As my plane left the Salzburg airport that sunny, Austrian, September morning, I was given time to reflect on my two months at the Castle.The plane ride to Frankfurt would be just over and hour and I thought how nice it would be to sleep, but my thoughts were many and my heart was too heavy to sleep. I instead gazed out the window at the beautiful scenery below. I looked behind me as the glorious Austrian Alps, which had become my home for 55 days, slowly got smaller. Below me, Castles, country homes, farms, lakes, and green meadows made me think of the “Climb Every Mountain” song from the Sound of Music! Although my heart was heavy, it was also full of excitement to see my family and friends again.
However, as I gazed at beautiful Austria below me, and as the plane flew over the German countryside, I pondered why I came to Austria, what I learned, who I met, and ultimately what God did in and through my life. My thoughts were numerous. I thought of each person I met and came to admire as a friend. I prayed for them, and remembered how much they all meant to me. I recalled the long, busy days of serving in housekeeping and in the dining room and how much I grew to love working at the Castle. Even when “thank-yous” were rare from the conference guests, especially in housekeeping, it was a lesson in and of itself to know that I was not there to please people, but to please my Father in Heaven. Throughout my summer in Austria, that was a key aspect to serving. If your focus was on yourself…..well, good luck.
God taught me something very valuable. My missions trip was just a season in my life. But have you ever thought that our whole life as Christians is a missionary trip? Yes, it is! We are all called as missionaries in this world. Whether it’s in your home town, a big city, or a foreign country, we are missionaries. God has individually called each of us to serve Him, spread the gospel, and live in a way that glorifies Him. Are you serving Him? Are you being a light in this world? Are you glorifying Him? These are important questions to ask yourself. As I was in Austria, God gave me a different perspective on how I serve him. At my home church, I am involved in several areas of serving. However, now that I’m home, I noticed that before I left for Austria, I didn’t have the right mindset regarding service to the Lord. My mindset was to please the people. Now it’s okay to be noticed and to serve the body of Christ. But now that I’m home from Austria and have started serving again at my church, I can immediately tell that my outlook had changed (to God be the glory!). As I fold tablecloths, help in Children’s Ministry, or wash dishes, I notice that I really, honestly don’t care if people were watching me or not.
At the Castle, I served in two capacities; housekeeping and dining room. They are very opposite of each other, that’s for sure. For the majority of my stay, I was put on housekeeping. Yes. Toilets, showers, sinks, the whole sha-bam. Stinky, dirty, gross. This was definitely not my first pick, but it’s amazing how God changed my attitude throughout the weeks. The very first week I was at the Castle, I was really bummed out that I didn’t get put on dining room. I remember thinking how “not fun” housekeeping would be. And to tell the truth, it wasn’t very fun at all. But at the end of that first week, I thought to myself, “it doesn’t really matter if it’s fun, what matters is how I’m looking at it”. That first week, I was looking at my job with a bad attitude. Thankfully, God gave me the strength to change my perspective. From then on, I grew to love housekeeping! Two months ago, I would NOT have said the last sentence! Although I still would have rather been a dining room girl, I began to look at housekeeping differently. Instead of thinking, “why do I need to clean up after people?” I began to think, “I’m not really doing it for the guests, I’m doing it for the Lord.” Yes, I was technically cleaning bathrooms and such for the guests, but they’re God’s people and they’re missionaries doing His work, so really it’s for the Lord. In fact (total side note), after folding the toilet paper roll not so nicely, I felt guilty so I went back and re-did it. My flesh didn’t care if it wasn’t perfect, but then the Holy Spirit would convict me by telling me that I’m doing it for my the Lord, my Father in Heaven. Besides, serving God is a privilege not an obligation.
When week 5 came, I was met with a surprise. Bec, the main dining room lady, came up to me just before I was about to go clean a million bathrooms and said that I would be moved to dining room! Words cannot express how excited I was! I felt so blessed. God knew how badly I wanted that job and He decided to bless me for my last 3 weeks at the Castle.
I have three words for ya. God is good.
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the LORD. -Romans 12:10-11
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. -1 Corinthians 6:20
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. -2 Corinthians 4:1