Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone?

October 20, 2016

embracingtheunexpected-com-12 I had finally said yes to something that had pulled at my heart for years. I chose to get out of my comfort zone and take my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic. As we traveled, I grew wearier from lack of sleep, and I began to question the value of such a trip.

Questions jumped out at me, “What did I have to offer?”  “Would communication be impossible?” As I looked around at my team of 34, the accountant in me started adding up the chunk of money each of us had expended. The logical side of me thought,

“Maybe we should have stayed home and sent our money instead?”

As we landed and traveled to our destination for the night, my heart was filled with such sadness. As I looked around, the startling fact was I had so much, and they had so little. I kept thinking “How could my team or little ole me make much of a difference in this country when the needs are so great?” “Wouldn’t my money go further instead of me being here?”

We pulled into our compound for the night where people were crowding around. The gate shut behind us, and as I looked back, I saw the sad faces and arms reaching in begging for something.

As we settled into our room, I quietly sat and listened intently to those that had come here before. They would well up with excitement and burst out with memories. One young lady got everyone roaring when she reminisced about the tarantula in the shower. How could one see the humor in that? Thinking quietly to myself; – “I hate camping so why on earth did I think a trip like this would be fun?

As we settled into the steel bunks that swayed as you breathe, I was sure I had a made a mistake. This trip was not for me; I should have sent money. Yes, my heart felt sad for the people with less but to be honest, at this moment, I was missing the conveniences of home. I wanted my air conditioning, my lovely clean bed, and a warm shower – tarantula-free.

Surely I must have misheard God.

I lay awake all night staring at the opening on the wall, which was a window with no glass. I wondered and imagined the creatures that were making their way into our beds.

We awakened in the morning, and I just could not understand this excitement that permeated the room from those that had been here before. I just wanted to go home. I looked at my 14-year-old daughter and thought to myself “What have I gotten us into?” She had that look of – how could her mother have thought this was a good idea?

Whispering to my daughter so no one would hear, “Do you think Dad would fly us home?”

We struggled through breakfast, exhausted and dirty. We were curious about the excitement of those that had been here before.

I reminded myself, I am not a quitter. So, I set out for the day to embrace it and give it my all. I didn’t share with a soul what was going on inside my mind, as I wasn’t proud of my self-focused thoughts.

After all, look around – they have so little, and I have so much.

It was time – the big gate drew to the side and let us out into their world. I stepped out into the world that was foreign to me. I felt so inadequate to help and couldn’t understand how I would be able to communicate with my limited knowledge of the Spanish language.

1As we walked down their streets, they pulled us into their homes. The families would scurry about borrowing chairs from their neighbors so we would all have a seat. They had little to offer but what was theirs was ours.

The families would cut fruit from their trees and share what they had. They showed no embarrassment about what they had or didn’t have. They were genuine people ready to love and be loved.

It was hospitality; I had never experienced before.

These were God’s people. The people I wanted standing with me in heaven.

Looking into those faces, holding their babies, and loving the people, God’s people – were all that mattered.  It didn’t matter if they were dirty, poor, or different.

The thoughts of flying home were erased all at once, and I was all in. The conveniences of home lost all their appeal. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

My life was forever changed on that first day. I learned that entering into someone else’s world was a mighty privilege. A privilege to be honored and cherished. I discovered language was not a barrier to loving God’s people. The universal language of a smile and a hug speaks volumes. Hugs and smiles penetrated into the crevices of our hearts more than words ever could.

Little did I know these were lessons that would serve me well later in life. God was preparing me for what was ahead. But for now, I was learning to love and be loved by people that were not exactly like me.

I went on a mission trip to give, but an unexpected thing happened that day. I received more than I ever gave. To think that had I never stepped out of my comfort zone – I would have missed those wonderful lessons that God had for me on that special day.

With a heart full of love I laid my head down for the night excited for what was ahead. I could hardly wait to find out if our team of 34 could build a church that was better than sending money.

If you would like to read part two of this story click the title:  Is Sending Money Worth More Than Going?




Join our community at Embracing the Unexpected – sign up today to receive posts straight to your inbox along with a small gift.






  1. Reply

    Lori Schumaker

    God is the BEST! We follow Him, surrender, and sacrifice but then we walk away the ones blessed beyond measure ♥ What precious pictures. I’m looking into mission trips right now. I want my eldest and I to do one together so am praying about where and when God is sending us.
    Thanks, my friend, for joining me at #MomentsofHope! You are a blessing!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      I am so excited that you are looking into going with your eldest son. I am joining you in prayer right now. #MomentsofHope is such a blessing to me. Thank you for hosting a great website and link-up.

      Yes, GOd is the BEST!


  2. Reply


    I think that’s exactly what happens when we say yes to anything God calls us to do… that is, we get so much more than we ever give away. But then that’s God, isn’t it? He always gives and gives and gives until we are overflowing! thanks for sharing your experience and lessons!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee


      I think you are 100% correct. It is so true every time I have said yes to what calls me to I get so much more out of it. Funny I had applied that to mission trips, but I think it applies across the board. Thank you for the realization. I pray your day is overflowing with GOd’s goodness today. Blessings, Maree

  3. Reply


    I’m so glad you stuck around and experienced the love and enthusiasm of these people, Mary Dee. What a life-transformational experience! I’ve never done a mission trip like you went on before, though my church goes to El Salvador and Africa every year. They all tell stories that are very similar to yours. It is such a blessing to give in that way and experience the connection we have with others through the Lord that surpasses our languages and cultures.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Oh, Beth, I hope one day you can go on a mission trip. I can guarantee it will be life changing. I have found the lessons learned at the time were foggy but as time goes by they become clearer and clearer. Just the other night I attended a leadership meeting at church by myself. As I walked in, I spotted one my teammates from over ten years ago. It brought an instant reminder of the connection we formed years ago. We no longer serve in the same areas, but the bond remains.

  4. Reply


    Sometimes, like the Laodecians of Bible times, we become complacent because we have so much. Seeing that others have so much less is a wake up call sometimes. Thanks so much for sharing the brave journey you took :0)

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      I agree it is a big wake-up call. I think one we need to see from time to time. My trips to the DR were years ago, but recently I was again awakened to how much we have and so little that others have. I believe we can all make a small difference if we just step out of our comfort zone.

  5. Reply


    Love this story and appreciate such gut-level honesty. What a sweet experience the Lord allowed you to have first hand. A powerful thought: “These were God’s people. The people I wanted standing with me in heaven.” Oh, so good. Thanks for this word today.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Karen – What is so amazing is not what I learned while I was there, but how those trips to the DR prepared me for the work, I do now at home. I had no idea at the time. In fact, I fell in love with short term mission trips and was sure that was where God was calling me. I was so wrong instead he used the trip to prepare me for what I do now. Thank you for stopping by. I love talking about mission trips. Blessings, Maree

  6. Reply


    I really enjoyed your story. I’ve always wanted to go on a mission’s trip but have never yet had the opportunity to do so. I like your points about how we need to be willing to get out of our comfort zones. I think that is so important in almost every area of our lives, yet easier said than done.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Rosanna, You are so right it is so important to be willing to get out of our comfort zone right where we are planted. I had no idea at the time God was preparing me for something else that would require my willingness to get out of my comfort zone. Never in a million years did I think it would be for writing, speaking, and advocating for those with mental health challenges. I hope you do get an opportunity to go on a mission trip. It will change your life. Blessings, Maree

  7. Reply


    Wow! What a beautiful outlook. I am so glad you allowed your heart to be open to God during your time in the Dominican Republic and chose to be open to the experience and culture there. I’ve found during all of my cross-cultural experiences it’s not until I allow myself to fully embrace my time there and fully open up and allow God to use me and change me do I get the most out of all my trips and experiences.

    Also, thank you for explaining how to subscribe to your blog. It made it very easy for me to sign up to receive emails when you post! I’m looking forward to your next post on Tuesday and getting the post straight to my email! Makes it so much easier! I love reading your blogs and never want to miss a post!!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      I think you are on to something. I agree to allow yourself to embrace the experience fully would make a huge difference. I traveled back many times, and each time electronics got easier to use. I found the experience to be best when I was totally emersed and cut off from the world at home. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to travel and be part of more cross-cultural experiences. It sounds like you have had few.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: