Overlanding and the Missionary Launch

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My husband and I have recently decided to take up overlanding—a combination of off-roading, camping, and traveling to remote places not explored by the general public.

This spring, we took our very first trip to the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. We spent our first night in a campground and the following morning exploring Elephant Rock State Park and Johnson Shut-Ins, both gorgeous places frequented by many people.

Early in the afternoon, we made our way to the national forest to explore the back roads. The deeper we traveled into the forest, the fewer people we encountered and the lonelier it felt. But we were still having a wonderful time. However, as evening approached and the sky looked more and more heavy with storm clouds, we decided we needed to find a place to set up camp for the night. In many national forests, you can camp for free anywhere you find a good spot, as long as you do not leave trash lying around when you leave.

With rain approaching, we headed down a little two-track—an ungraded dirt and rock path formed by vehicle traffic—to see what we could find. At the bottom of a long hill, we found a little clearing surrounded by Red Bud and Dogwood trees in full bloom. The glade also sported a small fire pit. Perfect! We set up camp and made supper while listening to the distant rumble of thunder.

There was no cell signal down in the little holler, and we felt quite cut off from the world, especially with a Missouri storm approaching. We started worrying about what would happen if the storm became severe overnight and blew down trees on the road. How would we get out? We had forgotten to bring a saw. Also, no one in the world knew where we were. What if our battery drained overnight while the car was off because of the equipment it was powering? Would the jump starter be powerful enough to get us started again? With all these questions running through our heads, we began to feel more and more alone.

We decided to climb the hill to see if we could find a cell signal to let our children know where we were. It felt so good to see those two bars appear on my phone, indicating the signal strength, and to be able to hear their voices on the other end of the line. We sent them our location in case of an emergency, and we walked back down the hill feeling reassured that we were not alone after all.

I think this is how many of our missionaries feel when they launch. While it can seem like a grand adventure at first, it can also bring feelings of extreme loneliness. Not knowing the language or culture, nor having any friendly contacts or a place to live when you arrive can be extremely isolating. But you can help! When you join their support team, our missionaries know they have faithful friends on whom they can rely. People who not only support them financially but who are with them in mind and spirit. People who will pray for them when they are lonely and encourage them when they are down. If you haven’t done so already, please consider becoming the support on the other end of the line by joining a support team today.

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