Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on the journeys we have had throughout the year and making commitments to take the next steps in our faith journeys. The following Nicaragua Mission Trip reflection from member Glenn Simpson provides a way to reflect on our own journeys and contemplate our next steps.
This trip began our second decade of missions to Nicaragua. During the first decade, the adult and family trip has encompassed approximately 300 missioners for 2000 nights, building 12 houses, a kitchen, constructing part of a school, medical clinic, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and educating children.
When you return home, there’s a high probability that you’ll be asked “why not just send a check for $1,400?” A logical question unless you’ve ever been on a mission trip. The Financial Peace University course taught at our church suggests everyone use cash because you don’t “feel” spending when using credit cards. Well, how much would you be missing of a mission trip if you sent a check and not attend? Sending a check no more makes you a missionary than sending a check to the YMCA makes you fit.
My devotion handbook asks a number of questions. After our experiences in Leon, I have more.
What memories will we take home?
Did we hear God speaking?
Did we see Jesus in the actions of people around us?
Did we take the time to listen?
Did we look for and see His fingerprints
How will we remember the foot washing experience?
Will it encourage us to serve others even the lowly?
How did the call to expand our circles resonate with us?
Do we believe that to see Him alone is to not see Him at all?
Will we expand our circle to include the homeless?
The mentally ill or physically disabled?
Gays and Lesbians?
Do we accept that our lives of abundance are fortuitous and not God’s doing?
More importantly, do we understand that our abundance can deter us from God’s call?
If God’s plan is for all to have an abundance of love, mercy, and grace, are we willing to do something to help that happen?
Can we ignore the small differences in people that are magnified irrationally?
Will we look for opportunities to do things “the other way” and be less quarrelsome – even if that means loving those with whom we disagree strongly?
Can we accept that our position may not be consistent with God’s plan and that we might be – WRONG?
Can we accept Pastor Wilbur’s call that all people are children of God or will we continue to focus on the little differences between God’s people?
Did being up close and personal with the people of Nicaragua ignite any flame of acceptance and love of those who are less fortunate?
How will our experiences here affect our lives?
Will we look for other opportunities to serve those in need and thank them for filling a void in our life?
Did we feel the Holy Spirit nudging us to find our reason for being?
Did we reach any conclusions about God’s call?
If we’re entering a new phase in our life, will we turn it over to the Lord?
Did the devotion questions sharpen our focus on an understanding of our life and God’s dominion over it?
Did the daily texts offer meaningful spiritual stimulation to the point that we’ll take meaningful action?
Will we get caught up in our busyness that prevents us from seeing the burning bush God as placed in front of us?
Do we ignore God’s call in favor of our ‘have tos’ or ‘want tos’?
What will leave a mark on our heart?
A child we met?
A team activity?
The tropical beauty?
A nudge by God through someone or something around us?
Will the people of Marananol impact us beyond our return home?
Was their interaction with us an act or did they really care for us?
Will they remember us next week?
Will we remember them?
Did seeing Ebelyn receive the keys to her new house have even the slightest impact on us?
Did the dance in Marananol touch us in any way?
Do we believe they were happy to know us?
Did they act like God is loves them in the same way He does us?
Were our face emotionless during all of their hospitality to us?
Do we struggle due to conflicts between our faith and society?
Will we trust God enough to allow Him to use our struggles to shape us in His own image?
Can we accept that He is always with us – during our struggles, pain, indecisions, as well as joys?
Do we fight to be in control of our life rather than giving it to God?
Can we find our reason for being to the extent that Seth demonstrated how he has found his?
Are our lives all about us?
Do our egos get in our own way?
Did the children at the HCN impact us?
Will their lives serve as a catalyst for us in any way?
Do we look at our own affluent lives as normal or do we acknowledge that most of the world lives like the people we met here?
Do we recognize the responsibilities that our affluence brings?
Do we clearly see the common humanity that we share with others and know that it is not affluence but rather an interconnected web comprised of all of God’s children?
When we return will we ever have a cold shower to remind us of the people who love us in Nicaragua?
How will we remember them?
And when God asks us to dance, will we say yes?
As part of the body of Christ, I will widen my circle.
As part of the body of Christ, I will help others who are less fortunate than I.
As part of the body of Christ, I will trust in the Lord fully.
As part of the body of Christ, I will seek God’s fingerprints.
As part of the body of Christ, I will seek new ways to serve.
As part of the body of Christ, I will graciously love those with whom I disagree.
As part of the body of Christ, I will let go and let God.
As part of the body of Christ, I will try to remove the log from my eye and see the good in others.
As part of the body of Christ, I will place God in the center of my life.
As part of the body of Christ, I will try my best to be like Jesus.
As part of the body of Christ, I will comfort those in need.
As part of the body of Christ, I will love my neighbor.
As part of the body of Christ, I will say yes to God’s invitation.