When people return home from a missions trip, they are often asked, “How was your trip?!” Generally speaking, people want to hear, “It was great,” and then be relinquished to go about their business. It’s no one’s fault, really, but for those returning from a trip, whose lives have been forever impacted, it can be disheartening to so flippantly respond about our time away. I have been pondering how to briefly, but honestly relay to others about our time in Belize. The phrase that comes to mind:
It was hard to come home.
It was hard to come home. And probably not for the reasons you think. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it was HOT after being in frigid Wisconsin all winter. Yes, it was a break from my regular responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and homeschooling. But that’s not why it was hard to come home. I have developed a love for the missionaries we partner with. They are people that I want to be like- in them I observed people who purposefully encounter strangers, ready to share the Gospel or intentionally seeking to encourage a brother or sister in Christ. Man, I want to be like that! I want to be so Kingdom-minded that I seize every opportunity to share the love of Christ with others, rather than hoping a stranger won’t strike up an awkward conversation with me in the local coffee shop.
It was hard to come home because it was the first time that I returned to the same place of ministry, able to reconnect with people I had met before. How SWEET it was to see familiar faces and receive a smile, or even a hug, of recognition! How wonderful to be warmly welcomed by missionaries and pastors, knowing that we are partnering together to lead people to Christ and to strengthen the Church through teaching and equipping.
It was amazing to meet up with Zelda, a young woman I had worked with at Machaca Summer Camp in 2000. How sweet it is to see her steadfastly serving the Lord 15 years later! It was wonderful to once again see little girls we played with last October. Where six months ago there were shy smiles and play time, now there were warm hugs, selfies, singing, showing us their homes, learning about their lives and growing in relationship.
It was hard to come home because life is relatively simple in Belize- or atleast it appeared that way to me. Part of the simplicity is due to poverty- if you don’t have money to spend on stuff, you don’t have stuff to complicate your life. Joe and I came away with a strong desire to simplify our lives- from diminishing our excessive wardrobes, to purging the ridiculous amount of toys our kids own, to limiting the media that our family has access to. All of our “stuff” gets in the way of our family’s relationship with Christ- time spent managing our excess is time spent distracted from our Lord.
I come away from our time in Belize with new perspective regarding what it important, what is of eternal value, and what some of the distractions are that I need to eliminate from my life. I have a renewed sense of mission- God has called me to be a missionary at all times, wherever I may be. I am to love my neighbor (everyone) and seize every opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those I encounter. That means I have to be prepared to share the Gospel! Nothing is more important than fulfilling that mission- whether it is training up my children to know the Lord, discipling the women in my small group, or traveling around the world on a short term missions trip. My desire is to be useful to the Lord by Doing Life Deliberately!!
In His Love,