Last week, I traveled to Guatemala along with 12 other individuals from my church to build a well and spread the love of Christ. I headed there excited for my first trip beyond your states and glad to serve others in some capacity.
People often say that mission trips (real ones, not vacations in Jesus’ name) will change your perspective on many things, but my expectations weren’t that great. I love you—the opportunities (before I graduated and many of them dried up), the luxuries, the diversity, the comfort, the celebrities, etc. I acknowledge your flaws, but I’m quick to come to your defense when my friends (who’ve visited other nations or studied them) downplay your greatness. Getting to help those in need was all I figured I’d walk away with, and that would be sufficient.
But to my surprise, as we were preparing to return last week, I must admit that I didn’t want to come back to you. I even woke up the next morning at home in my bed to find my eyelids brimming with tears.
I had no immediate sense of a mission. Yet, I had all the luxuries at my disposal again.
America…never thought I’d wish I were somewhere else.
The moment we stepped back onto your terrain upon arriving at the airport and began tweeting, facebooking and texting, a part of me was grieved. You make us think we need those things. But, that’s not all. You make us think we need the coolest clothes, nicest kicks, latest technology and whatever else you want us to become slaves to.
But I couldn’t care less about any of those as we were covered in mud or drenched in sweat in a small village in Champerico, Guatemala. Giving clean water to the beautiful, yet burdened and barefoot children or sharing the Gospel with the smiling and hopeful women was of the utmost importance. Beyonce could have rolled up in that village in Gucci and no one would have cared unless she was going to kick a soccer ball around with the kids or put on a hard hat and get to work.
Living and loving like Christ was all that mattered out there. We were a house full of believers on mission together, praying, reading, discussing, sharing, laughing and worshipping…ahh Heavenly. Didn’t feel like a bubble either, because we dispersed once we got to the village. But the van, the hotel, the house…they were our reload points. Missional community at its finest.
But, when I’m here, I want all you have to offer. Yet, when I was there, I wanted to give Guatemala all I had. I wanted to give myself away. I could do that for the rest of my life. No question.
America, you no longer impress me.
I actually started hating you.
I don’t like who I am in you.
Ahh, but then I started thinking, and a friend who’d accompanied me made me realize that you aren’t the enemy.
Living Water International would not exist without you.
The guy who led the drilling project would not know Jesus without you.
His cousins and siblings would not have the jobs they have without you.
More than 200 wells along the coast and the Highlands of that precious country would not have been developed without you.
And, truth be told, we would not know the magnitude of God as He’d graced us to know it in Guatemala, without you…
Of course, when they said “America,” they meant what God has graced you to be—how He’s used you to fulfill his plans and purposes.
I quickly sobered up. I realized that even Guatemala has its vanity landmines beyond the humbleness of Victorias Tres where our worlds were rocked. I could live in Antigua, clothed and footed, with Internet access to make me forget all I really need.
So, what shall I do now that I’m back?
That’s simple—stated of course.
Be on mission here.
Neglect the things you offer or elevate that I don’t want to take in or idolize.
Just because I’m here, doesn’t mean I have to succumb to all that’s around me. It’s harder within, but it’s possible.
I can be in this country, but not of it.
Don’t take that personal, because I feel the same way about any other place on Earth.
It’s not my home.
It is all temporary.
With hopes to redeem you for the glory of God,