Thursday, July 30, 2015

What I Learned in Guatemala

“O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past — stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”

I answered some questions last week about our mission trip to Guatemala. After I had that post drafted, my friend Kayse messaged me. Among the catch up was this: “I’d love to hear more about Guatemala! What did you learn?” Well, now that’s a question!

The whole trip was a step out of my comfort zone. With travel and logistics, I ended up being away from Ben for nine days – the longest I’d ever been away from either of the kids. I spent the week in a country whose language I didn’t speak. So, of course, I learned some things. I saw new things and experienced moments unique to that time and place.

But one thing that surprised me and taught me was the way our team served each other.

There were 13 of us from five different churches Murray area and four others who live there and work for Bethel Ministries International. Very few of us had relationships before preparing for this trip. Sure, our local group had meetings since January, when we all committed to go. And we did some fundraisers together.

But seeing God work within our group – in our conversations, prayers, laughter and service – was something I want to hold onto. Before Guatemala, God had been showing me how relationships come – and sometimes go, unfortunately – with seasons. My natural instinct is to huddle all my people together – around the table or in my Facebook newsfeed – and never let go.

Serving together for a week will build connections – and those connections won’t look like other friendships. {Tweet that.} While building houses, we had conversations that mattered about our lives back home. We talked about what God’s doing in our jobs and with our families. We trusted each other with pieces of our stories.

One of my favorite moments from the week came in the hotel parking lot. The whole team had just gotten back from eating together when one of the guys shared with Greg and me about a hard conversation he and his fiancĂ©e were having across the miles that separated them. They’re farther apart than Greg and I ever were, but we remember how hard distance can be on a relationship. We shared some things from our own 17 years of knowing each other. Like a dose of reality mixed with hope, we told him how building a relationship that lasts is hard work but how it’s worth it. And then Greg got a chance to pray with him.

Those are the moments that bond people and build a foundation for what God wants to do.

I had other encouraging conversations throughout the week. I shared about our current adoption plan and pieces of my faith testimony. I heard about other people’s dreams of new jobs, ministry opportunities, and schooling decisions. {Read more about how we spent the week in Guatemala.}

One night when we were reflecting on our day, one of the guys said, “We were listening to all these worship songs that make you want to do something. And here we are doing something.” It’s true – together we worked and worshipped. God was there and he moved throughout the week with us. And I believe he’s going to do more because of that week together in Guatemala.

I was reminded how service can happen wherever you are. {Tweet that.}

Sure, it's easy to serve in Guatemala, where the needs are so obvious. People don't have enough food and clothing. One family we had met had never heard about Jesus. Another family had but gave their lives to Christ for the first time.

But needs still exist wherever we are – in a hotel parking lot with a new friend, while we’re sharing a meal with friends we’ve known for years, when I pick up our daughter’s birth mom for a prenatal doctor’s appointment, when we work in our ordinary lives, and down the street from our home that lacks for nothing. God wants to use us – and our stories – to meet those needs. 

I don’t want to unsee what God showed me in Guatemala so I can be sure to see what he has for me here.

In other another moment in Guatemala earlier this month, I also learned Cate wants to be baptized. This was such a sweet surprise to end our week in Guatemala. And it’s happening SUNDAY! {Obviously, there will be more to come on that!}

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman for my favorite monthly recaps. Read other Things I Learned posts :: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September. October. November. December. {From 2015} January. February. March. April. May. June.

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