What Missions Taught Me About Perspective
This summer I had the privilege to lead a mission trip with 22 high school students to Guatemala. It was life changing for many of the students, and I grew as a leader more than I could have possibly expected. Our days were full of adventure and community as we did life together in this colorful Central American country.
One morning, I woke up to the beautiful mountains surrounding the city, the sun streaming through my window, and the cool breeze drifting though my hair. But I woke up with a bad attitude.
I was tired and grumpy and wanted some alone time, which is impossible to get when you are living in a house with 23 other people. I knew I really had no reason to be upset, but everything seemed to irritate me.
We left to start our ministry for the day. The students headed to paint a house for a local family. Chris, one of my co-leaders, and I hopped off the bus in the middle of the city to go on a hunt for crutches for one of our participants who had hurt her knee.
We walked and walked and walked and could not find the hospital. We kept asking for directions and people kept telling us it was by the church--at least that is what we thought they were saying. After walking in circles for what seemed like hours, we were lost, hot from the beating sun, and beyond cranky. Being lost and unable to communicate is about the worst feeling in the world. We eventually discovered that the hospital was inside the church. Did not see that one coming.
After a few more difficult Spanish conversations, we were able to get a pair of crutches and (with a quick coffee break) head back to meet the team.
We arrived at the little house to find the team furiously painting away. Each room was a different color, and there might have been just as much paint on the students as there was on the house.
When the family’s furniture and belongings arrived, I was dumbfounded by how little a widow with nine children had. As we helped this family with such meager belongings move into their new house, I realized that I have no right to complain.
Everyone has bad days but ,in reality, so many of the things I complain about day-to-day matter so little in comparison with what I have to be thankful for. Yes, I had a rough morning - I got lost and walked around Antigua frustrated for over an hour - but how small is that in comparison to the cares and troubles of others?
This is why I love missions. We were able to help a widow with nine children move into a larger, freshly painted home. I know that was a huge blessing to her. But the real reason I love missions is because of how it changes me.
Every time I leave the United States, I am faced with cultures and traditions that are so very different from mine. As such, there are many opportunities to get frustrated at a language barrier, a crazy form of transportation, or a contact who is an hour late picking us up.
Through all of these possible frustrations I learn more about myself. Am I going to get angry or smile and enjoy every moment? Although I encounter opportunities to grow when I am overseas, these moments face me at home too. How many times have I been stuck in traffic or in line at the drive thru and complained about how long it is taking? How many times have I made a snap decision about someone based on how they treat me instead of giving them grace?
Sometimes, when we lift our eyes off our current situation we see not only those around us who are suffering, but we also see the grace our Father has given us to walk through every situation. What an amazing perspective!