It was the lost luggage that did it.
Once Hallie Warren got over the fact her bags had been bungled during a short-term mission trip to Haiti last summer, she knew the mission work she'd long felt called to could become a reality.
In time, she realized it might happen sooner rather than later.
Today, Warren, 18, has returned from a three-month internship with For His Glory, a Christian ministry that partners with Maison des Enfants de Dieu orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in order to raise support for a full year there.
When she returns for the school year, she'll teach English and art at the orphanage.
"From an early age I was called to be a missionary," Warren said. "As I got older in looking to college, I decided I could do [mission work] later
in life. I would get a formal education. That's the way it [traditionally] works."
When the luggage was lost on the trip with her high-school homeschool group of 10 or so, and she had only her Bible and a steel drum someone carried for her, she realized she'd survive.
"I thought maybe I was letting possessions dominate my life," Warren said, "that I was not wanting to miss out on the people I love."
The weeklong trip, she said, was the eye-opener she needed.
Since Warren already planned to take a year off before college, she applied and was accepted for the internship this summer.
"I thought this is what my next step needs to be," she said. "It just felt really, really right."
Warren had to raise her support for the internship, in which she served as a mission liaison for teams coming to Haiti, but said she went into the process without too much fear.
"I feel like anytime you're stepping into anything for the first time, there are going to be those fears and hesitations," she said, "but the Lord blessed me with reassurances."
Among those reassurances, Warren said, was the presence of Australian men as leaders of the church she attended in Port-au-Prince. Australia, she said, is where she'd told people for years that she wanted to be a missionary.
Her family, the Ringgold, Ga., resident said, may worry a bit more than she does.
"I'm certain they do," she said, "but they're really, really supportive in it. They don't try to influence me in going there."
Warren said the English instruction will be more difficult than art because she knows very little of the Creole language. Art will be less so, she said, because it is her "strong suit."
Most of her 45 or so students -- taught in three groups -- will be ages 4 through 12.
"I'm definitely looking forward to the general broadening of my education and experiences," she said. "I will be learning, even though it's not a formal learning environment."
In the meantime, Warren has a month to raise her support. She's hoping to get into some churches who might consider backing her.
For more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warren's not even ruling out extending her year in Haiti.
"It's definitely a possibility," she said, "but the second I can't further myself because of a lack of education, I'll come back."
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...