Exploration, risk-taking, and discovery are all part of life. Sometimes you have to try something to see if it is worth it or not. This past March, I did just that. On March 23rd, I finally took my Vision Trip to Germany. I was so very excited to finally be visiting the team. It was a long time coming. I have been pursuing this for a year and a half already. But on March 24th, I finally made it (happy birthday to me)!
I was jetlagged. Naturally, I was expecting a bit of culture shock. I generally deal with it more in Europe than I do in developing or 3rd world countries. However, by Monday, something didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t place my finger on it. I just thought it was the jetlag and culture shock, or that’s what I told myself. But I felt much more uncomfortable than I normally would in this situation. It was a deep discomfort. The kind I get when I know something is truly wrong. Almost a spiritual prompting.
And something was. This team was wrong. Or at least, I should say, this team wasn’t for me. I started running into issues Sunday night when I was asking Jim questions about his set up. When I have to teach people who have been doing media mission for 20 years some of the basics even my freshmen know, we have a problem. When I watch their feature film, “award-winning” feature film, and see more mistakes than a first-year freshman would make, we have a problem. When I, Stephan Hughes, who is not a writer, makes the missionary rewrite his script because it is poorly written, we have a problem. When the missionaries make me feel isolated from the culture I am potentially going to be living in and interacting with, we have a problem.
Keep in mind, I do not think I know better than them. But when I have to correct a team (ok, 2 people who are married) on a number of things, media-related or otherwise, that raises some red flags. I lost sleep over this issue. I really thought to join this team was what I was supposed to be doing, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with it. The quality of work just wasn’t up to what I was expecting. I just felt so isolated from German culture. I was run around by the missionaries like a tourist. These last two things are a big no-no when it comes to me and missions.
I need to be interacting with local Christians, part of a local community of believers. While I did attend church Sunday, March 25rd (and enjoyed it), I didn’t really interact with a lot of people. Most of the week, outside of hunting down some medicine for my throat and looking for some German language comics (seriously one of the more enjoyable parts, it was like being back in Brussels just doing life in another country) on Thursday, I was in an office building with other Americans.
But when it comes down to it, I just don’t think being part of this team is exactly where the Lord wants me. That is hard for me to say. Up till now, I had been pursuing this for a year and a half. It was my obedience to pursue missions once more that helped turn my life around and get me back on my feet. It’s because of my pursuit of missions why I have a job I have only dreamed of having. It is with a very heavy heart to say that I am no longer pursuing Gemstone Media, and potentially Greater Europe Mission. I still want to pursue missions, especially in Europe using my skills as an artist, photographer, and filmmaker. However, this trip just didn’t go as planned. And as a result, I feel like a failure. Or I should say, the trip failed to live up to my expectations. I failed again to live up to my own expectations, and once again have had to abandon a goal I was pursuing.
I am feeling lost again, not sure what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I just renewed my contract with the university for another year. I am considering pursuing my MFA in film. And on top of that, I am currently in the middle of teaching a class on drone operations. Yet the lack of a clear, tangible goal makes my life feel…empty. All of my current goals feel too open-ended. Ok, get my masters. Then what? With missions, it was clear. Fundraise, move to Europe, using film and digital media to help spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It made sense, there was something concrete that I was pursuing, and it boils down to the simple idea of using art to help tell people about Jesus. Life now feels like so much less. I just don’t have the time to think through my options. I had to jump right back into my current life when I got off the plane.
I need a change of pace in my life. I have felt stuck, unable to escape where I am in life. In this small town. In Indiana. I am now starting to wonder what the Lord is really telling me. What is He trying to teach me, to show me? As I put everything to paper, I am starting wonder what the Lord REALLY wants me to do. If the Lord is closing this door, it’s for a good reason. Now to see if another one opens. In the meantime, I have responsibilities I have to take care of. Like teaching college students. Still I have a lot to process, and I need to find the time to do it.