So, let's just dive right in shall we?
Was I prepared for this trip?
Not really. In spite of the preparation we did in meetings and the suggested readings (I completed none of that because I am terrible with assigned reading- I did read some though) and the time I spent reading the Bible, I wasn't prepared for what I would encounter. I had an idea- even images to associate with that idea-of what the conditions there would look like. What I would be doing when I got there. My level of usefulness. The level of poverty, the amount of need. All of my presuppositions were incorrect.
And you know what? That was okay.
At first I was a little disappointed that we weren't working as hard or as much as I had expected to. I didn't feel useful at first. And honestly, at first we weren't all that useful. We got there a day earlier than they were prepared for us to (projects-wise) and so the first day we pretty much just got a tour of the Hope of Life campus and the closest village and then we were left to our own devices. And they had a pool. A nice one. That we spent more time in than we probably should have. So at first it felt a little vacation-y to me, and I felt guilt. But it was not a vacation, and it was a formative event in my life that I hope influences all my future ministry and financial choices.
Many of you know that I was skeptical about the idea of participating in a short term mission trip. I've technically been on two before, one for Katrina clean up in Mississippi, and the other for an international choir tour in Europe. The former was so brief I hardly count it, and the latter involved a lot more fun than ministry (for me personally). I also have adopted some of my views on missions from Bryan friends who have grown up in the mission field. But I know that I was called to this mission. There are very few instances in my life that I can point to and say that I had any sort of clarity about my choices. However, in this instance, I was certain.
Something else I wasn't prepared for was the beauty of it. It was truly awe inspiring.
|This was the view from the Orphanage. HoL you're doing it right.|
How did it go?
Well. Was it perfect? No. Nothing is perfect in this world. But I was blessed by the experience and I'm glad I got to go. We were expecting to do a lot of hard labor, and while we had some of that, it wasn't as all encompassing as the majority of us had planned for. We did a lot of interpersonal work with children, orphans, and seniors.
|We moved a lot of logs though. A lot.|
There are so many stories from this trip, I don't even know where to begin. But I'll start with this girl, who I met on the first day we arrived.
I can't even tell you her name (I don't remember if the hospital workers knew her name), but I can tell you the piece of her story I know and shared in. She is a recent rescue from one of the secluded mountain villages in the surrounding area. Hope of Life runs rescue operations to retrieve starving children and elderly on a regular basis. She was brought in a few days before we got there. She weighs between 15 and 20 lbs. She is 15 years old. That little girl somehow survived being severely malnourished for 15 years. She has very little brain function and has to be fed through a feeding tube. She was crying when we visited. So another member of the team stroked her hair and I sang and played my uke because that's all we could do. That is literally all we could do. We couldn't even hold her without causing her more pain.
I can honestly say one of things I struggled with most on this trip was not why this is allowed to happen. I understand that sin has completely ravaged this world and pain and death are a part of it. What I struggled to understand was why her. And what good could possibly come from allowing a little girl to starve into her adolescence to the point of entering a vegetative state. Many of the children they rescue recover and lead healthy lives. This little girl has no chance of that. WHY?
We read through several Psalms during the trip, and one of them was Psalm 73. It basically asks God why the wicked prosper and the good and righteous are left to ruin. Basically why do bad things happen to good people and bad people flourish? The basic conclusion we came to, and the only logical one you can come to I'd argue, is that it is not for us to understand why. We are finite beings who serve an infinite and omniscient God. There is room for heartache, pain, and even a lack of understanding, but we must have faith in God's holy plans. Because that's all we can do.
We were protected from major catastrophe and blessed in a lot of unexpected ways as a group. Individually I can only account for myself. I was changed and truly humbled. And I am truly thankful in ways I never knew I would be. Because through it all God is good.
Pray for that girl. Pray for so many more just like her. And remember that one day He will make all things new.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26
There will be more soon, there were so many stories to share, one blog post couldn't possibly do them justice.
Here's my short vlog about it as well: