As a little girl, I spent many hours in the car with my family. We traveled to see my grandma and other relatives that live 4 hours away, along the Oregon coastline, or anywhere with an exciting point of interest. I quickly developed a love for these road trips, especially the times we’d jump in our purple Dodge Grand Caravan with no direction, and spontaneously arrive at a beach or park. Seeing new places, meeting new people, and making memories with my family made these long car rides glamorous to me and I anxiously awaited our adventures. On longer trips, I’d pack up my little Beauty and the Beast suitcase, filling it with my favorite toys and all the essential snacks for a long car ride. For these occasions, my mom would print out copies of Washington state road maps and put them in plastic covers. (showcase map with draw erase marker in hand) Then, she’d hand my sister and I each a dry erase marker and map, so we could trace out our route as we passed through each city. She told us to pay attention to all the signs on the freeway, so we’d always know where we were.
In many ways, my life has resembled a road trip. My destination is sometimes obvious but usually undecided, and there have been many detours and pit stops along the way. My name is Brielle Lamphere and this is my trip route. When I was a kid, I cruised along the highway with no agenda. I have many fond memories of dressing up in crazy costumes and acting out Disney songs or musical show tunes with my older sister. (The “Sound of Music” soundtrack was one of our favorites.) My childhood was carefree and happy and I sang along to my favorite upbeat song until I hit my first road block and the playlist suddenly changed. At the age of 8, I had a serious neck injury that caused 24/7 dizziness and nausea. I visited many doctors, but they were all stumped, treating me for vertigo and migraines, checking for brain tumors, and sending me to physical therapy. (At one point, I even had to wear this neck brace as a treatment.) After almost four years of trial and error, we discovered a former chiropractor who labeled my condition as a concussion. He found that, over time, my back and neck had contorted, causing my painful symptoms. Over the course of several months, with adjustments and natural supplements, my body slowly began to return to “normal.” I know God used this long detour in my life to teach me His timing, test my ability to trust in Him when everything else feels uncertain, and to cultivate my strength of focus. Even when doctors misdiagnosed me and their treatments didn’t help, I stayed focused on getting better and keeping a positive outlook while in pain.

At the end of 7th grade, my parents and I had a little “fender bender.” They wanted me to transfer from Ebenezer Christian School to Lynden Christian for 8th grade – an idea I was completely opposed to. I had finally found my niche at Ebenezer and I couldn’t imagine losing all my friends and starting over at a new place. But, somehow, they convinced me and I began my first day of 8th grade with a smile, hoping to make the most of a situation I dreaded. At first, it was hard to break into tight-knit circles of kids who’ve known each other since kindergarten. There were a lot of times I felt like an outsider, but I was determined to break in. I struggled to find a steady group of friends to take along for the ride, though there were many friendly people there.

When I began freshman year, I was uncertain of everything. I didn’t know where I belonged, I wasn’t sure what I should be involved in, and I didn’t know who to spend time with. So, I went searching for my identity. I put together a busy trip itinerary, trying out for the play and musical (here’s my special dancing shoes), applying for student leadership, and auditioning for choir. I planned out my trip route, similar to when I was a kid, meticulously tracing out the turns and preparing for pit stops. As I filled up my schedule, I thought this “rush hour” feeling would give me purpose and make me content. Instead, I felt drained. I enjoyed having a variety of friends, all of whom were involved in different activities. I spent breaks bouncing around the halls, finding the distinct groups and spending a few minutes with each but never fully invested or accepted in one circle.

Early in my freshman year, a group of 12 sophomore and junior girls invited me to be a part of a non-profit organization. (Place framed photo on desk) I jumped at the opportunity, oblivious to the fact that this would be the most beneficial experience of my underclassmen years and give me a place to develop my strength of input. As a part of the team, I was frequently faced with decisions, asked to provide feedback, and encourage the other members. The relationships I built with these girls became a support system and I learned through the many hours I dedicated to the organization that I was most happy when serving others.

During my sophomore year, one of my mentors and the executive director of our organization invited me to come along on an outreach trip to Arizona. I was thrilled to be going on a trip, adventuring alongside my friends and being able to help others. However, this experience was nothing like the fun-filled joy rides of my childhood. I didn’t realize what I was getting into and was not emotionally prepared for the trip that awaited me.

We spent our time in Arizona ministering to at-risk teens living at a treatment center called Mingus Mountain Academy. The girls there ranged from 10 to 18 years old, a culturally diverse group with the same purpose: to heal. I listened to many girls’ heart-breaking stories, filled with pain, self-harm, and abuse. One girl specifically lit a flame in my heart that has continued to grow. She was only 17 years old at the time; her life was filled with sexual abuse and rape. As she shared with me her life story, I was choked with helplessness. For her, the Academy provided an escape since everything in the outside world was dangerous.

This eye-opening experience guided my career decision. Learning about the ugly truths of sexual abuse developed in me the desire to spend my life defending and fighting for the victims of traffickers, doing whatever I can to stop this exploitation. Without this “fork” in the road of my life, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for justice or my heart for those who have been victimized. Trafficking is an issue everywhere and I hope to use my career worldwide to help others, seeing where God calls me to use my talents for service in His Kingdom.

With my destination in sight, I began my junior year disheartened. I was ready to graduate, make a difference, and conquer the world. So, again, I got involved. I became a worship leader at my church’s youth group, sang in the Chamber Choir, and discovered my passion for tennis (add tennis ball to suitcase). But, instead of activities that drained me, this time I filled my time with things I knew I loved. I took AP Language with Mr. Thomas and cemented my future goals, as I enjoyed learning the art of argumentation and realized my dream to be a lawyer fit well with my strength of strategic. This was the year I finally clicked with people because I wasn’t always worried about my performance and I was comfortable with being my true self. The less I focused on how my future would pan out, the more I could enjoy myself in the moment and make the most of my high school days.

My senior year mantra – and senior quote – has been “always take the scenic route.” (Pull out “Class of 2017” sign) I’ve struggled, this year especially, with juggling activities, work, and time for friends. These words have helped me to slow down every once and awhile and look around. When one of my closest friends got sick with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma this past winter, I was faced with a reminder of God’s route for our lives. It certainly wasn’t something Megan had prepared for and walking alongside my friend through her battle with cancer forced me to release my tight grip on the steering wheel. I had grown accustomed to feeling in control of my life, dictating the events of my high school career and mapping out my future. Sometimes there’s construction zones we can’t prepare for that God uses to take back the wheel and remind us He’s in control.

With senior year coming to a close (pull out grad cap), I realize how much I’ll miss Lynden Christian, my classmates, teachers, and friends. LC has been a highlight of my journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. (Pull out globe and gently spin at “diverse”) As I look toward my future at Western Washington University, I am beyond grateful for the solid foundation Lynden Christian has set for me. Next year, when I’m surrounded by a diverse community with views far different from my own, I can look to the freeway signs LC has engrained in me and stand strong in my faith, knowing my identity is found in Christ. My journey’s end hasn’t always been clear and I’ve faced roadblocks, rush hour traffic, and the occasional flat tire. But, through it all, I’ve been surrounded by a loving family, caring friends, and a supportive school that’s there for me when my battery dies or I take a wrong turn. My road trip adventure has only just begun and I realize now that true joy is found in the mystery of the journey, not the final destination. I can’t wait to see the twists and turns God has in store for me and how His ultimate trip route for my life unfolds.