I felt like an alien in my own home, teetering on the verge of tears. Just days before, I was melting in the hot Guatemalan sun, mosquitoes attacking my shins. I could not have been happier. How I longed for that now as I felt the busyness of the world pressing hard upon me.
My present yearning was set in motion about five years earlier, while sitting beside my mother in church. A video about an upcoming mission trip to Ecuador played on the screen. Suddenly, she gripped my arm. “I think Phil and PJ need to go on this trip,” she whispered. “Please tell them that if they want to go, they do not need to worry about it. I just feel like God wants me to help make this happen.” Still smarting from her grip, I wondered if she had lost her mind. My husband and son had never expressed any desire to go on any sort of excursion like this, and they certainly were not interested in a foreign land where English was not the native language. I was certain the invitation would draw nothing but scoffing and rejection. I waited at least a week before finding the seemingly most opportune moment to speak to my husband about it. I said a little prayer, “God, I know this sounds crazy, but let your will be done,” and I posed the question. Much to my astonishment, he said yes!
I could fill many more pages with a multitude of inspirational stories and miraculous tales that occurred as a result of this pinnacle moment. The glow of my husband and son when they returned from Ecuador inspired the rest of our clan, and others, to take the missions plunge. In the years since, our family has traveled as far as Nigeria and as near as West Virginia. We have become a mission-minded family and find it to be the perfect way to put into action: knowing God and making Him known.
However, what I want most to impress upon hearts is the overwhelming peace, joy, and fulfillment that come when we say, “Yes!” to God and offer ourselves in His service. The experience of being in a foreign environment, devoid of technology and modern conveniences, allows one to gain new heights of perspective. For the busy ones, like me, it is possibly the only way to truly ‘unplug’ and feel the presence of God in a very real and intimate way. However, there is so much more.
During my time in Guatemala, I witnessed extreme poverty and suffering. I had the opportunity to serve meals to families living in a landfill among the filth and decay. I bathed and fed severely disabled children who were abandoned by families unable to care for them. I held the hand of an elderly man and intently listened to his life story… in Spanish. We met children, rescued from remote mountain villages, who are now healthy and thriving, attending school, and helping save others like them. I struggle to find the words to describe the peace and calm I felt in the midst of abject poverty and need. My thoughts were squarely focused outward, to the needs of others. And I found peace.
Serving others does not always mean you must go out into the remote jungles of the world. It could be that your mission is like my mother’s, to help others to go out. The mission field begins at home.
Because of her obedience to the nudge of the Holy Spirit, my mother set in motion a legacy that will be carried far beyond anything we could humanly imagine. How will you respond?