By B.C. Manion
Erin Costello will be spending part of the coming weekend serving $7 breakfasts to help raise money for a trip around the world.
The 23-year-old Lutz woman is have the event, called Pancakes for Missions, at Organic Life Coffee House & Bakery, a gathering spot where she used to work.
She’ll be dishing out breakfasts from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 at 1900 Oak Grove Blvd. in Lutz.
This is just one in a series of fundraisers Costello plans to have to raise the $15,500 she needs to take part in The World Race, a missionary trip that involves stops in 11 countries during the course of 11 months.
The mission trip is organized by Adventures in Missions, which began organizing the journeys into faith and service in 2006.
Costello said the trip she’s going on is not to be confused with a popular reality television show with a similar name.
“Everybody asks me, ‘Oh, you’re going on The Amazing Race? You’re on that TV show?’ … I’m like, ‘No. Not exactly,’” Costello said.
Her travels will take her to Europe, Asia and Africa. She’ll be doing mission work in Ireland, Ukraine, Romania, Nepal, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Cambodia, Swaziland, South Africa and Mozambique.
Like The Amazing Race, Costello will be able to sample foods and learn the local customs of the people in those countries. Unlike those racing on the reality television program, she won’t be competing for a $1 million prize.
The World Race represents an extension of Costello’s record of missionary work, beginning when she was a teenager attending Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.
Now, she attends Victorious Life Church in Wesley Chapel.
Throughout the years, she has spread the Gospel in a Haitian village, pitched in at an orphanage in Zambia and taught English to an African woman during a summer program in New York.
Costello is excited about the potential she sees for spiritual growth as she takes part in The World Race.
She shared some of her feelings in a blog she has created that will track her experiences.
“I want to pray in new ways, selflessly,” Costello blogged. She added, “I have a feeling that The World Race will include a lot of seed planting (in others and me) and watering (in others and me) and patience … for the harvest to take place (in others and me).”
The University of South Florida (USF) student knows she will be relinquishing a life of comfort that she now enjoys in her family’s home.
“They want us to kind of live like the rest of the world does,” Costello said. “So, we, in reality, will be living off of $3 for food a day. We’ll be eating rice and beans — you know, whatever the locals eat. It’s not like we’ll be living in luxury.”
It won’t be an entirely new experience.
While on a previous trip to Africa, she rode in a pickup truck through the bush — getting covered with dust.
Costello cleaned herself by carrying water from a spigot and taking showers, cup by cup. She said she never felt entirely clean.
“You always have dirt somewhere.”
Yet, the experience was enriching beyond words, Costello said.
“Africa was a life-changing experience for me,” Costello said.
The people she encountered were more focused on building relationships than worrying about time.
In the United States, she said, “We’re like, ‘I have 5 minutes. Let me stick this thing in the microwave. Let me go do what I have to do.’”
In Africa, she observed, “They may take all morning long to make breakfast or to make lunch. And they may sit on their porch and talk to their neighbors. For them, that’s fulfilling their day. … It really makes you realize things that should be important to us that aren’t always.”
Her time in Africa, she said, helped her discover more of who she wants to be.
“When I go out every day now, I have the desire to make sure that that day is used for something meaningful. When I cross somebody’s path, I want to be an encouragement to them. I’m a lot more mindful of that now.”
Costello welcomes the experiences that await her on The World Race.
“I think a lot of times people think that when you choose to live as a Christian, it’s almost like you have to give up so much of the things you want to do,” Costello said.
That hasn’t been the case for her.
“I have friends from all over — friends in Africa, New York City — friends who are Muslims,” said Costello, who is set to graduate in December from USF with a degree in social work.
“As a Christian, as I develop what I consider to be my spiritual walk with God, those desires grow,” Costello said. “You tend to want to serve more. I believe that I’m called to full-time ministry.”
To learn more about The World Race, visit theworldrace.org. You can read Erin
Costello’s blog at www.erincostello.theworldrace.org.
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