Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ready. Set. Go.



Aloha y’all!

In true Jessica fashion, I have something BIG to share and I’m announcing it via social media. And as usual, I’m nervous as heck.

I’ve had a lot going on the past few years. Many of you followed my story of heartbreak when I lost my best friend. And then again when I lost Duke. Then you followed me back to Hawaii, where I began my redemption story.

The incredible network of people that I’ve built around me during the past 29 years of life has truly been a huge part of what has pulled me through these trying times. And I’m hoping that network comes through for me again, because I have no doubt that everything that has happened to me, every single person that I’ve met, is what’s lead me to this exact place. A place that is about to rock my entire world.

Let’s take a step back to the summer of 2015. At Church one Sunday, our pastor asked us to think about a time that we felt fulfilled, a time that we felt like we were living out our purpose. And then he asked us to pray about that time and ask ourselves why we aren’t living that way every day. It took me no time at all to point my thoughts towards my experiences in Uganda. I spent a month there in 2005 doing mission work with my youth group. Everyone close to me said I came back as a different person. It changed me. It moved me. And I’ve dreamt of going back to Africa, of travel, and especially of mission work ever since. I know it sounds cliché, but I really feel so much joy in helping others. And the more life I live, the more I feel like that is what I’m called to do. But there I was, 10 years later, asking myself why I hadn’t chased after those dreams. And more importantly, why I hadn’t pursued what I felt was my calling.

Before leaving Church that night, I introduced myself to a girl I hadn’t seen there before. Within a few seconds of conversation, she told me she would be leaving Hawaii the following month. She had joined the World Race – A Christian-based mission trip that takes you to 11 countries in 11 months. My eyes grew big and watered up. I had just prayed about this! We spent nearly an hour after that talking and she excitedly answered the millions of questions I had. We exchanged contact information and I spent the next several months following her journey.

Now fast forward to August 2016, about a year later. I was at a crossroads in my life (more on that later) and felt an overwhelming desire for more. But more of what?

As I was scrolling through facebook, I saw a recent post from the same girl I met that night in 2015. She was back home in Hawaii! I read through her post feeling joy for her and then I sat back and thought – holy moly. This meant that a year had passed. A year of me watching her live a life that I admired. A life that I felt called to live. Yet I was still here, not living it. Why? After a lot of prayer, I realized there was only one reason. Fear. And I am so dang tired of living a fearful life. Interestingly enough, many of you view me as a strong, adventurous, fearless person. But man, I sure don’t feel that way. My great friend and mentor described it in a way that really stuck with me. She said I’m like a person who was once very overweight, then lost the weight, but when I look into a mirror, I still see all of it. All of the weight. All of the baggage. All of the brokenness. All of the stuff weighing me down. I don’t see myself the way others do. I don’t see myself the way God does.

It's time to change that.

I applied to the World Race that day. And as of a few days ago, I was officially accepted.

What does this mean? It means in January 2017, I will embark on an adventure of a lifetime. I will visit 11 countries in 11 months, serving others while serving God.

I am TERRIFIED. But man I am so excited.

Where will I go? Official route is below!
Month 1/ January – Colombia
Month 2/ February – Ecuador
Month 3/ March – Peru
Month 4/ April – Cote d’Ivoire
Month 5/ May – Ghana
Month 6/ June – Burkina Faso
Month 7/ July – Montenegro
Month 8/ August – Romania
Month 9/ September – Cambodia
Month 10/ October – Thailand
Month 11/ November – Malaysia

What will I do? Missions in each country will vary based on the needs of each place. I could be doing anything from building houses, to teaching English, to working at an orphanage. Oh, and part of my responsibility as a world racer is to blog about my experiences and share via social media (I mean really, this was made for me).

How can you help? Glad you asked, because I need your help big time!

+ DONATE YOUR FUNDS!
I need to raise $16,617 to fund this trip! This includes travel, lodging, food, and medical insurance for the entire trip. (breakdown of details coming in a later blog post) I will cry if you donate $1982017837 and I will cry just as much if you donate $5. Seriously, I can’t put in words how much everyone’s support means to me. Every single penny counts.
You can donate by clicking the donate button at jessicamarietaylor.theworldrace.org or at gofundme.com/jmtworldrace

+ BUY MY STUFF!
I’m selling pretty much everything before I leave in January. Holler at me if you’re in need of household goods, furniture, cool random stuff, and cute clothes.

+ GIFT ME SOME GEAR!
Y’all, I don’t know a darn thing about camping or outdoor life. So this next year should be interesting to say the least. Have any extra gear laying around? Or just wanna give me tips? Please do!

+ DONATE MILES!
Something that’s not included in the total cost are my flights to and from training camp (in Georgia), my flight to launch, and my flight back home after our final destination.

+ DONATE YOUR TIME!
Did I mention that I’m terrified? Hike with me. Walk with me. Talk with me. Pray with me. Send me that stupid funny text (you know I’ll laugh at it) and random words of encouragement. I need you now more than ever.

+ SPREAD THE WORD!
Seriously, tell anyone and everyone.

+ PRAY!
Last but most definitely not least, please pray hard.

Guys, I’m meant to do this. I know it in my heart down to my bones.

Ready. Set. Go.

P.S. You can follow me every step of the way.
Blog: jessicamarietaylor.theworldrace.org
Facebook: facebook.com/jessicawho.me
Instagram: @jayemmtee
Twitter: @jayemmtee
GoFundMe: gofundme.com/jmtworldrace


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