Over the summer I was blessed with an incredible opportunity to travel to The USA, to sing and carry out Music and Missionary Work in Atlanta, Georgia and Orlando, Florida
In August 2015 whilst home from university for the summer, when my friends and I had started to talk about what we wanted to do for the summer after we graduated in 2016, I had told everyone that I was going to America. Had I saved any money towards it? Nope. Had I booked any flights or even looked into it? Nope. But I just told myself some way, somehow I was going (I know some of them probably thought I was a little crazy lol)..
Fast forward to June 2016 as my university graduation was approaching, reality started to it and though I kept on having a vision of seeing myself there, I acknowledged that the way things were looking it was highly unlikely. So as cliche as it may sound to some, I actually prayed about it.
Exactly one week before my graduation day, during a conversation with a friend of mine on a completely separate topic, I found myself being presented with an all inclusive opportunity to go to the USA for free in August to do two things I love: music and ministry! To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I was 1000% sure I was being pranked. I kept asking over and over again if this was a joke even though I’d never even mentioned my desire to go. But yep, a vision I had had a year ago was actually coming to pass out of nowhere! From my graduation day, I had about a month to prepare for my trip, which consisted of music rehearsals, learning about the local culture, health and safety briefings as some of the areas we’d be visiting were quite dangerous and of course a little shopping for the hot weather!
Our flight ended up being slightly delayed which meant we had time to have some lunch, listen to music and muck around in the airport (there were 22 of us). I’ll never forget is the feeling I had during take off. I literally remembering having the most cheesy grin plastered across my face as I looked out the window and reflected on the crazy amount of struggles I had overcome in the months leading up to this day. But sitting there I realised that a vision had really become a reality and I didn’t even have to pay I just to pray. It really confirmed the power of trusting in Gods plan and not allowing your happenings to destroy your happiness. But I was definitely not prepared for the 38°C heat to slap me right in the face as we landed but arriving to a hotel with a private gym, pool, amazing rooms and breakfast on deck I was pretty sure I’d be alright 🙂
After our morning devotion, I found out that part of our missionary work would involve working with children which is one of my favourite things to do, so I was ecstatic! Anyone that knows me well will tell you that I really love and have a heart for children, Plus, who can resist their adorable little southern accents!
Part of our missionary work was with City of Refuge in ‘one of Atlanta’s most impoverished and crime-ridden neighbourhoods, where nearly 40% of the residents live below the Federal Poverty Level’.
We ran an after school program for 3-13 year olds, which included having after school snacks and reflection time, helping them with their homework, assigning and assisting them with worksheets, supporting them during extracurricular activities such as sports games and dance classes, running Friday movie nights and having one on one time with some of them to really get to know them and encourage them.
The experience I had is something I definitely will never forget. Hearing some of the stories of the types of environments and experiences some of these children had come from and been exposed to, (some of which I could personally relate to) I was literally flawed. Seeing how much they warmed to me on the very first day, made me super determined to be a positive example of affirmation, support and joy for them. I can still remember all their individual personalities, stories and smiles and I still pray for them knowing and believing that God is going to lead them all to amazing futures!
It goes without saying that the USA is home to some of the greatest gospel talents in the entire world, so you can imagine how excited (and nervous) we were to be in environments that would both teach and inspire us!
I always say that music is the only universal language so it has the power to bring people together from all over the world, so I was looking forward to listening and learning new songs from our new friends in The States and joining in with all the local festivities. We had planned some set lists of songs to deliver to each audience we encountered, so that we could introduce them to new songs that were popular in the UK.
We also visited House Of Hope Atlanta a huge 15,000 seating church, headed by Pastor E.Dewey Smith, and home to some of the biggest musicians in the gospel industry, including bassist Darrell Freeman.
We also visited House Of Hope Atlanta a huge 15,000 seater church, headed by Pastor E.Dewey Smith, and home to some of the biggest musicians in the gospel music industry, including bassist Darrell Freeman. We coincidently visited the church on the same day that Alexis Spight was ministering, renowned for her success on Sunday Best, (who we had previously hosted an event with in the UK) #RandomReunion
Travelling 6 hours each way back and forth several times between ATL and Florida there was never a dull moment on our travels. In our free time we were able to visit several shopping outlets, restaurants (yes I ate at every single one of these places). Our hotel escapades were both fun and hilarious, ranging from lounging by the pool, to play fights through the hotels, to Sunday nights all gathered in one room to catch the latest episodes of Power lol
I love creating memories and being adventurous so I was super excited when we decided to go-karting! Our first go-karting experience was in Florida where we went on what can be best described as a ‘roller-coaster go karting track’. I think some of the team underestimated my competitive nature lol, but nonetheless that experience started some healthy competition and we then went go-karting twice more on different tracks in different states, and I would 1 million % recommend it!
Being in Atlanta really confirmed what I had heard about ‘southern hospitality’. Whether we were in Target or dining at a restaurant, we were always welcomed and made to feel at home which was lovely.
Atlanta is also a place that really allows you to tap into black history so we thought it only fitting to visit the Martin Luther King Museum while we were there.
We were able to sit through a short film which really took us back in time and we also visited the church Martin Luther King attended, and sat through a performance of his famous ‘I Had a Dream’ speech
We were also able to visit the Underground Rail Road and pick up some souvenirs, eat some good food and take a walk around Downtown Atlanta and speak to some of the locals who were really lovely! Shoutout to the homie Deshawn for taking us to the littest spots and arcades which are way bigger and more advanced than any I had ever visited in London (. Playing Laser Tag guys vs. girls was probably the funniest experience- I never thought I’d see the day where so many men would be so willing to try to kill me all at once!
Overall, its safe to say, this is a trip I will never forget.
One thing I took away from this trip was that ministry isn’t just about your gifts; it’s a lifestyle.I am learning more and more to always remain and live in consistent faith and pursuit of the best everyday! It will happen!
I hope you were inspired and got some ideas of things to do if you ever visit any of these places!
Until next time ! x