Flying to Guatemala and spending a week was the easy part. Coming home is the challenge. The times when I have felt closest to God were when I was able to get away from the chaos of my daily life on mission trips. Guatemala is a refuge away from the pressure and stress of the everyday. On this last trip, the cellphone didn't work and I had deactivated the distraction of Facebook. It was about being where God wanted me to be and doing his work.
Coming home is difficult. As soon as we landed at DFW airport and my cellphone turned on, the cloud of stress was immediately hovering. The reality of life was back and already I had an issue to handle immediately. The freedom of Guatemala was gone, the high of willful obedience crashing down with a few sentences in a text message.
Challenge #1: Maintain an obedient spirit while managing the demands of my life.
People ask how our trip went and I don't know how to respond. I feel myself holding back because I know how powerful the experience was and I hold that close to my heart. I'm not sure if they are asking to be polite or if they truly have a desire to hear about the beautiful country I love that struggles daily. Without having traveled, or feeling the call to travel, the details of missions can be cumbersome and the meaning can be lost for many people. I don't want to be a hindrance to them by not sharing and I can't expect everyone to feel as strongly as I do. Some people just are not called to go.
Recently a friend who has also gone on several mission trips gave me an idea. She suggested 3 versions of reply--30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 30 minutes. The length of response corresponds to the person's true heart and desire to know about my trip and the reality of life in a lesser developed country.
Challenge #2: Find a way to share God's love and my love for the Guatemalan people with everyone.
Visiting with families who are struggling makes me more aware of the excesses of my own life in America. I am intolerant of Americans who complain about material goods and life's inconveniences. Sorry, but it's the truth. Even though we have tried to teach our children about the reality that our friends face in different countries, we still fall into the materialistic trap of our culture. On a recent school morning I found myself once again relaying, in a not-so-patient manner, how fortunate my daughter was that she had a closet full of clothes and schools. She didn't have ANY shoes to wear that matched her outfit that day because of the "closed-toe" shoe rule for school.
Challenge #3: Be patient with those who have not witnessed extreme poverty and do not judge them. Instead, help them to see and be the difference.