I made it back! I’m home I’m home!
Guatemala was a life-changing event. UNBELIEVABLE.
But now I’ve got 6 chances to share it with you (maybe more!) as I fulfill my response to the six ways Seth Barnes says that a short-term mission trip can change your life. (Read my 6 previous blog posts beginning with the July 7th post if you are new to my blog – that was the first of the 6 blogs I wrote about this mission trip.)
According to Seth Barnes, the sixth and final way a short-term mission trip can change your life is by growing your faith. Seth explains, “A good short-term missions will throw you into the deep end, forcing you to the end of your comfort zone and resources, to a place where you’re forced to depend on God in new ways. This dependence is the posture God is waiting for in order to grow our faith.”
I must say I went into this mission trip with my eyes wide open and without expectations of any kind. It started out as a challenge in just feeling comfortable with leaving. We were having problems with Amanda and her having enough care – things were a mess! – and I felt awful leaving Ted (who had to work) with trying to figure everything out. Of course, things worked out and I left – and Amanda was fine – and Ted went to work. Besides, once I was gone, there was nothing I could do to help back home. I thought I would worry all week. But I couldn’t – I didn’t have the time! I will say that I actually felt at peace and knew in my heart that all was well back home. And it was. Thank you God.
As far as growing in my faith and depending on God … that happened in many forms during my week in Guatemala.
One way I found myself having to depend on God was with some of the dental work we did. Many of the adults in Guatemala had abscessed and hurting teeth that needed extracted. Here in the States, a dentist or oral surgeon does extractions after an x-ray photo of the tooth they are taking out. We did not have access to x-rays or any kind of fancy extraction tools or equipment. Many times, Dr. Bisaro went in ‘blind’ and would have trouble getting access to and getting a grip on the tooth he was pulling. There was nothing much I could do while he was searching. I would find myself leaning in to the patient and closing my eyes, praying that God would work through Dr.’s hands, through his fingers, and into the instruments he was handling to guide the extraction. It’s all I could do. Pray for God’s guiding hand.
We also did not have high tech steam sterilization equipment. This is the bin of antiseptic that our instruments got dunked and swished in – then I would rinse them in the tap water (that we weren’t supposed to drink) and start on the next patient.
Most people who travel to Guatemala have to be careful about what they eat or drink so that they do not get sick. We had a designated restaurant where we ate all our meals. The owner was a woman who was ‘trained’ how to cook for us weak-stomach Americans so we do not get ill. We still kept the health of our group a priority in our daily prayers. No one wanted to get sick. No one did! But the food DID get questionable sometimes:
Prior to my leaving on this trip there were several persons who expressed concern over my overall safety in being in La Union, Guatemala. We were housed in a lovely building amongst a cluster of buildings, and behind a chain link fence. Whenever we came or went, there was a man who acted as gatekeeper and locked and unlocked the gate for us. I never felt in danger. I never felt scared. Even when walking around the streets in the town, people were always kind and respectful. The children and adults were quick to say “Hola” or “Buenos dias” or even a big-grinned American “Hi!”. Our prayers for safety were always answered. God kept us safe.
We also would finish a day and wonder if the dentistry we did, or the English lessons we helped with, or the people we spoke to, or the care we showed would in any way serve God or benefit these people. We didn’t always know that for sure. It is purely by faith that God helped us do His will by planting seeds of friendship and Christian care and love – that they may eventually take root and make a difference. What we did was not done for US it was done for OTHERS. It was (and is) in God’s hands. There was so much hope and life in the eyes of the young people we met. Hopefully, what we shared will help change things for the better for them.
My trip to Guatemala was fantastic. It was hard. It was exhausting. It was beautiful. Did it change me? I think so. My perspective is definitely different. I’ve seen people who live happily with so little. It makes our busy, cluttered lives here seem so superficial.
At one of our first meeting prior to going to Guatemala, Pastor Rick made the comment that a mission trip is like: A week away that will last a lifetime.
Yeah – what he said!
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding