As we all prepare our brains for all the work that comes with the end of the semester, many others here at NCU are also preparing their hearts for a missions trip. If you are unaware of the trips this year, we have the Cambodia team leaving May 7th, Mexico team leaving May 13th, and the Nicaragua leaving June 16th. Last year I went to Mexico to serve in Tijuana. This year I will be returning back to TJ to serve some of the same people again. I am so blessed and honored to be a part of the work God is doing down there. This year we get two more days than the last trip. Hearing this news a few weeks ago excites me because when the end of the trip came last year, we were no where near ready to leave. The relationships we made down there were incredible and thinking about it only excites me for the upcoming trip.
One thing that stood out to me last year was how much of an impact we made with just our presense. Many of the places we visited are ignored by normal people. For example we visited Campo de Fe. We had to drive up a very sketchy hill in our vans in order to reach the top where one lady was taking care of about a dozen older men. It is a what we call a nursing home here in the states. When we walked in, their faces lit up and smiles started spreading like wild fire. These people are hardly ever visited by people, let alone the very family members that put them there in the first place. We played bingo with them and exchanged a few testimonies. At the end we gave the single lady who takes care of these men a bouquet of flowers and she immediately bursted into tears.
Another example of an impact I made on just my appearance being present is when we visited a place called Alamar. Alamar is a dirt poor community where people live in wooden shacks on the side of a freeway. When we visited, I was approached by a young boy. He wanted to play chase where he chases me and I run from him. We did this for about 45 minutes before I tried telling him that I was tired. At that point, he tackled me to the ground and insisted that we keep playing. He started punching me and pulling my shirt down and I this point I got a little annoyed. I tried hiding in order to rest and I continued to play with him until what felt like forever. When I was told it was time to go, I was glad because I didn’t have to get beat up by this kid anymore. As we walked to the van, he gave me a hug from behind and told me he wanted a picture. It was I this point that I realized what my worth was to him. I felt like I was meant to be the older brother he never had for this short time that we were visiting this community. Before we left I told him that I would be back again. Part of me hopes that he was able to leave this dirt poor community to live at a better place. the other part of me hopes that I can see him again in order to fulfill my promise I made to him.
With that said, my hope this year is to visit the very same people I made relationship with last year. All of us returners have not forgotten the relationships we made on this trip and we cannot wait to continue building these relationships. I hope to visit the same little boy and be the older brother he needs me to be for the short amount of time I will be with him. It was in these moments that we realize how big of a world we really live in, and to put that into perspective, our past leader Jen Little puts my thoughts into perfect words:
“On the other hand, I hope each of our worlds get bigger. Somewhere, on a 25-hour flight from here, dangerous rescue missions are happening on a scale that is unfathomable to our upper middle class comfortable lives. If we haven’t seen it with our own eyes, all we can picture is our tiny world filled with Starbucks, homework, and Netflix. But after you’ve walked through dusty streets in your third-oldest pair of Nikes and seen and touched the destitution of entire communities who have never owned a pair of shoes, your perspective on life is altered in a way nothing else can accomplish.”
As all of our trips approach us quickly, I can only pray that God is preparing our hearts to be broken down in order to see the giant world that we live in. To think that He works in all places at all times is unfathomable. We hope that you will be praying for our safety on these trips and that you yourself can realize how big or God really is.