A Student’s Story: Doing the Hard Things

By Raquel Wroten

San Diego has a special place in Dacie Gamble’s heart. She had traveled there with her family on vacation and loved the atmosphere, the weather and everything in between.

Her church, FBC Russellville in Arkansas, also has partnerships in the area and regularly sends their students to do short-term missions.

And so, when the opportunity came to go on a GenSend Experience trip to San Diego, Dacie said, “It kind of tugged on my heartstrings.”

GenSend Experience is an immersive exploration of what it means to live intentionally in community while sharing the gospel. It offers college-age students (ages 18 to 25) to serve in some of North America’s greatest cities and learn how to live on mission. Students work alongside missionaries in church planting and compassion ministry for an in-depth missional experience.

As Dacie considered the opportunity, her parents, Aaron and Tara, supported her decision to go and serve. When the time came for Dacie to leave, they dropped her off to join the rest of the church group to travel to Little Rock and then fly to San Diego the following day.

But the next morning, they woke up to find that the airline had canceled their flights to San Diego.

“We were like, OK, I mean, we were all together and we were ready to leave in a couple of hours and then we found out the airline canceled our flights. We had to go to the airport and get that figured out,” said Dacie.

Once at the airport, the airline told them the only available flight flew out of Dallas-Fort Worth. “We would have to drive to Dallas and fly out the next morning. And so that was the plan.”

Although they had to miss the first night of all the GenSend activities, the team trusted the Lord.

“My mom told my dad that maybe there was a reason [we] weren’t supposed to get on that plane. Our God is sovereign, and we trusted that, but we were all still bummed that it was happening,” she said.

As the team made their way to Dallas in a bus, Dacie’s father and little brother packed up the family car to drive to Dallas for their annual father-son baseball trip right before Father’s Day.

Within 20 minutes from their house, Dacie’s father and brother died in a car wreck.

“It’s been a roller coaster since then,” she said.

“Everyone that I was with on that trip, as far as I know, they were completely inexperienced with tragedy in that sense, but they did so well in making me feel comfortable.”

The plane the next day left for San Diego left without Dacie.

The wreck had happened on a Friday, and Dacie and her mom missed church on Sunday—Father’s Day.

Even though her heart hurt, Dacie still wanted to serve.

“We kind of said the whole time, ‘We do hard things.’ My heart is broken regardless. And so, it’s like, if my heart’s broken, whether I’m in my room by myself or serving the Lord, then I might as well be serving the Lord while I’m healing through it.”

Because she planned to go to GenSend in San Diego, Dacie had met with many ministry leaders virtually and found support and encouragement from those who reached out to her to tell her they had prayed for her.

This past summer, her missions pastor and his wife took a trip to San Diego in mid-July. Dacie and her mother, Tara, decided to join them.

“We were able to get away and be with people who knew our situation, and it was very refreshing for us to go and be around people who were sensitive,” she said.

That trip helped Dacie continue the process of thinking about ministering in San Diego.

Last fall, the team in San Diego needed help with social media. “Me and my best friend, Sofia, helped with that some and then in December, we were able to go out and serve for about two weeks over our Christmas break. Another team from our church came for the second half of the week to help too.”

Dacie sees that she’s now uniquely equipped to help other people going through similar heartaches. “I think just seeing that I could reach out to others in the first few months helped me. I understand what they might need. I can be someone they can talk to or whatever and so I know that will continue throughout my life.”

San Diego still has a special place in Dacie’s heart. She found healing there, and God continues to work through her.

“I want to do as much as I can there. I also want to continue to go on short-term trips because that’s where I feel like God has called me to serve, whether that’s San Diego, whether that’s somewhere else in America, overseas, whatever the capacity is, I’m open to whatever the Lord has for me.”

Published July 12, 2022

Raquel Wroten

Raquel P. Wroten (MAMC, Dallas Theological Seminary) has served as an editor, social media manager, communications strategic consultant and content writer for over 15 years. She enjoys writing (in English, Spanish and Spanglish), learning, cooking, coffee and serving up a feast for her friends and family.