>A little over a week ago I was asked to share my testimony at a missions dessert we had at Lakeside Church. I have never done a lot of public speaking so I was terrified, to put it mildly. I did have friends and family there to support me and it’s not like I was the only or even the first speaker that night. I prepared a few notes beforehand but when I got up in front I spoke “off the cuff.” I didn’t say everything I’d planned but said a lot of stuff I didn’t. Isn’t that how it always works? I have had a lot of positive feedback about that evening. Later, I expanded on my notes and posted that to my Facebook notes.
I’m sitting here at my computer looking at a snapshot taken on my very first missions trip. My daughter Megan and I had, on a whim, answered an item in Lakeside’s bulletin about a house building trip to Mexico. We didn’t have the money to pay for the trip but the couple heading it up gave us a scholarship. The two of us showed up at Lakeside Church that Thursday morning, excited, scared and very unsure of what we were getting ourselves into. Diane had made arrangements for us to ride down in the church van so we loaded our luggage on a truck and schlepped our lunchboxes and other items over to the van. Meg and I found ourselves sitting in a seat behind a young woman named Kim. This was not Kim’s first trip to Mexico and she shared some stories with us on the way down. I’m not really quite sure who else was with us in the van that trip, we mostly talked with Kim and slept a lot.
The Mexico trips are hard for me to describe. Even though we have a regular “schedule” and “routine” no two trips are ever alike. We go out on build teams on Friday and Saturday mornings and Mike and Diane do a good job of changing teams around so that we meet new people. My photograph sitting here in front of me was the group shot at the end of our first build. In addition to Meg and me in this photo are Jean Hughes, Mike and Jack Fallon, Steve and Sharrise Baltikauskas, Jim, Jessie and Matt Parker, a guy I believe is Michael Callahan and an older man and a young man I cannot identify. There is also the woman we built a home for, her four children and five kids from the neighborhood. No matter how busy or frantic my day, all I have to do is look at this picture and I am filled with peace. Weird, I know.
The Mexico experience is a good first missions experience for most people. It takes you away from home, out of your comfort zone. It reinforces the team experience and it puts you “in the trenches” with the people you are ministering to. It also gives you the opportunity to sample a language and culture not your own but not totally unfamiliar, especially if you live in California. One of the original appeals this trip had for me was that it was only 4 days long, not so long that I couldn’t stand it if I found Mexico was not to my liking. Who was I kidding? I love Mexico! I love the people, I love the food, I love the attitudes! Throw all you preconceived notions out the window. Come serve the people here. You will find that no matter how hard you try, it is impossible not to be served in return. God will minister to your heart. You will be changed from the inside out.
Ever since that first trip I have always made sure that there was money in my budget for Mexico. Lakeside usually has a trip about every six months. My plans are to go every time unless I am on a longer term missions trip. I will find out what God’s plans are for me as I walk down the path of my life. I do know that I feel a definite tug to go farther and for a longer term. I just don’t have a direction, yet.