Orientation Weekend: Preparing Our Hearts and Minds


by Kaylee Forbes, Go Now missionary and student at Texas A&M University at Commerce

Go Now Orientation weekend has just ended and I think it’s safe to say everyone involved gained something from attending. Before attending orientation, I was overwhelmed with worry about many different things. What would we learn? What if I don’t fit in? What if I am not capable or equipped to do the tasks presented to us?

Those worries led to even more worrying such as, “if I can’t survive this weekend how am I supposed to survive almost two weeks in a foreign country?”

I told myself to get it together and trust that God would show me what I needed to learn; and, as usual, God did not let me down. Orientation was a blast and helped me to not only overcome my worries but feel a sense of preparedness that I had not yet felt towards my trip.

The lessons were laid out wonderfully as they provided different sessions for us to attend. Having a variety of sessions allowed students to choose the subject they felt would best prepare them for their individual trip. The lessons varied from finding silence and solitude in a busy world to answering difficult questions about God and why bad things happen.

When asked how she felt about the variety of sessions, Rowan Upton from Angelo State University said, “I loved the variety of seminars that we could choose from and was glad that they gave us the option to pick the ones we wanted. For me personally, it allowed me to go to the "Answering difficult questions" seminar as I went to help find answers to the questions that even my very logical older brothers often ask my parents. This option not only aids me in ministering for my mission trip but also allows me to take it closer to home. I wish I could have been to more.” As she so wonderfully stated, these lessons are things we can use in all parts of our lives not just while we are away and that’s what makes them so wonderful!

While the sessions were extremely beneficial, the best part of orientation to me was all of the “culture shock” simulations they threw at us. The very first night we had to take bucket baths or no baths at all. The next day we had to pay to use the restroom, experience different cultural norms at lunch, and visit the fictitious city of Wonog (GoNow backwards). During lunch, some of us had to take our shoes off and only use chopsticks while others had to sit on the floor and share plates.

It was slightly comical to see students frustrated over not being able to bathe, having to pay for the restrooms, not understanding the languages, or even having to eat with their hands, but it was also eye-opening. For those of us going to different countries the things we experienced throughout the weekend may become a reality that we will have to learn to accept and embrace. All of the “abnormal” things we experienced throughout the weekend were to help prepare us for the culture shock we may experience on our trips. However, Brenda Sanders, director of Go Now Missions, reminded us that just because things are different than what we are used to, that doesn’t make them bad.

When asking other students about their orientation experiences I received responses very similar to my own. Michelle Gammage from Dallas Baptist University was grateful for orientation weekend and said that, “Orientation expanded my comfort boundaries and exposed me to experiences, ideas, and cultural differences I would have been otherwise unprepared to encounter on the mission field, all the while spiritually empowering me to combat the battles that will come my way on the mission field, at home, or wherever I am."

The whole weekend was filled with information and opportunities to learn and grow in our walks with Christ. God is good, all the time, and He used orientation to empower and prepare students from all over Texas to share His truth and grow his kingdom. To all of my fellow missionaries, remember Jesus said in John 20:21, “Peace be with you.” Breathe in God’s grace and breathe out His praise throughout this summer and pray that His will be done and you will experience a summer you will never forget.

Related articles: Seeing God at work through Discovery Weekend / Moldova: God's niceness through the journey there / Tea and the Gospel