Several years ago Gary and I decided it was time to take our girls on a mission trip. We were fortunate to have a good friend whose parents are missionaries in Guatemala and he put us in contact with them. After emailing back and forth we picked a date, got all the girls passports, made reservations, did some training, planning and packing and headed to a foreign country with 5 girls. Let me correct that last line. We headed to a foreign country with 5 VERY SPOILED girls. The oldest daughter was expecting and unable to go with us.
The first half of our trip was spent at a Christian school in Chimaltenango which is run by the Reynolds through their ministry called, His Appointed Time. We played, taught, praised and loved on the cutest group of kids you've ever seen. In the afternoons we did some painting at the school. We were privileged to get to see the site for the new restoration center that they were planning to build and get to pray for the future of the ministry there.
The second half of the trip was spent in in a little village named Atitlan. Three
volcanoes sit around the lake and the mountains are dotted with brightly colored buildings which are nestled in lush green foliage. Most of the people wear their native attire and the different weaves denote their particular tribe.
The girls and I had a blast shopping with all the local vendors. We picked out our treasures and Gary and Lindsay did the bartering and paying. Lindsay is not much of a shopper but her Spanish came in handy for wheeling and dealing.
After deciding to take a tour around the lake by boat, we all loaded the seaworthy craft and shoved off. Just as we were leaving another man jumped into the boat.
After a short drive we began pulling into a small village. Not being proficient with the language we were not really sure what was going on. Gary became a bit anxious but maintained a calm demeanor so as not to alarm us women who were totally oblivious to the situation as we took in all the beauty of the view. Our unexpected passenger simply jumped out of the boat and Gary made it clear that we were not wanting to visit the village and we were once again on our way. It never occurred to me that we could've been robbed or left for dead somewhere. I suppose it's sometimes a good thing not to have trust issues but in retrospect, maybe a third world country is not the best place to be a trusting soul.
Our next scary moment took place around dusk. We were sitting inside an open air restaurant feeding our starving shoppers when we heard what to us sounded like loud gunfire. The room went dark and we were all trying to figure out what was happening while we somewhat crouched down at the table. The waiters appeared with candles and explained that a transformer had blown and we would be dining by candle light. I'm of the mind now that it was a plot so that we would be unaware of what we were eating, as it was the worse meal we had on our trip. We are relatively certain this was where Lauren Beth contracted her stomach woes requiring her to start the antibiotics we packed. She was still running fever when we boarded the plane and I had to get a bit testy with the flight attendant who refused to find me a pillow and blanket for her. I tried not to cause a "Meet the Parents" scene but let's just say that she did indeed find her a blanket.
To sum it all up, it was a courageous adventure in the unknown but one that none of us will ever forget. I think of all my trips and travels this had to be one of my very favorites. It was filled with spiritual awakenings, adventure, fun, and lots of love and laughter.
In September I will be making my 4th trip to Guatemala as I lead a team there to do some mission work. I'm thrilled that 2 of our girls will be going with me this time. It will be an honor to get to serve alongside Lauren Beth and Melanie again in this beautiful country and among these humble and precious people.
I would like to report that as I type this 2 more of our girls are currently in Brazil doing ministry work. This is Emily's second trip to the Amazon and Lauren Elizabeth's first. Lindsay went 2 years ago but decided not to return this year.
From our first mission to Africa in 2003 I can tell you that each trip takes a certain amount of courage. Courage to step out of your comfort zone and step into an unknown culture. Each step is committed to being God's hands and feet and helping to fulfill the "Great Commission". "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt. 28:19-20
You never know how much you are capable of until you feel incapable. The freeing moment comes when you admit you are unable to do it and allow God to supply you with all the strength, courage, and wisdom you will need for the journey knowing that He is true to His word and ..."with you always, to the very end of the age".