bright future for me.
God won't let your dreams die; He'll just show you the ones He has in mind for you. They are far better.