Officer's Daughter to experience Mission Adventure in 11 Countries
The Adventure Plan
Monthly Badge & Gun segments will be devoted to answering that very question, no doubt with many exciting details.
Twenty-three-year-old Kirby, the daughter of Senior Police Officer Neil McErlane of Westside Patrol (Night Shift) and his wife Julie, is about to embark on an ambitious 11-month mission project.
"Adventures in Missions" is a Christian missionary program headquartered in Gainesville, Georgia. Its signature project, the World Race, signed up Kirby and others from her 21-35 age group to undertake special missions in 11 different countries over a period of 11 months.
This police officer's daughter is going through the fundraising process while getting ready for the July training camp. The actual mission "launch" date will be in September.
In her efforts to raise the $15,500 necessary to cover her expenses, Kirby made an extremely positive impression on the HPOU board, which agreed to support her with a $1,000 contribution.
(She is not out of the fundraising woods yet. Having raised $4,200, Kirby faces another few months seeking the necessary monetary support. Mail tax-deductible contributions to Adventures in Missions, payable, Box 534470, Atlanta, GA 30353-4470. If you decide to donate, make sure to include her name in the memo line).
Interestingly - and, yes, typically - Kirby hopes to go on an HPD ride-along with an officer and plans such a "trip' before her mission trip. She compares her calling to policing in many ways.
In fact, Kirby's mission schedule sounds very similar to that of a rookie HPD officer.
"I will get to experience my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Easter and all the other holidays while with Adventures in Missions," she explained.
The spirit is willing.
"I knew that God was calling me," she said, referring to a time in college four years ago when she learned about Adventures in Missions. "I prayed about it and I knew in my heart that God was calling me to one day go and serve in places like Cambodia and Mozambique."
"This was so impressed on my heart that there was nothing that was going to stop me from doing this. I had no reservations about experiencing life in one land after leaving my possessions behind in another."
The calling began while she was a student at Abilene Christian University in the West Texas city of Abilene, where she earned a degree in Family Studies. As time passed and her conviction solidified, Kirby prepared to "step away from my comfort zone" and join like-minded individuals willing to help the less fortunate in the name of Jesus Christ.
"This is what I was meant to do," she said, striking the same chord one hears from a recently recruited HPD cadet. "I have no idea where this may lead me in regards to a career here in the U.S.
"I have been very interested in one day becoming a Child Life specialist. But I'm going where God leads me."
A Child Life specialist focuses on meeting the emotional needs of families in hospitals, particularly young children involved in surgery or those who might be experiencing a brother or sister in the traumatic conditions often found in hospitals.
"You get down on the child's level, explain things to them and communicate with them about what's happening, what they're going through," she explained.
Kirby is a resident assistant at a senior living facility in Sugar Land and also volunteers twice weekly at Texas Children's Hospital. She described her present and future calling as "a very rewarding job that's also very difficult."
A Few Specifics
Again, she is sounding like someone familiar with policing.
In September, Kirby will be part of a squad of missionaries on a route where they perform different duties and achieve specific tasks in each country. Exactly what she will be doing on the 11-month, 11-country mission trip is only generally known so far.
She knows it will vary.
The eleven countries are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam/Laos, Tanzania, Mozambique, Swaziland, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Moldova, Romania and Ireland.
Cambodia and Thailand are world leaders in human trafficking and forced prostitution. "We will be working with local churches and ministries in these specific countries," she said. "We will go into red light districts and connect with girls who are sold and are part of trafficking.
"We will go into bars in touristy clothes, order water at the bar and talk with the girls who are there. Most of them are younger children who must go through slave labor to earn their money."
This is just one example of what she and her missionary colleagues might encounter on this special mission. She knows the work won't be easy and rightly figures that the bonding experience with her fellow missionaries between now and the launch date will build a powerful bedrock for this detailed operation.
Speaking of bedrocks, this Houston native grew up in a strong, church-going family in Sugar Land. While dad worked the Westside nightshift, usually on patrol, mother Julie served as an executive secretary for a drilling company. Currently, her older brother Neil works for an off-shore drilling company.
Officer McErlane beams with pride when he talks about his daughter.
"She's made A's and B's from kindergarten on," McErlane said. "She graduated with honors from Abilene Christian and worked with children in Abilene. She gave up her summer to work in a camp for retarded kids.
"When she graduated last year, it was the first year she was home the entire time she was in college. She's always serving others and is not worried about herself.
"She went to Nicaragua in 2010 for about five weeks. She had to raise $5,000 for the trip and did that all by herself. She gave up her summer to work with kids down there, lived in difficult conditions and enjoyed it.
"She learned all about World Race and decided to go for it, to put her career on hold for a year. That's Kirby - giving for others."
The family attends the mission-minded, non-denominational River Pointe Church in Sugar Land. Kirby served with the special needs ministry and has participates in various Bible studies.
Kirby was involved in dance from the fifth grade on up, often in competitions. She was a member of the Austin Angels, the dance team at Sugar Land's Stephen F. Austin High School until her graduation. She also served in various leadership organizations, including the PALs (Peer Assistance Leadership), Student Council and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
At Abilene Christian she studied abroad in England for one semester, earning 15 hours' credit for basic subjects not necessarily related to her Family Studies major. The study abroad solidified her desire for special service in foreign countries.
Kirby said she definitely started hearing the call for this Christian-oriented service early in her college career. And now she is answering that call.
The Badge & Gun will be reporting where in the world she's going and what she'll be doing. She also will blog weekly from here and give support updates. Go to her World Race blog at http://kirbymcerlane.theworldrace.org