MARYSVILLE — It was the mission trip that called her. Amy Davis knew she was signing up to visit 11 countries in 11 months. But she had no idea that meant she would be living out of a backpack, sleeping in a tent. By the time she learned of the outdoor accommodations, she was already set on doing the World Race in 2015.
Davis, 27, of Marysville’s nondenominational 92nd Street Church of Christ, is working to raise $16,243 for her mission. The trip that takes her through the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania.
The substitute teacher for the Marysville School District had planned a career as a marine biologist after finishing her master’s degree in environmental science and education at Oregon State University. But when she saw the trip online, she knew she wanted to do it.
“I guess it was a leap of faith,” she said. “I was feeling a strong calling that God was changing my focus to mission work and ministry.”
She never envisioned volunteering to go without a shower or to sleep in the jungle with snakes and spiders.
“There is a dirty part of being a missionary,” she said. “I’ve been in some bad situations and I know I’ll be in worse. You just have to focus on why you’re there.”
Davis is no stranger to sharing her faith abroad. She went on her first mission to Africa in 2012. She said she pulled herself out of a deep depression and started raising the $3,500 needed to make the two-week trip. In a month, she had gathered enough donations and was on her way to Kenya.
At first, Davis was struck by the poverty as she drove into a Kisumu slum on muddy, rutted roads with raw sewage running alongside. She saw people wearing life’s hardship on their faces, cooking and doing laundry outside. She arrived at a school to observe classes and serve meals in the kitchen.
“The kids come running up to you and want to touch you,” she said. “It’s amazing the welcoming in what we’d think of as a sad, poor, helpless place.”
She also visited sick people and ministered to them. She said she was overwhelmed to see the conditions in which those with terminal illnesses were suffering. Many were lying on mats instead of mattresses.
“It’s like what you see on National Geographic,” she said. “You don’t understand until that person is lying under you, barely breathing, just asking you to pray. It brings it to life.”
Many of the parents she met would feed their children before themselves. Often they would go without eating, making their medications less effective, she said. She encountered families being forced out of their homes because they did not have what would amount to $20 for rent.
Still, she was inspired by the strong spirituality of the people she met.
“I’ve seen true faith,” Davis said. “When you see people who have absolutely nothing, living in horrible circumstances, to see their faith and their hope changed my whole outlook.”
Davis has since gone on missions to Nicaragua and Kenya. She visited her sponsor daughter, Lydia, 14, and adopted another, Stacy, 5. She gave Lydia the shoes she was wearing because the girl didn’t have any.
“I don’t see it as a sacrifice,” Davis said. “I see it as something we’re supposed to do.”
In her travels, Davis said, she has also had unsettling experiences, such as the time a man offered a fellow missionary a cow in trade for Davis. She tells of once talking with a man who, she later learned, had come to power in a Kenyan village by winning a battle fought with machetes.
“I shook hands with a mass murderer,” she said.
On her upcoming World Race mission, Davis could end up doing any type of service work that is needed.
Davis hopes to minister to people who have been caught in human and sex trafficking. She said she believes her own experiences have prepared her for that work.
“I know how dangerous it is but I believe there’s a greater purpose,” she said. “It’s not for everyone, but for some reason I think God has chosen me and is leading me to do something I never thought I’d be able to do.”
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AmyNileReports
To support Davis
Send a check made out to Adventures in Missions to the 92nd Street Church of Christ at 4226 92nd St. NE, Marysville, WA 98270, with Amy Davis in the memo field.
On her blog, click the “support me” tab at amydavis.theworldrace.org