Ashley Vizcarra (21) is sitting across from me in a rather trendy coffee shop about 10 minutes away from the school we both attend. Our table is covered with the standard college student paraphernalia: books, laptops, cell phones, and iced coffee. We are two of the 20ish students in the room. Despite the piles of schoolwork sitting on our table, we have gotten very little done, because Ashley is busy enthusiastically telling me about her upcoming trip.
I have gotten to know Ashley pretty well over the past year. On the surface she is many things: an Animal Science Student, a cowgirl, and a leader; but if you spend any time with her at all, you will realize that these labels don’t do justice.
What makes Ashley so special is her passion. She is genuinely excited about everything she takes part in, from school, to church, to friendship. In a society so often defined by apathy, it is honestly astounding to see how much she truly cares about everything she does. I am convinced she spends more time smiling in one week than I do in a year.
In 26 days, Ashley is going to Puerto Rico.
Q: So why are you going to Puerto Rico? That seems like a pretty exotic trip for a college student.
A: I’m going on a missions trip! I have the opportunity to spend a week in the city of Mayaguez, along with a team of high school and college students.
Q: That’s awesome! What do you know about the trip?
A: This group has only been to Puerto Rico once before, so I’m still a little unsure of the exact details. They see a lot of promise there, which is why we are going back. We are going to be reaching out to high school students, going around to different schools sharing about Jesus. Our hope is to lead students to Christ, and to strengthen the faith of those who already know him by fostering their sense of community.
Q: What made you want to go on a missions trip?
A: For most of my life, I wasn’t particularly interested in missions work. I never felt the call to go, which I thought was kind of weird. I compared myself to a lot of other people in Cru.
But recently, I went to a conference in LA, and I felt like God was nudging me to look into going to Puerto Rico. I love working with high school students, and I felt like this was a really great opportunity for me to step out in faith.
So really it wasn’t so much me wanting to go, it was more God asking me to be obedient to him. I got the call, now I need to go.
Q: So this is your first missions trip? Is there anything about going that scares you?
A: I’ve said my whole life that I’m willing to do anything for Christ, but I never necessarily knew what that meant.
I am very detail oriented. I plan out my entire life. Too often I like to go with my plan rather than His. I’m kind of afraid that after all these years of me knowing what I want to do with my life, He is going to tell me to drop it all and go somewhere else. That’s petrifying for me.
I think this fear is something that strikes at the heart of how all of us approach Christian ministry. It is something we like the thought of, but the second God asks us to compromise our plan for his, we balk.
Too often we assume our plan is better than God’s. When we look at the idea of “going”, leaving behind our plans for his, all we see is the cost. Our education, our careers, our relationships, our finances, and our time are all things that we might be called to give up parts of in order to pursue a plan greater than our own.
Yet despite the cost, there is so much beauty to be found in going. To be a part of something significant, something that really matters, is a reward greater than anything it could cost. Going doesn’t always look like international missions work, but making room for God’s plan is always for our joy.
Ashley is intent on going.
Q: Do you think missions trips like this have a tangible impact? What do you think the result of your time in Puerto Rico will be?
A: I know they do. Why? I’m going because God is calling me there, and if He is calling me, then he is obviously going to be doing some great things. I just get to be a part of it. I know that at the very least it is going to life changing for me, and I truly believe that God wants to show these communities who Christ is.
Q: Do you have any more challenges to overcome before you leave?
A: I still have to raise support for my trip, which is really scary. I haven’t done this before, but at this point I’m going. I can’t back out now. I have to trust that God will make it possible for me to get there, just like I have to trust that he will do great things once I make it.
I’m excited and I’m scared, all rolled into one. I know this trip is going to be life changing for someone; maybe not just for me.
Ashley’s excitement for this ministry is infectious. Every time I hear about her trip, I am even more intrigued with what God is going to do through her in Puerto Rico. My hope is that after hearing Ashley’s thoughts on going, you are excited too.
For those of us who aren’t necessarily called to go, helping those who are is a great way to step out in faith. Ashley is still looking for a team to support her trip to Puerto Rico, both with prayer and financial support. If you would like to be a part of the awesome work she is doing,
donate here. (Post Trip Edit: Ashley’s trip went well, and her team saw God working in so many ways in the lives of students in Puerto Rico. Thank you to everyone who helped send her, or prayed for her trip.)