I am so very thankful for the countless blessings I have received – starting with my decision to join our church’s mission team. A common perception with mission trips is….how WE will impact THEIR lives. The truth is….this was life-changing for ME.
One of those blessings is the message of Give, Send, Go and how important each of these roles are! God has given me many opportunities to give and send but I always wanted to be a goer. I waited 20 years for the opportunity to go on a mission trip without appreciating the significance of my giving and sending. Instead, I kept wondering “when will it be my turn?” Our team has been abundantly blessed with prayers, words of encouragement, and financial assistance from our givers and senders. I pray that they realize their importance and praise God much sooner than I did.
God has also blessed me with increased confidence in talking about and living my faith. In large groups, I have always gravitated toward children (I didn’t pay any attention to that fact until now). During our mission trip, I had the opportunity to play and sing songs with the local children from the Belizean community who were waiting for their parents. In American culture, parents would have instructed them not to talk to strangers (yes, I was one of those parents). The children were so loving and accepting; some climbed on my lap, some gave me hugs -- being with children is truly where I am most comfortable.
Reflecting about our last evening meeting….our leader had asked “where did you see God this week?” That simple question brought tears to my eyes – I saw him everywhere; in conversations with my TEAM, at meals with our gracious host and family, and in the incredible smile from a Belizean as they saw my face -- perhaps seeing clearly for the first time. But the most resonating encounter was a conversation with a 20-year-old troublemaker. He led me to believe that he only spoke Spanish and then laughed at me for trying to communicate with him. He told me of the “bad things” he has done, trying to shock me. When I asked him if he attended church, he told me that he didn’t deserve church or God, and he listed his illegal acts. I smiled and told him that we are all sinners and that we all fall short of God’s glory. And that it is by God’s grace and mercy our sins are wiped clean. Professing my faith has always been a struggle for me. God gave me this opportunity with this young man and the courage to say what was in my heart. To God be all the glory, Amen.