How 8 Days With College Kids Brought Me Back to Life

“Breathe. You’ve cried only twice today, Carrie, that’s improvement,” so the self-pep talks go these days.

Costa Rica

Wake up. Go to work. Sit at desk. Computer screen, internet, email. Meetings. Go home. Repeat. That’s been my version of “keeping my head above water” in the last couple weeks after returning back to Georgia from two of the most emotional weeks in Texas.

I was ready to give up on just about everything.

Then I boarded another plane and things changed.

My ticket read Guatemala City, Guatemala. Everyone who had been to Antigua before could speak only of their love affairs with her and her cobblestone streets, bright-as-the-sun hues, and magnificent landscapes. If possible, I would call it, “love before first sight.”

Fall in love I did. And, in only the way love can do, I awoke from my slumber.

When I look back on my time in  Guatemala and Costa Rica, I will remember more than delightful coffee.

I will remember the 25 teens and 20-somethings who reminded me of some truth I had lost sight of, some faithfulness I’d forgotten, and some hope I’d given up on.


In eight days, these college-aged Passport participants took me back to the heart of why I do what I do. Why I packed my bags, left my family, and moved across the country. Why the tears and heartaches and disappointments are all worth it.

They are just like me and yet so different. But our hearts are the same: we have all chosen to ditch the status quo for a God-adventure. We have all been wrecked by the fierce love of Jesus and want to share that love with the world. We want to bring kingdom wherever we go.

We have stood up, stomped our feet, raised our hands, and shouted from chairs that God is good, God is love, God is worth it. God has a plan.

I just needed a change of scenery and fresh voices to remind me.

When I arrived I was pale from a dark, cold winter. While here in Central America, sun-kissed by students’ zeal, color has returned to my cheeks after what seemed to be months of lifelessness.

My feet are dirty. My face is sweaty. My hair is a hot mess. I am believing God for big things and resting in his presence, finding satisfaction there.

I am living like a real missionary again.


  1. life as she knows it · March 22, 2013

    Carrie! Great post and I’m so excited for you!

  2. ashleyjhiggins · March 22, 2013

    those college kids. they’ll getcha every time.
    cannot wait to hear all about it over a delicious cup of coffee on our comfy couch.
    love you heaps and SO proud of you!

  3. Jeff Goins · March 22, 2013

    Those lucky college kids.

  4. hollandocox · March 22, 2013

    ahhh, i love it!

  5. lynncarol · March 22, 2013

    Hallelujah, sweet girl! I love you! Grandbud would be so proud!

  6. Patti Paschall · March 23, 2013

    Love!!!!! Xo

    Sent from my iPad

  7. Becki Duckworth · March 24, 2013


  8. Christine Niles · March 24, 2013

    Selah. Glad *you* are back!!

  9. Agrita · March 25, 2013

    “My feet are dirty. My face is sweaty. My hair is a hot mess. I am believing God for big things and resting in his presence, finding satisfaction there.

    I am living like a real missionary again.”

    Thats my life right now 🙂

  10. waukegan2college13 · March 29, 2013

    Reblogged this on Waukegan To College (W2C).

  11. Barbara Culwell · April 11, 2013

    Great words of encouragment.. as my husband and I are planning to be on a summer project with 40 students.. I am feeling old.. (I am) but this is a great reminder to me of what God wants to do in ME.. with them.

    • carriehokanson · April 11, 2013

      Barbara, it’s crazy what you can learn from people or in places you may least expect. But that’s how it is in the kingdom: upside down. And beautiful. I am sure the blessings will flow both ways between you and your 40 students this summer!

  12. livbrokenshire · May 4, 2013

    Reblogged this on livbrokenshire.

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