Welcome John & Anna!

John McLaughlin My Background: My name is John McLaughlin, known by most as Johnny, and I am a Photojournalism student at the University of Florida. I am 22 years old and I currently live in Gainesville, FL. I grew up most of my life in Panama City Beach, FL. While I lived in Panama City Beach, I practically grew up on the beach. I love few things more in this physical world than the smell of the salt air and the sand between my toes. I love the great outdoors and when I heard we will be sleeping in tents in Africa, I thought that my Invest leader, Cody, was joking. I am so stoked and looking forward to that! On the downside of life, I hate the taste of goat meat (thanks to a previous trip to Africa) and also being late for appointments (which I usually am more so than not). As a photojournalism student, I am definitely looking for opportunities to get plugged into foreign missions and how I can use the gifts that God has given to me to help others and tell the stories of those who can’t. My friends over at my home church called Northstar in Panama City, FL have started an organization called “Love Come Rescue.” This organization reflects the same idea that I want to do with my life. My wish is to come alongside an organization such as that and to help share people’s stories with others all over the world.

How I heard about Journey: I heard about the Journey internship when I took a previous mission trip to Kenya, Africa with my church family in June 2010. I was talking to one of our mission trip guides one day while we had some downtime in a community called Kiu, Kenya. They mentioned a trip that was led by a couple who were specializing in short term mission trips for college students. I researched it and knew that this is what I wanted to do for my summer in 2011. As a way to prepare for this trip I am in the process of learning Swahili. Let’s see how that works out...

What God is teaching me: God has been teaching me several things throughout this process. One thing in particular that he is teaching me is that I will get out of this trip what I put into it. Financially speaking, I can afford the trip with not too much of a problem, but I want to make a significant sacrifice in order to start thinking more like Christ during this preparation step of the trip. I am going to be working for several weeks prior to going on the trip to raise money for it and will be asking others for funds so that they can choose to invest in my life, and in turn, I can do the same for others. I want my family and friends to feel the benefits of giving and I do not want to just give money without the pain of personal sacrifice.

What I’m excited about: I am so excited to see what God has in store for us as we go on this trip. I can’t wait to meet every person on our team as we embark on this journey together. I can’t wait to see the obstacles that we will overcome and the difficulties that God will lead us through. I have a strong sense that this trip will not be all butterflies and rainbows, but instead will provide the catalyst for a significant growing stage in our lives. I know we are going to have so much fun on this trip. I can’t wait.

Prayers and Concerns: I pray that God shows us our faults like never before. I pray God will show us where he wants each of us to serve him in our individual lives. I pray for such an amazing time where we will meet friends that will be like brothers and sisters to us for the rest of our lives and that we have experiences that will seal those bonds permanently. My biggest fear for this trip is that I will come back from this journey and get nothing out of it. That I will not be a changed individual. I pray that God completely and utterly turns my world upside down and I will NEVER be the same again. Only time will tell what I get out of this trip, but my prayer is that this trip will be a stepping stone for greater things to come. I want it to change me in a way that will make me not want to get back into the mundane action of everyday life and that I will forever be changed to honor God with my life. Even if I lose it in the process.

Anna Escoe Hey hey! My name is Anna Escoe, and I grew up in Toccoa, Georgia. I am currently in my junior year at North Greenville University in Tigerville, SC, where I am studying early childhood education. I began specifically praying about overseas missions at the end of the summer of 2010. God gave me a specific desire for missions, but I had no idea where I was supposed to go or the organization that I was supposed to go through. After finding out about the Journey internship, meeting the leadership of Choose to Invest, and praying about going to Kenya, I felt very strongly that I was being led to apply. I am so humbled to have been given the opportunity to go to Kenya this summer as an intern! It’s incredible that our team gets to be the vessel that shares the name of Jesus and the hope that can only be provided by our Savior with the people of Kenya! I’m so thankful that, even with all of our imperfections, the Lord uses us to advance His kingdom. While this is not my first overseas mission trip, this is my first time going to Africa, and I could not be more excited!! Jesus is teaching me so much during this preparation process. When I first found out that I was accepted for Journey, it was literally all I could think and talk (I was driving my friends crazy!) about. While it is wonderful to be excited about all that’s going to happen this summer, I realized that I was forgetting to live in the present and remain mission-minded about the mission field that I have right now. The Lord has been teaching me that there are so many people within my current sphere of influence that do not have a relationship with Him and the importance of being fully obedient each and every day—ultimately to make sure that I’m living in the present! I am so excited about being taken completely out of my comfort zone and learning what it means to take risks to follow Jesus. I am even more excited about seeing Jesus pursue the hearts of the people in Kenya and seeing lives change! There are many things that I do feel somewhat anxious about with this experience, but I know that Jesus is in complete control and that I must trust Him. I have no doubt that He will exceed every expectation that I could ever set for this experience, and I cannot wait to see all that the Lord teaches me this summer!