This trip was dramatically impacting in so many ways. Though I try to remain calloused to the great emotional implications that are associated with attending a very challenging mission trip WITH my husband, AND WITH my eldest daughter, AND WITH my father…all whom have significant impact upon the building of my faith here at home, I cannot transpose to you the gravity of this experience. I will try to quickly surmise the impressions permanently left upon my soul from each of them, and the heavy of the overall trip has left me processing.
First of all, I have always known that Jeremy is an excellent leader, but this trip made the clarification of such characteristic all the more prominent. We orchestrated so many different and yet impacting missions within one trip with such fluidity, it is obvious that the Lord had His hand on the vision that Jeremy was casting. I am thankful that he listens and allows the Lord to push us even when things seem impossible. Not only did I have fellow FBC-ers give kudos to your pastor, but the interpreters ALL shared with me how they enjoyed working with him and felt his leadership was exceptional. We were told that they enjoyed doing trips with our team because it was “real” mission work, where we get our hands dirty and make deliberate relationships with the people. And if anybody made relationships this trip, it would be Jeremy as he poured out theological training into Nestor, our young believer in Sarahuasi.
Second of all, I must tell you how God allowed me to watch my father grow. For all my life, my father has led by unspoken faith. By that I mean, I saw him pour into preparation for his Sunday School lessons week after week. I saw him help my mother with each and every musical, cantata, practice, and production through construction of props, stages and serving as a sound technician. I have seen him serve at countless church work days painting, building, cleaning, moving, sorting, and serving. However, I have never been a witness to my father in a cultural challenging environment that would awaken all of the stereotypical assumptions within his media slanted experience. Not only did Dad become more aware of the wounded and lost, his spiritual gifts of service was exercised and blessed as he led a crew up a very challenging hike – twice – orchestrated the construction of a roof in under a 48 hour window, including having to build a ladder after he fell off the one provided by the villagers, and camped away from any form of communication in an even more remote location. I am proud to call you dad and so very thankful that God allowed us to experience this together.
My daughter is different. She is not 8. I don’t think we really know her age. There is an insight and maturity within her that is often greater than my own. We knew when Emma began asking to go that she was ready…the delay was more of as to whether Jeremy and I were ready as parents. Emma flourished in the villages. Her fear that prevented her from going any further was not of the people, but simply of the language barrier. She wanted to play with the children and to experience their life. When we asked her what she thought of the experience mid-trip, she very simply said, “these people are far more loving than we are.” To see their love comes from within, not with great wealth in possession, not with great knowledge of the world, just genuine affection is great intuition. We were blessed as parents to watch Emma leave from under our wings and serve with others on the team, which also added great growth in Emma’s confidence and faith. She cooked with the cooking team. She painted nails with Ms. Brenda. She prepared a devotion with Mrs. Patsy. She helped children color and draw with me during VBS. She hiked a 5 hour hike with her father and myself and she shopped in the market for her sister first, before herself. She blesses me every day and I am thankful to have served with her.
My burden that I am left with from this trip is this; We had an inside joke that La Fiesta Follows the Gringos because I don’t think we slept an entire night the whole trip as a party was happening outside our window no matter where we were…literally. These parties broke my heart though as I watched thousands of people behaving in a way that gave no glory to the Creator and it made me all the more aware of a world that is saturated with people living in a way that does not acknowledge the giver of life. We are just impacting a small fraction of the lost and dying world and the urgency to reach these people and awaken them to their fate gave me such sadness. So I ask that as you pray for future mission trips, pray that everywhere we walk, people are made aware of the difference of Christ and the difference causes a ripple effect that will reach the world.