A mission trip is full of contrasts. You think you are going there to change people’s lives, but the change hits you hardest of all. We saw the abject poverty of so many Guatemalans who sleep on the bare ground in homes made of branches and rusty steel roofing, and we couldn’t help but contrast it to the comfort we have all come to know in America. True, almost all of us are immigrants or the children of immigrants in our country. But even though some of our team can still remember living in other countries, there is still culture shock when we leave behind our lives of ease to see the suffering and poverty that is normal for 2/3 of the world. But for the grace of God, we could be living in those same circumstances.
But God did not put us in the United States for us to make our lives better; instead He put us here so we could share His blessings with others. While in Guatemala, we got to see God heal over 90 people through the prayer of faith, and there were many salvations. We brought change by giving away food, clothes, shoes, beds, ovens, and funding, but at the end we recognize it is our own hearts that are forever changed. To see children happily jumping on their brand new bunk beds, to pray with a family dedicating the new oven that would change their life, to rejoice with elderly women who received their hearing and had their vision restored, to cry with people that life had torn apart and to watch the Holy Spirit fall on them in comfort and joy, all these things were our privilege as missionaries. Police officers asked us to pray for their country. Women gave us the jewelry from their own hands and necks as a love offering, Guatemalans were transformed as they learned to lay their hands on the sick and see them healed. As we prayed, the Holy Spirit fell upon us, ministering to all of us in waves of His love and power! Even our own missionary team was touched with the love of God and new love for each other.
The focus of this mission trip was the people of Guatemala. The people of Guatemala are loving, generous, and open. In spite of having so little they are generous and kind. A good paying job in Guatemala is where you can earn $10 for a 10-hour day answering phone calls from cranky Americans at a call center. Less well paid are the mothers and children who work with their hands month after month and then sell their wares on the streets at discount prices to vacationers looking for a bargain. But with faith, the size of a mustard seed, any mountain can be moved, even mountains like poverty and disease. We came away amazed that God can make such a strong bond between human beings who do not even speak the same language!
Surely, there were inconveniences and difficulties. Transportation was hard, and the beds were even harder. Not everyone we prayed for was healed immediately. There was unbelief, discouragement, and even temptation to disunity on the team that had to be fought through. Work we started had to be left unfinished. People we came to love we eventually had to leave behind. But instead of giving them only physical and spiritual blessings, perhaps the best thing we left them was hope.
God will change Guatemala through their hands, not ours. Our job was to plant; theirs is to water; God’s job is to make it grow.
As our days in Guatemala came to a close, we savored every last moment, enjoying the experience in the present moment. We were privileged to get know not only our new Guatemalan friends and our friends from Elevation Church, but also the people we thought we knew on our own mission team. Everyone had a part to play. We learned that no matter who you areand what talents you may have; God will always have a place for you in His work. We came expecting to serve. But we received countless unexpected blessings ourselves. Going on a mission trip, we tell ourselves, “we are going to change so many people’s lives!” True enough, but I can confidently say that our lives were changed much more. Thank you all for the part you played in sending us with the Gospel and making our feet beautiful messengers of God’s love.
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