Hello again everyone! I’m so glad you could stop on by. I promised last time to give you the story of the actual trip part of my first short term mission trip, as my last post went way long on everything that led up to the trip. But it was all very important to me, and the prep part taught me a lot.
Anyway, you’re here to actually learn about the trip itself so here we go.
As I explained last time I committed in 2008 to go with the group going from my church body on a short term mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico (please see my last post for the whole story). So, in June of 2009 off I went.
The group we are a part of is Go, Inc. An amazing organization that enable multiple church bodies to connect and go on short term missions trips around the world. They are a pretty young group, and were able to just recently add a trip to Haiti. I highly suggest you go check them out, and see for yourself.
We work with the group Amor Ministries which has been working in the Tijuana and Tecate, area of Mexico for over 30 years. They are now also working at the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and in the area of Johannesburg, South Africa. They always partner with local pastors to help support the church that is there, and to connect with the local community through the church bodies that will be able to continue to help and encourage after the mission groups have left. Another amazing group. Please go check out their site, it will be able to give you so much more then I can here and now.
Back to the actual trip. We are a very large group, normally over 200 hundred people, and so you get to meet a lot of people from different walks, lifestyles, and thought processes. 😉 I love it. It’s The Church in action. People coming together because of Christ’s call to live for him. We are a small army; in fact we live in old army tents while down there. And have a team entirely dedicated to feeding us so that we can do the work we’re there for.
I’d been hearing stories about this trip for a long time, so I sort of knew what to expect environment wise, but you never really know something until you experience it. Yes there was a lot of dust and dirt, yes our bathrooms are a row of port-a-potties, and cement-sided-open-air-water-out-of-50-gallon-buckets showers, yes you only drink water from specific sources, yes it gets really hot during the day and really cold at night, and yes we build everything by hand (no power tools).
And yes I can see all the stars at night because we’re staying out in the middle of nowhere, yes I met people from all over the country who are ready to serve, yes I met some of the most caring people who loved us just for being there, who took what little they had to feed us a feast, who tell us we always have a place to stay with them if ever we’re there again, and yes I was totally hooked.
There’s normally a moment when you leave your own culture and experience something totally new and foreign to you, which people call “culture shock”. Many people have talked about when they first see full on poverty how their hearts break. I didn’t have that experience. I’d heard so many stories and seen so many pictures that when I crossed the border from the USA to Mexico, I was startled at the sudden change, but not overwhelmed.
Then I came back across the border, after a whole week working hard to build a house and living in community in tents, and that’s when it hit me. And hit me hard. I wasn’t shocked at the poverty. I was shocked at our excess. How I had just built a two room 11′ x 22′ (242 square feet) house, cement floored, unfinished inside walls, for a family that was ecstatic for it. And we think anything under 1000 square feet is tiny. (Please don’t think I’m any better, I live in this consumer culture and often lose my focus on what really matters. I am just trying to explain what hit me at that time.)
We camped out on the grass at a KOA in San Diego, it’s one of the most beautiful and restful spots, until our flight home the next day. The grass, trees, and flowers both overwhelmed me and soothed me. It was my refuge as I tried to process through everything.
What did I learn from my first trip? That things needed to change in my life. That going back to my old life wasn’t possible. That I needed more, more opportunities to serve. That I could serve in my everyday life just by being aware, truly caring, and being willing to actually do something. That I’d never be the same.
Have you ever had an experience that changed you? What did you do afterwards? What have you done since? Please share your stories below.
Besides their websites listed above here are some other links: