by Monica Drzewicki, 2023 missionary (rider on New York Route)
God calls us –
Flashback— It’s the very first night of the Biking for Babies National Ride. Mary, our route leader, asked us what we were hoping to learn on our trip. I remember distinctly sitting there thinking, why am I here? I genuinely did not know at the time. I had only learned about Biking for Babies two months prior to my application. One of my closest friends told me she was going on a mission trip. After asking her dozens of questions, my curiosity was peaked. I understood the general idea; however, nothing could mentally prepare me for the National Ride. I could not sleep the first two nights of the ride. I felt my anxiety increasing. It was hard to imagine riding 600 miles in one short week. After the first full day of riding, my anxiety only got worse. I started spiraling. How could it be this hard and only be day one? I found myself questioning whether or not I was supposed to be here. Those cryptic thoughts almost had me giving up for good. If it wasn’t for Mary and Maddie, I would have given up the second day.
However, I am so grateful to have had them to encourage me to take the challenge. I wasn’t meant to give up that easy. None of us are. I challenged myself everyday to break through that mental block that told me I wasn’t good enough. I relied heavily on my new friends and God to give me strength.
One of my favorite lessons came from being on the bike. Spending hours on the bike leaves you with no choice, but to face your thoughts. It was day three of the National Ride, and we were biking from New York to east Stroudsburg. Being back in my home state felt extremely sentimental. I was biking through towns I used to go hiking in the summers with my friends. It helped me re-center to understand better why I was there. Each pedal stroke I took, I thought about all the women and children we would be helping through our mission.
This allowed me to connect back to myself. My mother raised my three siblings and I as a single mother. Many of these women we support may also be forced to do the same. My father became ill at a young age, which forced my mom to take on the role of mother and father. It was challenging to watch my mother struggle without much support. It caused a lot of resentment for me as a child. I found myself praying a lot for a miracle for my family. Unfortunately, it never came. Or at least never in the way I imagined it would. I spent a lot of my adolescence feeling hurt and angry at God. It was hard to process at a young age why I was chosen not to have a dad. Being raised without a dad doesn’t just affect our financial state, but also the mental and emotional development of a young girl. However, being on the bike I felt so connected to my father. He used to be an avid runner and biker back in his day. Something about being on the bike reminded me of his life. It reminded me of all the suffering he endured and still does to this day. In my selfish mind, I have always thought about how my dad’s illness had affected me. It was hard to process how much it affected the other members of my family, including my dad himself. There was financial burden and stress of raising three young children on my mom. It also affected my older brother in providing support to my mother and my sister far beyond his years. I was able to relate the physical suffering of biking to my family’s suffering.
From start to finish, Biking for Babies taught me a lot about myself. Sister Beata biked with us the second day of our journey. On day two, my spiral was full force. I had convinced myself that my purpose was not on the bike. However, sister Beata chatted with me for a while. She explained to me that I was called to this mission as a biker. As much as I didn’t want to accept it, I knew she was right. Times like this reminded me that God never gives up on us. If that’s true then why should I give up on myself?
Circling back to Mary’s initial question, at the end of the journey I was forced to learn why I was meant to be on this journey. I was meant to share my special gifts with my friends in helping them stay strong on the ride. I shared my love and support daily. I was meant to see the beauty of the strong males in our group that showed what a true male figure looks like. I was meant to see that love doesn’t look how it conventionally looks in the world. It’s about sacrifice. All of the missionaries showed true love to one another simultaneously throughout the week. From the support crew getting up extra early and going to bed last— to the biker making sure there was air in my tires every morning. We all showed our love for one another. There was meaning in us all being on this mission trip. We all provided a different gift. It truly exemplifies that all life is beautiful. At the end of the day, God calls us all. It’s our job to answer.