As some of you know, I am leaving on a trip to go to El Salvador this week on a mission trip with my church. I have been in the process this past 6 weeks, and especially this past weekend, of preparing my heart to go.
This is not my first mission trip. I went to Mexico in 2008:
This is me being goofy and tourist-y on our one "tourist day". :)
Back then I had no idea why I was going on that trip. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere to hopefully do some good, and God didn't stop me. When I look back now, I know exactly why I went. At that time in my life I needed some mature Christian role models to observe, and I certainly got my fair share. I also was getting close to entering into motherhood, and there was at least one mother on that trip who is absolutely amazing, and one specifically who I learned more from than I even knew at the time. Those are the personal facts about my trip - they are usually what I share with others, and they are what I recognized first. But none of that compares to what I recognized recently, three years later.
Going somewhere else, going completely out of your comfort zone, trying to communicate in another culture . . . all of that changes you no matter who you are or what you are doing. What I am remembering this weekend is a child who I came into contact with in a house that we served at one evening while I was down in Mexico. I would describe him as extremely poor. Something that I have discovered in preparing for this trip is that I cannot feel like I am doing enough for children like him. There is more work than one person can do. But the reason that I am the way I am, the reason that I am preparing myself like I am, is because to me poverty has a face - and that face is back in my life full force this weekend in the form of a photo of that poor child that I took while in Mexico on my last trip. This weekend I have been remembering the smell of his house, the dirt on his feet, the simple kitchen in his home. It's all so personal to me because I look at that photo, and I am reminded very easily of my own daughter Nora. He was about Nora's current age back then, and has a pacifier in his mouth and an expression that you would see on the face of any toddler - one that constantly flashes with wild independence, while still looking over his shoulder to make sure you are there watching and protecting.
I have been worried since I signed up to go on this current trip about "how Nora will do". I tell myself she will do just fine, and most of the time I believe it. Thinking of that child from Mexico is putting things into perspective a bit more. Nora really will be fine. She will have her basic needs met, she will be clean, and in good health (God-willing). I will likely miss her way more than she misses me, and her biggest worry will not be where her next meal will come from. She will look through her many books, and eat some yummy food on Superbowl Sunday. She will be OK.
Of course, even knowing that, it will still be hard to leave her. Hey, I am her mommy. :)
I have been packing for this trip almost like I am going to meet that Mexican child again, even though I am going to a completely different country. However, I am fairly certain that I will meet other children just like him. And giving them as much as I can won't be enough, but . . . it will be something. At least it will be that.
I am not really sure what exactly God has in mind for me this time, and I am not sure I will even know for sure when I get back in a little over a week. I will see many things that will forever remind me, just like that Mexican child is reminding me today, that there are always children out there who need to be "blessed by those who have been blessed".
Anyway, if you are the praying type and you could be in prayer for those of us who are going this week, that would be great. I will update again in about 10 days . . . unless I can get Cory to make a "guest post". :)
Until next time . . .