In two days I will be leaving for Guatemala for a short-term mission trip. This has been in the works for so long that it seems almost impossible that I will actually be there in two days! In addition to making lists and packing, I’m also taking some time to reflect on why this trip means so much me, what I’ve learned from the process so far, and what I hope to gain from the trip.
It all began a couple of years ago, really. At that time I felt very… well, spiritually useless. I have always tried to share the love of Christ with others and to treat my life like a mission field, for it is the mission field God has called me to, yet I still felt as though I was stagnating. There are so few people around me to whom I can witness, as it seems that everyone is either already saved or has heard the gospel and chosen not to believe. Nonetheless, I strive to be a servant to others. Somehow, though, I felt like I was missing a calling. That I was supposed to be doing more. I prayed and cried and begged God to show me where I was meant to be. I remember having conversations with my husband where I told him I wished we could sell our home and he could quit his job so we could leave this country and become missionaries. Unfortunately he didn’t/doesn’t feel that same calling. And do, for months on end I prayed for answers and God was silent.
Then, one Sunday in October of 2015, some missionaries our church sponsor came to share with the congregation. Their names are Dave and Debbie Amsler, and they run an outreach program called Planet Kids in Guatemala City. Their story was amazing, and their love of children was truly inspiring. One story that I recall from Mr. Amsler’s sermon that day was about the poverty of the families they work with. It seems that there is a Burger King just down the road from the Planet Kids building. One day they were discussing future meals for the children (the Amslers provive a meal to these children once a week – and for some of them it’s the only decent meal they get). One child expressed a desire to try Burger King as he had never had it before. Another child interjected that the idea was ludicrous because Burger King is only for “rich people” and not for the likes of them. Some visiting missionaries who there at the time were so touched by the story that they all pitched in and provided burgers and fries for all the children (several hundred, as I understand it) the very next week. The children were all SO excited to be enjoying “rich people” food! This literally brought me to tears. Something so simple as a quick run to get some fast food – something I am very guilty of taking for granted – is something these most of these kids had never before experienced, and likely may never experience again. At the end of his sermon, Mr. Amsler asked the congregation to prayerfully consider visiting them in Guatemala to help with their efforts there. In that moment I felt like God had lit a giant neon sign to grab my attention. This was where I was meant to be! This was the answer to many, many months of prayers!
I attended our church’s Guatemala informational meeting in December, and in January I began raising the funds needed to cover the trip. I had several generous donations, but I was still a long way from reaching my $1,800 goal. I had the idea to have a bake sale, which then turned into two bake sales: one at my husband’s work and one held in my neighborhood. I baked for about 20 hours over the course of two days to prepare enough goodies to sell. I hoped they would, but all I could do was pray that God would provide. Boy, did he ever come through! I couldn’t believe how many people bought my baked goodies! Many people donated above and beyond the asking price, and still others simply donated without even buying anything. My husband’s coworkers bought absolutely every last item I sent to work with him! The neighborhood sale the next day turned out even better, and dozens upon dozens of my wonderful neighbors showed up to buy treats, donate, and speak sweet words of encouragement. I made several hundred dollars from the sales, and then my in-laws matched the donation. I couldn’t believe that in two days I had raised the all of remaining funds needed, and the very next Sunday my trip was paid in full. I still marvel at the generosity of everyone around me!
Since January our team has spend many hours preparing for the trip, learning about Guatemala culture, and praying for the Amslers and the children and families we will be working with. In addition to outreach in the local public schools of Guatemala (the schools there allow missionaries to come and share with the children) where we’ll get to share the gospel and love on the kiddos, we will also be providing free medical services to local families who would otherwise have no access to such services. The clinic will be run by a doctor and PA, in addition to a nurse, myself (I’m a trained CMA) and countless volunteers. There will also be an optometrist providing free glasses and eye exams! We, all of us, are so excited to get to know these precious people and use our talents to serve them however we can.
I will be sharing the story of my trip in upcoming blog posts, but in the meantime I ask you to please pray with me for Planet Kids ministry, the Amslers, the kids and families they work with, as well as safe travel for our team.
Until I post again, God bless you all!