Thursday, July 22, 2010
I took my third missions trip and headed to the country of Ecuador. This may sound like a trivial task but in reality, it was a huge monumental accomplishment in my life. Fear tends to hold me back from even the shortest of road trips within the United States, so to travel outside of the country is nothing short of miraculous. Each time I go, I step through the fear that nearly paralyzes me, and hold onto the faith that I know that God is directing every step that I take.
Once on the ground in Ecuador, we were immediately confronted with the poverty and hopelessness that is so prevalent outside of the United States. As we were loading our baggage onto the bus, a little girl not more than 6 or 7 years old, stepped right into the middle of our group. As we continued our task of luggage placement and chatting with our assigned missionary couple, the little girl continued to move among us softly mumbling something in her native language. Without acknowledging her, I quickly surveyed the perimeter, looking for any sign of adult supervision for this child. I found none. Soon after boarding the bus, someone from our group bravely posed the question to our missionary guides, "Who was that little girl?" The answer was as hard to swallow as the experience itself. In a city of two million people, children are forced to beg for a myriad of different reasons, none of which I want to accept or even contemplate. We were left to wonder what situation this particular girl was living in, but the fact that she could be homeless and left on her own with no family, was absolutely astounding to me.
After that first eye-opening experience, my heart continued to take in the sights and sounds of a country thousands of miles away from mine. Words can not adequately express what I saw or experienced during my week in Ecuador. It has a natural beauty that only God could have created, but it also exudes a heavy hopelessness that was expressed in the many faces that were flashed before me.
What did we do while we were there? We helped to build a church. We worked with rebar, wood and cement. We met fellow believers in Christ, who not only worked along side us, but also expressed love and appreciation to those of us who traveled a long way to lend a helping hand. We experienced a culture so profoundly different than ours, and yet in the process, our hearts and lives were changed forever.
What did I learn on this trip? I learned that we are a blessed people. I learned to stop taking things like food, cars and air-conditioning for granted. I learned to love and appreciate the family and friends that are in my life, because you never know when they could be taken away from you. The greatest thing I learned is that by walking through the greatest fear in your life, you can experience the greatest joy in your life!