“How was your missions trip?”
I smile and slightly hesitate before I make my reply, “Amazing!” Since our return from Tijuana, Mexico, I’ve been asked this question countless times. And each time before I give an answer I can’t help but to briefly reminisce over the impact those 9 days had on our family. There’s so much to say, so much to process, so many incredible memories… I wish i could in seconds respond to those asking by scrolling through an album of snapshots. But it still wouldn’t do justice to paint for them clearly the imprint this trip made on our lives. To say it was a great experience is an understatement. Yes it was a great experience (for lack of better words), but in the kingdom of God it’s not just about the experience. The experience, in a way makes it seem like it was all about us…. even though at times it was. But when we got our eyes off of us and focused our eyes on the people, that’s when we truly saw through HIS eyes. That’s when we really got a glimpse of what we were there for. That’s when it became, a KINGDOM TRIP, not just a great experience.
The missions trip was the final part of the 4 month discipleship school my husband Aaron and I were a part of. We knew there would be an option to go on this trip when we first signed up for D-school. But to be honest, I was not thinking we would go… let alone bring our kids. (Even though ironically one of my goals I’d written out at the beginning of the year 2018 was to go on a missions trip!) It was like I tried to find every practical thing to throw out at God as if to say, “Now here’s the list of things that couldn’t possibly go wrong… haven’t you thought of this?” My mom”ness” was kicking in, in full speed. God wasn’t really interested in my list of reasons why we couldn’t or shouldn’t go though. God just kept reminding me of what HE could do. Just like our whole move to Texas (I guess i’m like the Israelites during the exodus… I continue needing reminders). I’m so good at coming up with every reason why I can’t do something, when all he’s trying to do is remind me of what He can do! It really is funny when you think about it. Like me giving reasons to the God who created me. Humorous. But for some reason, when we’re standing up against that decision and we feel the weight of everything that could go wrong, it’s difficult to remember that He’s the one carrying the weight anyway! When it came down to it, Aaron and I decided that it was either all of us go or none of us go… and if none of us went, we knew we’d regret it. We’ve stepped out in faith before, and every time Jesus proves to be faithful. Why wouldn’t He this time? We decided to trust Him.
I will never forget the day our team presented the drama they’d prepared, and afterward we were sent out to pray with people in the crowd. Our family of 5 decided we would together find someone to pray with. I spotted a hispanic women with two boys, one sitting on each side of her. The older one looked around 15 and the younger maybe 10 years old. We discovered very quickly that my little Spanish would not suffice in this situation. There was quite a language barrier and no translator was available for us. “Oh no,” I was thinking, “this is getting no where really fast.” Then to my surprise my 7 yr old pulls a tract out of his pocket. Unknown to Aaron and I (earlier that day while we had been rehearsing music), some of the others on our team had trained our boys on how to walk through this little booklet with someone to lead them to Jesus! What?! Our 6 yr old then grabs the booklet from his brother, opens it up and begins to share with this woman and her boys about Jesus and why he came to die for our sins, and how he made the way for us to have relationship with God. She immediately lit up, and I could instantly see what God was doing here. My husband and I sat there bewildered, not really knowing whether to cry or smile or what! We don’t have to speak their language to show them the love of Jesus. I know that woman saw Jesus in my boys as they smiled and spoke to her that day. The boldness of our kids inspired us to have the same fervor!
Throughout our time there, we also got to know the employees at the hotel we stayed at. Everyday we had little conversations here and there with the concierge, the bell boy, the cook, the manager. They called us by first name as we greeted them daily heading out to our team meetings at the church. We heard about their families, and what their lives were like. All of this was just being friendly and living on mission. One day, our family was taking a much needed rest time and eating our lunch in the hotel lobby. A few of the workers at the hotel came through and started loading piles of towels and supplies into the elevator. My husband jumped up and joined them, helping them finish the job. They were all astounded. They tried to tell him to stop, put he insisted on serving them. Later that afternoon, our team again did the drama presentation on the boardwalk right by the hotel. A few of these hotel employees happened to be on a break so they came out to watch. Aaron spotted them at the top of the steps and ran up to greet them. God began to soften their hearts as they both watched the presentation intently. Both men said they wanted to receive Jesus, and they wanted a new life! Wow! Aaron prayed with them, and the angels rejoiced! There were tears of joy that day! These are just a few highlight stories of what happened there in TJ. We were overwhelmed with the move of God, and the love of God for his people. From the migrant camps, to the busy shopping malls, to the homeless in the red light district, we saw the presence of God! We may not have been able to meet all of their material or physical needs, but God filled a need that nothing on this earth can. For us and for them.
Yes, this missions trip had it’s challenges. Yes we had fits (are you kidding? of course we had fits with a 4, 6 and 7 yr. old!). Yes we had uncomfortable situations. But somehow each one of those things didn’t seem to matter as much. It was kind of like when we were out there on the mission field, we knew what our purpose was… we had a clear vision of what our family was there to do. When our eyes were focused on the kingdom, things like a child constantly whining for a snack, dirty clothes, and no blowdryer just weren’t that big of a deal. (We also need to thank many of you who sent financial support to get us there!!! This as well kept us focused even more so, knowing that you had enough faith that God would do something awesome, and you believed in us enough to send us. THANK YOU!) All that to say, the everyday trivial tantrums, changed plans, and just mere exhaustion at times didn’t quite phase us as much as it normally would. We got really good at rollin with it, ha ha… And we didn’t just survive this trip, we thrived! God surpassed my every expectation.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. “