With the HSC exams close to finishing, thousands of Year 12 high school students will be faced with the existential question: where to from here?
For many this could mean enrolment in a University or TAFE; for others perhaps this means entering the workforce.
Still, for those who are undecided, taking a gap year can be an excellent way for a young person to discover their place in the world.
Indeed, it is in the times of leisure that many discover their calling in life.
Judy Bowe, a Missionary of God’s Love (MGL) sister, recalled how backpacking in her youth led to her calling to become a religious sister.
“During a year of backpacking around Europe I went to Medjugorje for a week and felt my faith awakened in a whole new way,” she said.
“I realised God was very real, and that I needed to follow Jesus with my whole life instead of fitting him into my plans when convenient.
“I had arrived there quite cynical, but left there with a hunger for prayer and a desire to centre my life on God.”
Travel has played a huge part in Judy’s life.
Part of her work as a sister has been to help guide young people on mission trips overseas.
In more recent developments, both Judy Bowe and her fellow MGL sister Therese Mills, participated in The Amazing Race Australia which will be airing on Channel Ten on October 28 – the first time in history of the series hosted contestants from the religious life.
The pair are one of 11 teams who raced across three continents for $250,000 prize money.
The Sisters entered the race in order to bring the idea of God’s love to a television audience who may never think of entering a church.
Judy gave words of encouragement to all young people drawn to the thrill of travel as a positive outlet for self-development.
“Travelling provides a challenge that tests our own resources,” she said.
“When you are travelling you are far from all that is familiar, and all the comforts of home.
“You have to depend on God a lot more. It brings up all your fears and insecurities and you have to depend on God.”
The Missionaries of God’s Love Sisters began over 32 years ago in Canberra and are now moving towards becoming recognised as a Religious Institute.
Their work focuses on evangelisation of young people and the marginalised.
They want to bring a message of hope to those who most need it.
“God’s love is very real and available to everyone,” Judy said.
“God is longing to connect with each person, to let them know how precious they are and that they have a unique mission to do in this world that no one else can accomplish.
“Life is a rich adventure and we hope that our adventure on the Amazing Race helps others to be inspired to trust God more with their lives.”
Of course not all who travel may necessarily return wanting to join the Missionaries of God’s Love. Nevertheless the adventure and challenge of being taken out of a comfort zone and daily routine – no matter the journey destination-will always bring out the best on our return.
To all parents anticipating their children leaving the nest to travel- have hope that God guides your child on a positive journey of discovery of themselves and the world and ultimately return all the better.