September was a *complete* change of pace for us. After a summer of craziness, team-hosting, traveling, and cooking for at least a dozen people every meal, things suddenly felt very quiet. We got cracking on the house construction, went to a bunch of Cloe's soccer practices and games, and started ballet for both Cloe and Gabi. Our BIG news for the month is that we have launched our "Christmas `11 at the orphanage" project! You can go to my blog for details.
Nathan only took one short trip down to the coast, where we have just started making contacts. He and his 2 buddies installed 16 filters and met some really great people. We are excited about the doors that God is opening for work down there!
This month, we thought it might be fun to let you hear from someone else. Since we've had so many people through here over the last 7 months, we asked a few of them to share a little bit about what they took home from their trip to Southern Mexico.
I was able to go to the Chiapas early in the year for 4 weeks of intense Language School, and one week in the jungle of installing water filters and doing kids' programs. The last week was a true test. It was a true reality check with my heart. How eager was I to communicate with people that I had only a few things in common with? Without a translator.
Without speaking very much Spanish, something that I quickly realized is that body language speaks volumes. It caused me to ask, what message are my eyes giving? My actions? Am I quick to serve them? Or to at least meet them and try to remember their names? (And that was hard!)
I later returned to the Chiapas in June of this year for the summer jungle trip. Our team took two 5 day trips and visited several different villages with the main purpose of installing water filters. I'd never imagined myself living in something that, in the states, might be considered a shed, or a shack. I'd never really wondered if I could tolerate chickens squawking in and out of the house all day. I'd never considered the lifestyle of the wives and ladies there, their eyes hazed with years of smoke-filled cooking. (By the way, I experienced this making soup for the team one night. It was awful!)
Being there with the people caused me to focus on them, and what their lifestyles required of them. But, no matter who you are or where you live, everyone needs the Lord. It made me consider the people here where I live. They need the Lord too, though they well know about Him.
Since returning home, I've really been driven to consider what things are eternally worth the while - whether I'm here at home, doing missions work, or wherever God has me. I am very grateful that God has given me the opportunity to have my eyes opened to a different perspective. It has played a continuing part in helping me realize that absolutely everything I do matters, and is important to God.
I was amazed that people could live in such bad conditions in an area so beautiful. It just didn't really match up. I thought it was great how people with so little were so fast to share what they had.
My trip to Chiapas was such an amazing time of growth for me. God really gave me a vision for missions, and solidified my desire to take my nursing degree to a foreign country (once I get it, that is).
I also heard the stories, and saw the results, of much persecution directed towards the Mexican Christians. Having been in the US all my life I always heard about people being persecuted, but had never actually seen it before. We really do have it ridiculously easy in the states. While staying in a small rural town in Tojolabal I came across this verse, stenciled in Spanish, just behind the pulpit: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" Hebrews 13:8. These people understand that God has delivered them in the past, and He will continue to be their protector, leader, and savior for eternity. This verse has taken on new meaning for me because I have really had a chance to see that God is the same God in America, in Mexico, and everywhere that there are believers worshiping Him.
There are more than a million ways to describe my experience in the breath taking land of Chiapas Mexico! It has been life changing for me! For many reasons I feel that it has changed my focus forever! I see things so much more differently now. I was able to see how the people in the villages actually lived on a day- to- day basis. It was like nothing I've ever seen before. The people basically have nothing. They live to survive. The contrast between the way Americans live and the way they live is surreal! It dawned on me that we have so much and yet are so discontent! Strangely I noticed that even though they had very little they seemed to have obtained more contentment than we! I observed them and noticed a greater sense of quietness about their demeanor. Their pace of life was so much more calming. In contrast to the busyness of Americans I came to the conclusion that faster isn't necessarily better! I am trying to apply the same principle to my own life! Through their example I've learned that we as Americans are missing something when we run at the pace of cheetahs throughout life! We miss out on all of the richness; such as having the ability to build genuine relationships with family, friends and people around us! How devastating it is to me now; to realize that we are trading in our God given gift of human relationships for an empty rushed lifestyle! This is a lesson that I don't ever want to forget! I used to use FB,Email,Cell phones, etc... to fulfill the duty of having to interact with people. These were the main tools I'd use to build the relationships around me. Now I've realize that they are actually hindering me from experiencing the true joys of what one -on- one human interaction can bring! Taking short cuts to connect with people will no longer be acceptable to me! No more substitutes for real life encounters if I can help it! I am now making alterations in my day- to- day plans to build these precious relationships on a deeper level, even if that means having to slow down the pace of my lifestyle!
Upon my arrival back to the USA I was hit with the gripping fact that we as a society not only are blessed materialistically, but also with an awesome amount of endless opportunities! We are able to graduate from high school and do anything we want with our lives! With vision and hard work we can always get better, be more and prosper. But the people in the villages have only the slightest chance of getting even an ounce of those opportunities! I ask myself almost everyday now,"Why do so many of us let all of these blessings just slip between our fingers?" The chilling fact is that the people there work as hard if not harder than we do just to survive. If we were to put even a half of our energies into school or bettering ourselves as they do to survive we could go so far! From learning and coming to grips with how blessed we are opportunity wise, I now refuse to just sit back and watch these blessings bestowed upon us go to waste! As long as it depends on me I want to always strive to better myself, whether that be taking advantage of our libraries, or going to college, etc! To whom much is given much is expected!
Last but not least this missions trip to Chiapas Mexico has impressed upon me how the Christians including myself have come to rest upon a complacent attitude here in America! Oh how sad it is to me now! In another county one quickly learns that sharing the gospel, living by example ect.. is a much harder task then can be accounted for! One has the challenge of getting past the language barriers, forming trust, being excepted, and will always be hindered in someway or form with each new encounter he or she undergoes with the people! My heart cries now; it brakes to think that we are settling into our comfort zones! The opportunities are so easy to grab hold of compared to the everyday challenges of sharing Christ to people in a different country. It's all laid out right here in front of us; just beyond the walls of our homes! Our battle field is hindered by little challenge compared to the challenges presented on the mission fields of a foreign country! If we were to put out half the energy missionaries put out we as the body of Christ could go so far! There are people all around us that speak our language, that we can already relate to in someway! Through this trip I have and am still learning to put myself out there and share; for I realize that it is little I have to lose!
So in other words this missions trip to Chiapas Mexico has not only given me a new prospective it has changed my life forever! I feel that everyone should take advantage of the opportunity sometime in their lifespan to go on a missions trip! For me I don't think I could have learned these things in the way that I did without having experienced them hands on! The outcome is surreal! And is something that you can not put a price on! It's life changing!!
One of the things I love about traveling to Mexico is the chance to break from my day-to-day routine and be pushed outside my "comfort zone", and through that to experience God in ways I hadn't yet known before. I think God delights in us finding Him at random times and in the most unexpected ways! His faithful companionship and love have been proven to me so many times, and then I get to turn around and pass that relationship on to others. I get to go be the hands and feet that meet someone's physical needs (like a water filter) and at the same time meet a spiritual need (encouragement, love, sharing the Gospel). I love how, though separated by language and culture, there's an invisible bond that unites both local believers and myself. I love seeing how global and diverse the Christian family is. I love the fellowship and camaraderie with my teammates and the Terrell's. Sure, we get dirty, sweaty, sick, tired. But is it worth it? Absolutely!