One of the most significant events in my life was working in Australia at the World’s Fair.
It was incredible working and living Down Under for 7+ months. Being a mini-celebrity. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. Dancing with Aborigines in north Queensland.
But what made it one of the most significant events in my life was not actually the World’s Fair, but the journey getting there. Out of 20,000 applications, I ended up being one of 40 tour guides for the US pavilion. When I applied there were many roadblocks. My application had been rejected 3 times. I wasn’t old enough for the job. But, it was something I knew I just had to do. So, I called the American Embassy in Australia. I called the Australian Embassy in the United States. I reached out to the 2 senators for the State of Washington, as well as Bobby Kennedy in Massachusetts. I shared my vision with everyone. And then one day a sorority sister said to me, “I think my boyfriend’s father might have something to do with the World’s Fair.”
That was a giant understatement. Her boyfriend’s father was the VP of the company that built 1/3 of all of the pavilions at the World’s Fair. Through her connection, I was offered an opportunity to send him directly my cover letter and resume. Knowing this was my in, I carefully crafted the documents. After 4 days and 40 drafts, I gave them to the boyfriend to send on overseas. One month later, I got the phone call. A voice said I was now 1 of 200 candidates and was invited to interview in Australia for the position…at my own expense. During finals week. In less than 2 weeks- which required full-fare air, through Hawaii, at Christmas time. (I was on standby for 2 days for one of the legs.) But that was the offer. Was I in or out? I had to ask for money and support from my parents. It was very rough, but I determined I had to do it or let the dream die forever.
I landed in Australia. I was hot (as it was high Summer there), exhausted from flight and finals, and second guessing whether this huge expense had been the right thing to do. I was feeling very young and far, far from home. I tugged my suitcases by their leashes down the road to the nearest hostel, checked in, and then called my friend’s boyfriend’s mother, who had suggested that I come over for lemonade, when I arrived. The offer for lemonade with a ‘mother’ was a comfort and a lifeline back to home.
But it was my friend’s boyfriend’s father who picked me up at the hostel, enraged. The other 199 candidates had been interviewed in the United States. The HR manager had resented that his boss’ boss’ boss had told him to interview me, and tried to bluff me into turning down the opportunity by requiring me to fly to Australia. To his dismay, I had called his bluff and he got caught.
The executives were very upset and promised me some type of position, such as, a waitress in the U.S. Pavilion restaurant. Later, when a tour guide dropped out at the last moment, I was offered the job 2 weeks before the World’s Fair opened. Because I had said yes to interviewing in Australia. Because I had said yes to the waitress job, when I really wanted to be a tour guide (I had figured it was close enough to my dream). Because I had kept asking people, over and over, until someone else said, “Yes.”
Living in Australia at 20 was incredible but it didn’t have the ongoing rippling, life-altering impact as the journey trying to get the job.
When I started the Cascade Fellows in September, I spent the first month praying, asking God whether I should continue working on a huge project, a movie, that I had started a couple years back. I had started it on my own, never asking God if He wanted me to do it, never sharing it with Him. It had stalled for most of 2014. I was inspired to start it, but was the inspiration from God? Did He want me to do this? But, I realized, if the answer was yes, I wouldn’t continue on this journey alone.
Then, God spoke to me in the waiting room of Lynnwood Honda. “Do it. Give it to me and let’s do it.”
I won’t lie; I was thrilled. Not about the answer, but that God had actually answered my prayer! I would go forward with my work of getting a movie made.
God wasn’t done, “I want you to know that just because you surrendered the movie to me, doesn’t guarantee that the movie will be a big success. I just guarantee that it will be an incredible journey.”
Fair enough, God. Sign me up!
Recently, one of the Cascade Senior Fellows posed the question, “At what point were the 2014 Seattle Seahawks successful? Was it when they won the 2014 Super Bowl? Was it every game they won? Or was it when they learned from the plays – and games they lost? When they were successful in bonding as a team? When they successfully drafted Russell Wilson in the third round as a backup quarterback? When they hired Pete Carroll?”
And so it made me think, are we successful when we achieve our dreams and goals – sell the screenplay? Get promoted? Sell the company for a fortune? Open a shelter for teenagers on the street? Make a break-through for the cure for cancer?
Or, are we successful in the series of mini-successes and perseverance along the entire journey? Staying true to the goal and faith during the long and sometimes discouraging journey?
Perhaps we need to be asking: What’s God’s vision of success for us? Because often, success from God’s point of view is the journey itself. Working with us, our hand in His hand. God applauds when our relationship with him is deepened through the journey. God takes great pleasure when our understanding, dependency on, and servitude towards Him grows.
It wasn’t successfully landing the job in Australia that forever changed my life. It was getting there. I am excited to work together with God, my new partner, to see how my life – and perhaps the lives of others – will be changed on getting this movie made. To persevere through all the “No’s” and closed doors. Through the obstacles and roadblocks. I have been told by entertainment professionals that getting a movie made is a minor miracle. Minor miracle? That’s right up God’s alley.
I’m strapped in and ready for the ride, Lord.