By Anna Milograno
If you had told me two weeks ago today that I would be going to an Anglican conference in North Carolina, I wouldn’t have believed you. And that’s exactly what happened. My mom came home from work two weeks ago Tuesday night and randomly told me about this conference in North Carolina she was helping to prepare for at work. She thought I would really enjoy it, but there was no way I could go because all the spots were filled. The next morning, I got a call from my mom asking me if I wanted to go to the conference because one girl from our diocese had to drop out at the last minute. I asked if I could think about it and said I would give an answer the next day (Thursday). After talking to a couple of friends, my parents, and God, I decided that this was a door God had opened for me and I would regret not walking through. So I took the leap into an unknown adventure God had planned for me.
There are two things that stand out in my memory: becoming good friends with the other youth on the trip and meeting the Baroness Cox, of Queensbury. Since I was the only person I knew from my church who went to the Provincial Assembly, I was a little nervous about making friends. While I was able to meet some people prior to the first planned youth event, we didn’t start to get to know each other until we left to go to the activities planned for the 16-25 year olds.
But what really helped us bond, in my opinion, was the Afternoon Adventure on Friday. As of recently, my favorite word is adventure so I was excited to see what was going to happen. The Afternoon Adventure could be summed up with the words, “free time.” It was a chance for us to hang out, take a nap (which some people gladly did), go play miniature golf or sand volleyball, or take a hike. Some people went to hike or go up to the gym, while others napped or went to some of the adult sessions, and some of us hung out and talked. It was really cool to see how well everyone connected, even with people who weren’t there for the Assembly. We all had a great time at the bonfire Friday evening and decided to make a Facebook group for the youth so we could keep in touch easier. It’s crazy to think that we didn’t know most of these people existed a week ago and now we’re good friends. When you step back and let God work, He’ll introduce you to people who bless you and whom you can bless back.
One other incredible God moment was the way He orchestrated my meeting with Baroness Cox. She is an awesome woman, who, at age 74, travels constantly to places like the Sudan and Burma, passionately working on behalf of the persecuted church. Thursday night, before the voting, our diocese had a quick meeting to connect with one another. Before it started, Heather Adams came over to where the youth were sitting and told us about Baroness Cox and encouraged us to go hear her speak the next day. Friday morning I let God take control of my day and basically followed Him wherever He took me. I left the youth morning session early so I could go down to Spilman Auditorium to hear the Baroness speak. Her talk was as incredible as people said it would be.
Something my university requires is a Cross-Cultural Experience. In order to graduate from Asbury University, we have to travel to a different country and serve there for at least 7 days and 6 nights. I have yet to fulfill mine, and as a rising junior I still had no idea what to do or where to go, but Baroness Cox’s talk renewed my excitement for the trip. As I was leaving to head to lunch, I ran into Bishop Guernsey who asked me what I thought and I replied that I loved her talk. I explained my Cross-Cultural requirement and said that I was excited to fulfill it. He asked me if I wanted to meet her, to which I replied with an excited yes! Later that night, as I was waiting for a friend before heading up to the youth bonfire, I ran into Bishop Guernsey again and he told me that Baroness Cox wanted to meet me and to look for him tomorrow so he could introduce us. I was so excited; I couldn’t believe that she actually wanted to meet me. I started praying that God would give me the words to say because I really didn’t know what to talk to her about. Later I got the impression that I should mention my Cross-Cultural Experience, so I did.
The next morning at breakfast I had the chance to meet her. I thanked her for speaking and mentioned that her talk helped motivate me to fulfill my cross-cultural requirement for school. She took that to heart and introduced me to Donna Mundy, her executive director for HART in the US. Then both of them gave me their business cards and encouraged me to email them so they could keep me updated about the different trips HART would be planning in the future. Baroness Cox asked me what the next year looked like for me, and it was possible something could happen next summer after I finish my spring semester in May. This was beyond anything I could have imagined or anticipated to happen at the Assembly. I still can’t believe how God did it, but then I guess that’s why He’s God and not me.
If you had told me all this, and more, was going to happen to me two weeks ago, I would have rightly have disbelieved you and promptly ignored it. However, in a way I’m glad I didn’t know because then I wouldn’t have been able to marvel at God’s incredible providence. He taught me that life is so much better when I give Him control and step back out of the spotlight. He’s given me new friends and a chance to travel to a new country to minister to people I’ve yet to meet. God is so good and incredibly amazing when I give Him control.
Anna Milograno is an undergrad at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY studying media communications. She is a member of The Falls Church Anglican.