Could Spring Break in Costa Rica Change Your Life?

Scared? Nervous? Sense that you won’t belong? Do it anyway…

I grew up in a household where religion was forgotten on the backburner. I went to church as a kid with my friends, but that was strictly to spend time with them. I was THAT person who didn’t know that Baylor was a Christian University (thanks, CommonApp) until I arrived here on my first day of Orientation in Waco Hall. If you had told me, at that moment, that I would find myself on a Baylor Mission Trip that would change my life forever, I would have thought you were insane.

Months before my trip, in my leadership course, my professor, Dr. Randy Wood, required all of his students to schedule a mandatory office visit with him to get to know each us better, so he could support us academically. I walked into his office, and I kid you not, he had MILLIONS of Toucan figurines. It was impossible not to address the elephant in the room: “What’s up with all the toucans?” He began to share with me about a mission trip in Costa Rica that he had been supervising for the past ten years. We discussed how I wanted to serve and was looking for an opportunity recently, but after that office visit, we failed to discuss the possibility of me going on the trip again. I am an independent student with little money and no religious affiliation, so I figured it wouldn’t be right for me to go on this trip anyway.

Returning to school after Winter Break, there was something in my life that was missing, and I knew it was my lack of servitude. I emailed Dr. Wood and asked if there were any spots left for his spring break trip. I was too late. Then, three weeks later… I got a call from Dr. Wood, and he explained that he felt wrong turning me away from the trip, so he did everything in his power to get an extra seat, for me, a girl he had only met five months ago. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be able to thank him enough.

Packing and preparing for the trip, my nerves set in hard. I had never gone outside of the country without a parent, nor with a group of strangers that I would have to spend every waking moment with for the next week. What do I pack? What do I not pack? Should I be going on this trip? Should I back out? WHAT AM I DOING!?

Not a moment of that trip was forgettable. From the international flight meals, to the bus zooming through the tiny Costa Rican roads, to teaching English to some of the smartest and most amazing students I have ever met, to the leisure days of ziplining and beach time, and to the incredible friendships that I made with people I probably would have never met if it wasn’t for this trip. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the FOOD!!

I returned home with a sense of purpose, a sense of self-worth, a sense of community outside of my everyday environment, and a goal to serve for the rest of my life. I plan to go back to Costa Rica to help, encourage, and serve the same schools and students that I came in contact with, as well as find more opportunities to impact and be impacted by other places, people, and cultures.

I believe that it was fear that drove me to a foreign place, and a discovered passion that made me fall in love with what I was doing. And for that, I can thank Baylor University, Baylor Missions, my amazing Costa Rica SOE Team, and the students and teachers who were eager to learn from me and not make fun of my poor Spanish (too much).

I was terrified, incredibly nervous, and I felt alone. But by trusting myself, I am now able to share my incredible experience here with you.

If you are to take away anything from this entry, let it be this: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” -Babe Ruth

Sadie Fielding is a Junior Medical Humanities major at Baylor.

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