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by Hannah Erbeck Hannah is a member of the 6-month Caribbean IMMERSION team that will travel from New York City to Haiti, Jamaica, and Belize.

For the last two and a half months I've lived in Haiti and now Jamaica. I've learned from the best how to cook a mean fish. I learned to enjoy hot sauce on anything along with a side of bread. I've grown to appreciate little things, like a piece of chocolate from a stranger.

God has brought me through some of the best and worst moments of my life in the last months. He's been teaching me a lot about surrendering all areas of my life big or small. He's opened my eyes to the fact that I haven't been vulnerable enough with him or with myself. I had never surrendered my self image and confidence to God though I knew I needed to.

All of high school I struggled with self image and self worth. I knew I was loved by God and my family but still felt worthless. I fought unhealthy thoughts nearly everyday. I was always worried about whether I looked pretty enough, was smart or athletic enough, having the right body, etc. I would compare myself to people around me and focus on what I didn't have or what was imperfect. All of high school I fought self inflicted mental abuse and thought I did it alone.

However, since I've left the U.S., God has opened my eyes to his work in my life over the years. God has been that little whisper in my ear that kept me going when I felt like my life had no purpose. He brought me to this moment where I have surrendered my self image fully. It took me all this trip to realize my desperate need to hand over my self. The first step was realizing it. Now it was time to cut off any confidence I had.

So, with the help of my roommate, friend, and co-chocolate-loving teammate, I chopped my hair off in my Jamaican front yard, while watching the sunset.

6-Month Mission Trips

It sounds silly to make it such a big deal, but I truly was hiding behind my long hair. I have been growing my hair out for the last 3-4 years. The only way I ever felt beautiful in high school was if I had my long blond hair to hide behind. But God wants my full confidence and heart put upon him.

This was me telling God, "I'm ready to surrender it all to you." First, my self image and all the pain that comes with that, and then, slowly, everything else. Now I look in the mirror everyday knowing the commitment I made to God and that it's time to get into action. I put myself in a vulnerable position giving God control over my image and allowing Him to fill me. I definitely feel like I lost a part of myself, but what I gained is so much more beautiful. God is creating in me a beautiful, clean heart that longs to please her Heavenly Father. "I'm ready Lord for your mighty hand to do amazing things through me, please use me for your Kingdoms glory."

2 Corinthians 12:9 — "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Proverbs 31:30 — "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Learn more about upcoming 6-Month Caribbean IMMERSION terms!

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