God’s Peace. When you are doing something that brings glory to the Father, He will give you the peace you need. Leaving your family and kids for a week is not easy. Leaving your wife and kids for a week to leave out of the country is a whole new level. I’ll be honest, it was a struggle to say goodbye as my little girls gave me their final hugs to their daddy. But, as soon as I entered the airport terminal, and immediate feeling of peace and security overwhelmed my spirit. God gave me His peace right when I needed it.
Sometimes Things Get Dirty. The low-light of my trip taught me a great lesson. I was having so much fun playing soccer with the kids after our gospel kid’s program. One of the kids kicked the ball to me, and as I attempted to head it into the “goal” (two tree branches in the ground), my back foot slipped out from under me and I landed head first in a huge mud puddle. I was covered in mud from head to toe. But it was in that moment that God taught me. The pastor’s son began to take off his shirt to give to me to wear…a young man, who I later saw wearing that same shirt (probably one of the few he owned) was willing to give up something for me, whom he just met. Talk about being humbled. Not because I was full of mud, but by this young man’s willingness to give. Lesson learned. Be willing to give, even when you have little to give.
Gratefulness. No running water for 4 days. Houses made of plastic and tin metal. Toilets flushed with a bucket. House walkways covered in trash ankle-deep. Kids abused and neglected. If I can’t have gratefulness after this experience…shame on me. And shame on me for any covetousness I will have for the rest of my life.
Significance of the Program. In America, a puppet program may be boring or even weird for the kids. After all, it’s tough to compete with Pixar, Dreamworks, and Sesame Street. But where we were, these kids had very little. It made our program more significant. Not because we wanted to the focus of the attention, but because we wanted to bring these kids something very special. It really put things in perspective.
Minister Like a Mission Trip. Oftentimes we go all out for mission trips and pour our hearts into these trips. There is no reason this should not happen here. Do I have the same passion for the kids in VBS, AWANA, and Sunday School? I hope so. But reality is, there are times when I become complacent. Lord, help me ministry everyday with a passion for sharing Jesus and his love with kids, in Central America, in Africa, and in America.
God’s Grace. When you see little kids bringing their toddler siblings to these programs, often feeding them with a bottle and putting them to sleep, you can’t help but see God’s grace. I saw God’s grace in how a little girl brought her twin baby brothers to a feeding center and the little boys did not make a peep. I saw God’s grace in a 5-year-old boy who brought a one year old to the children’s center and never heard the little girl cry. “Let the little children come to me”…well, I saw this happen right in front of me. I saw how God allowed these children to come, by His grace.
Be in the Moment. If I was transparent, there were times where I could have mailed it in, and just taken a rest from a full trip. One such moment was after teaching an adult Sunday school class in a small rural church. Instead, a little girl caught the corner of my eye. She was three, and as cute as could be. I reached my hands out during the final songs of the service, and she jumped in my arms. Her grandmother in front of me, with a big smile on her face. I asked where her mother was, and I recognized the Spanish word that came next…muerta. Her mother was dead, and the grandmother was taking care of her, and 3 other siblings. My heart broke as I held this little girl in my arms. If I would have mailed it in, I would have missed these hugs, I would have missed this story, I would have missed the opportunity to tell the grandmother I would be praying for her. Lord, help me be in the moment more in my life. I don’t want to miss these moments.
Thank you for all your prayers this past week. God truly blessed, and my life will never be the same. I’ve always said that mission trips are life-changing. And after this trip, I’ll say it with an even louder voice.