The Psalm 91 Traveler by Monica Moreland
How I Got on This Path
After I graduated high school, I had my first taste of international travel when I traveled with my family to Mexico. Then, during college I went to both Belize and the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Canada with my churchinternship program. I discuss all three of those trips later in the book, but what truly started me on this life of travel and adventure was right after college.
To lead up to that moment,I will need to start with God’s direction from the end of high school. I was deeply involved in soccer during high school, and I was looking to possibly go to the University of Kansas with a soccer scholarship because my off- season soccer coach was the assistant coach there. However, God helped me to see the advantages of going to a smaller university where there were many members of my church. I had invited the coach at the University of Central Missouri (which was called Central Missouri State University at the time) to come watch one of my high school games. He offered me a scholarship to play, and I trained all summer in preparation.
A coupleweeks before the season would start, I found out that I needed to have a minor surgery. I was very sad because I would not be allowed to play that first season, but God knew best. He knew how important my time at my youth group would be in guiding me to the path that he had set before me. Soccer games would often be played on Thursdays nights, and all players were not allowed to be seen on Pine Street (which is a two-block stretch in town that had 6 pubs and our youth group’s storefront gathering place).
When the second season rolled around, I felt that it was best for me to not miss my youth group meetings, and by my junior year, I was selected as president of the group of over 80-100 members. I missed soccer, but this was the better path for me.
During my senior year,I was praying a lot about what my next step was in life...jobs, relationships, etc. As I was pursuing a degree in journalism, I applied for different newspapers and was a finalist for a national copy editor competition. I was offered a job in Vermont, but they required that I sign at least a two-year contract. I didn’t want to be away that long, so I turned it down. When I went in for an interview with The Kansas City Star, they asked if I would stay for the full eight-hour shift to get a feel for it. All was going well with the testing and practices, but about 4 hours into the shift, I hated it. It was not like working on a high school or college paper. It would be a 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. job Monday through Saturday, and they just sat there and edited in silence. I asked them if I could leave. Now what?
I had just turned down the best two shots of getting a job in journalism, and I did not know where I was headed. I decided to pray for God’s direction more strongly. That Thursday at our youth group meeting, some people from the YouthMissionary Corp from my church came to share about how God had led them to do
missionary work. I felt that God’s spirit came over me and assured me that this was God’s plan. I sent in my information, but they did not have any other entries. They only send people out by twos.
Alright, God, I did as you asked. What’s the plan? Well, our mission in Taiwan had a bunch of young people attending, and the missionaries running it were much older. The group in charge of the Taiwan Mission was SEAAM (Southeast Asian and Australian Ministries), and they were looking for a single person willing to go over for at least six months to a year to help bridge the gap and help with mission activities and classes. The Youth Missionary Corp sent SEAAM my name, and they contacted me. I knew that this was my answer and the direction that God was leading me.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the life it would take me down by following that path. Listening to God’s promptings and opening up my life to wherever he sends me has certainly been a wild ride, but I love each memory and I’m thankful for each opportunity to travel and to serve.Here are some of the tales of my crazy walk with God and hisinfinite blessings!
~Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 Crossing the Drake Passage
One of the highlights of all of my travels is my trip to Antarctica. Its pristine beautyand breathtaking icebergswill forever live on in my memory as one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen...pun intended.
Once I reached six continents, I really had to look into the infamous number 7. Not that many people I know have ever been to all 7, but when I meet those that have, there is a real connection. I found myself on a boat from Argentinato Antarctica with several people excitedly looking forward to touching down on their final continent as well. I was going alone, and I had put this trip in the middle of an epic 5-week expedition through South America, reaching Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Easter Island (which is part of Chile). From the tip of Argentina in the quaint little town of Ushuaia, I would board a research vessel with a couple hundred other people to take an 11-day cruise over to the AntarcticPeninsula.
Before traveling on the ship, we all stay one night in a hotel in Ushuaia and start registration. The ship will come in and drop off the previous group, and then a few hours later we will board and take off. We would have time in the hotel lobby to meet up with those who just returnedand ask questions. One thing we all heard was that the swells through the Drake Passage were huge. It is the most dangerous place to travel by boat in the world. They warned us that if the swells got too big, then everyone was required to stay in their little rooms with their bunk mates, and the staff would bring you food. Yeah, that’s not okay with me. I am okay with the little roomson ships becauseI know that I am usually only in there to sleep temporarily. Being forced to stay in them during the two- day crossing would bring out my claustrophobic side in epicproportions. Many people returning had gotten sick because of the ride, and they had spent a little time confined to their rooms because of the10-12 meter swells. I started to pray. Oh, please,
Lord, don’t let that happen to us. I knew that I was petitioning the one who is in chargeof all things, and I remembered the story fromthe Bible of Jesus calming the waters during the storm. I wasn’t asking too much! It was a miracle he’d already performed. I left it up to him and grabbed my bag.
I would be staying in a room with two other ladies on the second floor, and each of us received a small foam triangle to put under one side of our mattress so we wouldn’troll out if the boat started to sway with the swells. Here we go!
As we took off, we saw dolphins in the water ahead of our ship, and a whale breached quite nicely just in back of us as we passed. I was so excited! When I entered the large meeting room on the upper floor, I met several others who travel extensively like me and were ready tocomplete the continents. On the tables, they had spread out travel magazines, which is like cocaine for people like us. It’s an addiction! Once you start to travel, you just can’t stop. There are so many incredible places that God has createdthat you just want to see it all. Our ship travels to Antarctica between October and March, and then it goes up to Norway and the surrounding area for the rest of the year. I was very interested in visiting the Norwegian fjords.
As our ship is a research boat and not a cruise liner, we are allowed to make more stops in Antarctica and actually get off and visit places. We would stop for five days, twice a day in differentplaces. Our schedule was amazing! However, getting off in Antarctica is a great responsibility. It is not like traveling to Europe or Australia. Our goal was to explore it without blemishing it.
Leave as small a footprint as possible and respect its beauty while becoming an ambassador for Antarctic issues. We have experts of different sorts on board, and we spend our days learningabout how to protect Antarctica and about the animals and places we will see. They issue us heavy red coats to wear and boots. We go through a specific process of cleaning our boots and stepping in solution on our way on and off the boat to try not to contaminate the places we visit. We have all of the pockets and stuff we will wear vacuumed out, and we are not allowed to bring small items that we could drop, like tissues or cough drop wrappers.
My favoritelesson was about the penguinsand the whales.As we were going over in March, we will see the “teenage” penguins.