¿Problemas o Opportunidades?
Every time I go on a mission trip, it wrecks my life!! I’m sure you might suspect that I am talking about the conditions of extreme poverty, the cold showers, strange foods, and the lack of flushable toilets—oh and the flies, can’t forget those. They were everywhere and in extremely large numbers lol. I won’t give you the slightest impression that those things don’t take their toll. Seeing the people’s lack of basic necessities can become unbearable, overwhelming, and even discouraging. You begin to question whether you can even make a dent in such a huge problem. However, those things will not be the focus of this blog. I’d rather shed a different light on my mission experience. What wrecks my life every time I go, are the people; their kindness and faith in the midst of their suffering.
When I say, “it wrecks my life,” what I mean is that it alters my outlook on life and the way that I do life; helps me to re-focus my heart on the things that are more important. And this is why I love doing missions. This past week, my Pastor and I took a group of six of our high school youth on their first mission trip abroad to Baja, Mexico. We built a home for a family, led Vacation Bible School (VBS), and went door to door sharing the message of Christ and praying for people. We were blessed to meet and serve with many great Americans and Canadians. We also encountered many great natives, some of whom accepted Christ into their hearts (411 people to be exact) and received healing.
There are many SUPER amazing stories I could share, but I will only share one that I know for sure challenged me to greater faith (and I will try to keep it short). It was the last day of VBS and we went door to door in the community asking people if they had any children that might want to attend. After not finding many children and being chased away by a bunch of disease infested dogs, we decided to go down another road. There we saw a man burning garbage. Our goal was to share the gospel with him, but we began the conversation asking him if he knew of any kids in the area. Most people didn't speak english so every word we spoke was translated by a translator. After telling the man that we were missionaries, he began to tell us about a woman that lived in the corner house that could use our help. He took us to the house and there we met Jesus (hay-zeus). She kindly invited us (strangers) into her home and began to tell us about her situation. She was blind, had no family, and her home was falling apart! She had got stuck on her roof once and that’s how she met the man that had brought us to her house. We asked her if she knew the Lord and she said, yes. This woman began to tell us about her faith and trust in God. How He was her Savior and Provider. How other’s tell her she shouldn't believe in Him because she’s blind and doesn’t have much food, but how she knows that God loves her and she wouldn't stop trusting Him. She talked about a time she prayed for a particular food to eat and the next day, God had brought that exact meal to her. Her faith blew me away. The way she still loved God despite how terrible her life seemed spoke volumes to me. She had used her circumstances as an opportunity to trust God more. Before we left, we prayed a powerful prayer for her healing and provision. We also gathered her information for help with her home. I saw once again how we see the natives as the needy, but they unintentionally show us that we are also the needy. In most cases, they are suffering physical poverty, but we are suffering from poverty of heart. Her hope in lack, encouraged my hope in excess and even in lack.
There was a foreman at the construction site, named Hector. When we would run into a problem building the home, he would say, “¿Problemas o Opportunidades? (Problems or Opportunities)” I had heard it before somewhere or possibly read it in a book, but for some reason when he said it, it stuck with me. When I began to reflect on my mission experience, I realized that the mission field is filled with so many problems, I mean real problems and urgent needs, but if we adjust the lens a little bit, we will see that each problem presents an opportunity. An opportunity to solve a problem, to lend a hand, to serve, to love, to share, to reflect Christ. I think sometimes we look to God and say how come you don’t just do something about this, but in turn, I believe God gazes at us says, that’s why I have made you and I have given you my son (myself, my spirit) to help you do it. Now go! Make a change, impact a life. I’m sure if we all do our share, we can make a dent. Problemas o Opportunidades? I say Opportunities..