This is a picture of where Shannon is living. It may not have much Internet access, but at least it has this!

Fear Less, Ep. 1: Meet a Teacher Who Quit Her Job to Join the Peace Corps

My wife Tasha posted a message on Facebook in October telling everyone she was going skydiving for her 30th birthday. She also asked for any brave takers and only one person stepped forward. Shannon Tomlinson.

Six months earlier this would have been a total shock coming from Shannon. She was a member of our house church in the Underground Network here in Tampa, FL. She’s a fun woman with a vibrant personality, but there were times when she was invited to do something bold and she’d remain hesitant, standing in the back.

For instance, the previous December we held a Christmas karaoke party at our house and we all waved our arms to get her to come up and sing. “Oh no. I’m going to need a few more of those if I’m going to do that,” she said, pointing at a cider beer. It was a dichotomy, because Shannon has a big voice and is often the first to speak her mind. So it made perfect sense that after her friends coaxed her to get up there and sing Backstreet Boys, she found herself up there again. And again. Even without even the aid of cider beer.

She even talked us into holding another karaoke party. At her house.

So Shannon was already getting the hang of something many people miss their whole lives – letting God lead her past her fears. And on Oct. 27 she did it again. She jumped out of a plane with us.

10955602_824859370905971_6494816863642710837_n

This is a picture of where Shannon is living. It may not have much Internet access, but at least it has this!

God is always on the ride with us, and sometimes he gently pushes us out of the plane. Sometimes not so gently, but he always straps a parachute on us.

Shannon had an even bigger adventure awaiting her. In the previous few years she started racking up frequent flyer miles, though not for sight seeing, but mission trips to teach English, once in Russia and twice in Ukraine. It was a nice change since she taught second graders here in Florida, but she had then done that enough it was time to take it to another level.

“For a while I felt I wanted to do something more long term,” she told me in our Skype call. “So I started doing some research…and one night God woke me up, actually, and I just felt uneasy. I just felt he was saying you won’t be here next year, and I was like, what does that mean? The very next day at work one of my co-workers, we were just talking, small talk, and she mentioned something about the Peace Corps, and I was like, hmmm…”

And that led to her stepping off another plane. We held this Skype call just two weeks before she took off for the Vanuatu Islands, where she’d live without electricity or warm showers, where there would be no Facebook on her cell phone or opportunities for karaoke, and where the locals are tribal and might make us blush because they’re either naked or with only a patch of leather between us and them.

Shannon didn’t sign up for another two week mission trip, this one would last two years and three months. Not bad for a woman who’s lived all her life in the Tampa Bay area.

So I invited Shannon to share her emotional story with me in what would become my very first podcast. Please, give a listen to this interview as she shared some insight into the question of what it must feel like to leave the comforts of home behind in order to embrace the beauty of God’s call.


 

Please note that this is my first attempt at podcasting, so please bear with me a little bit. For those who are new to this format, these are audio files that can range anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours long, and they are especially useful during workouts, drives in the car, cleaning toilets, doing laundry, or any other task that allows an ear for listening. If you have any questions for me about this, please drop me a line.