What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?
There are so many different ways this question could be answered and my first thought was my divorce. But, I want to go a different route tonight. I want to talk about my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic in March of 2002. I had heard about this trip through the group “Wings of Morning” who came to our church camp every summer and did the music. I was a freshman in college at Baptist Bible in Missouri and the trip happened to land on my spring break. I jumped in! I was excited, nervous, scared. I flew to Atlanta, GA alone to meet up with this group going on this trip together. I didn’t know a single person. And for those of you that really know me know that this was not an easy hurdle for me to jump. But I know God called me to this trip. I met some pretty amazing people on this journey. Friendships that I still have today and cherish. As many of you know going to another country for the first time can be quite a culture shock. Especially if you are going to a third world country or one that is filled with poverty, sickness, hurt and the lost. This alone changed my life. On this trip we worked with a lot children. We went into the community, schools, churches, and sang with the group and did skits for them. Then we got to just hangout. One day we were in the city center doing face painting with the children and it gave me life. I love how going on these trips does way more for my heart then I ever do for them. Learning about the culture and the things they lacked really opened my heart and eyes to missions. This is where my heart for missions was born. When I travel to do mission work there is NO sweeter place for me. I am the happiest when I am there serving those people. You can’t beat it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I would LOVE for it to be a long term thing for me one day. I have been so blessed to go on several trips since then. Following the DR trip I went to Chile and Argentina in the summer of 2002 with the same group and did similar work. Then in 2008, 2009, and 2010 I went to Guadalajara Mexico and worked with a church VBS there. Then in December of 2010 I went to Buena Vista, Guatemala for the first time. This trip really did a number on me. We were the first team from my church to go there and there was really no agenda. We were there to meet the people and learn about the ministry that had already formed and the new ministry that was being born. I fell in love with this community. Playing with the kids, loving them, meeting the different families and worshipping God in this place tore me up. I walked away a different person. A thankful person. A grateful person. I have anything and everything I could ever want right at my fingertips and I am still not satisfied sometimes. But I look around at those children and their families who have NOTHING. No running water, nothing but a mud floor, a leaky roof, no internet, or tv, no ac or heat and they are the happiest people in the world. Sure they have hard times and suffer from many diseases and unforeseen events but they don’t know any better. They are thankful for what they do have and they make the best of it every day. This December I get to return to Guatemala. I will get to spend a little bit of time in Buena Vista but most of my time will be about 6 hours outside of Guatemala City on the Leiva Coffee Farm. I cannot wait for this amazing experience. I know there are great things in store for this trip and I can’t wait to see how God does it. He is amazing and shows up just at the right times. All of these trips opened my eyes to what God is truly about. In James 1: 27 it says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I want to look after widows and orphans and NOT be polluted by the garbage of this world. We get so easily entangled in the things of this world that we miss the point. I don’t want to miss the point anymore. And when I go on short term trips to work with those “less fortunate” so to speak, it actually shows me that I am less fortunate in so many other ways. I love being the hands and feet of Jesus and I hope and pray that He continues to let me do so through missions. I’ve learned that life isn’t always better with more, I’ve learned that less is more, I’ve learned that I take so many things for granted, I’ve learned that the things I complain about are so dumb compared to what others may be facing. I’ve learned that I have it pretty dang good even on my worst day here in the States. We are blessed. And I am blessed. And I am just so thankful that God has given me the chance to love on others and show them His love and His grace. Thank you for being apart of my my journey.