I got the amazing and so completely UNDESERVED opportunity to go to Valparaiso, Chile on a week-long mission trip about three weeks ago. I have never had a huge desire to visit other countries (I always thought that my brother's wanderer's spirit was ginormous enough for both of us!) but I knew this would a rare opportunity.
And now, looking back on it and even more so when I was walking on the coast of Vina del Mar in the 40 degree weather and huffin' and puffin' up the hill we adopted with new friends...I can't wait to go back someday, Lord willin'.
Our nine-member team from FBC Hurst left on the ten-hour plane flight late Tuesday night and made it generally in one piece-I did get sick and definitely tossed my cookies about
eight hours into the trip...BUT all in all, that wasn't too bad-considering I've been on a plane probably less than six times in my life-none longer than three or four hours. As one girl pointed out, I had about "six mamas on the trip" with me...so needless to say, I got my dose of some good ol' First Hurst lovin'!
It was so amazing to be with my family again. I have been so blessed to have TWO church families currently...and I love Edge Park with all of my heart and hold those precious people so close to my heart, but I am so glad that I got to spend time with the people that have helped raise me and have taught me so much about the Lord over the years. I became a Christian at First Hurst, was blessed by the children's ministry and the youth ministry and have met so many people on the 10-15 mission trips I have been on with them! :) I am forever indebted to these great men and women of God.
Our team consisted of two men and seven women, and all were over the age of 44 (WHICH IS NOT OLD!!) except me...which was interesting after our second night of having ice cream for dinner... I never thought I would be on a trip full of adults and have dessert for dinner multiple times, but...as Laura would say...hey, what are you gonna do?! :)
My prayer for this trip was simply that God would reign. That I would not hinder what He is doing in this beautiful country. That He would speak through us, and that not a sound would escape our lips that was not from Him. He is so big...I wanted to help His power and His Spirit move and not be a hindrance to His work at all. Something awesome that happened was the awesome youth pastor I work for prayed over me at Edge Park twice before I left, and his prayer matched exactly what my heart was crying out for.
George, our translator and Kimberly's faithful summer intern, did the devotion
al booklet for the team and the main focus of the devotional was being on-purpose. Each day, we had a challenge about being ON-purpose for God. I personally loved that!!! So many of my friends are so frustrated and upset about the way their life is going, or so concerned because they don't feel a certain call in any direction in this point of our lives...and
all I have to say is...BLOOM WHERE THE LORD HAS PLANTED YOU, PEOPLE!!! As my best friend would say, "God will let you know on a need-to-know basis." Wherever He has planted you right now,whether you like it or not, whether you will be here for the rest of your life or if it's just a short season, be on purpose for Him. Be intentional in your words and actions and time spent.
But to stay on topic before I go on that rant...
A friend at Edge Park asked me what my favorite part of the trip was, and I think the thing that stood out to me the most was the morning we got to visit the boys' home. It has been on my heart since starting at DBU that I would absolutely LOVE to work in an orphanage someday. So when I found out we were getting to do that, I was so excited!!! At first, they said only a few people could go in, and that they wanted a man to go in since it was a boys home, a translator, and church members from Chile...so I hung back, knowing that my presence wasn't exactly needed...but then the boys all came out to the park across the street from the orphanage and my heart just melted! These boys are SO PRECIOUS!
The pastor's wife, Gabriela, did a GREAT job with telling the boys a story and singing songs in Spanish with them. They loved it and then Alex, the pastor, asked me to pray with one of the
boys, Samuel, who wanted to receive Christ!!! Seeds were planted in these precious boys' hearts.
To explain further...our church has a partnership with a church there, Jesus Esperan
za Viva, and they do home visitations on Cerro Placeres...one hill with 50,000 people on it..and that's one hill-out of 41 total hills in the city. We also have a partnership with a school there called Escuela Mixta de Paraguay.
As for the church members...they are rock-solid, faithful, giving, compassionate, blow-you-away AMAZING! They overcome so much to walk the steep hill every single week to share the gospelunashamed and to build relationships with these people who so desperately need a Savior! The pastor has a church-planting heart and they are praying for someone to start a church on the hill, because their church, Jesus Esperanza Viva, is a one-hour bus ride from the hill. Yet they faithfully come visit these people on this beautiful hill every single week to build relationships, to love on them as Christ loved all of us... What blows us away is that we throw every excuse possible to not share the gospel...and America is suffering for it, y'all...
The school is great. The school tries to emphasize moral lessons and after-school programs, so we brought supplies to paint sheets for a drama, brought biblical time clothing and some modern day props for the drama (a reenacting of the Good Samaritan), and puppets. Most of our team were busy at work and I couldn't find anything to make myself useful doing, so I hung around and got to know some of the kids... :)
The people of Chile are so precious. They are sweet-hearted and wonderful. Their hearts are full of love and compassion and are so giving. On Sunday night (when I was missing my youth group kids something FIERCE!!!!..and everybody from Hurst thought I was crazy for missing my teenagers...they obviously just have not met Fusion Student Ministries!) during a church service that we are convinced was a glimpse of what Heaven will be like, they announced each of us from First Hurst by name and called us up and gave us a piece of chocolate! It was insane. I felt like we were on vacation instead of mission trip! I'm pretty sure they blessed us WAY more than we blessed them.
I feel like there is still so much more to share, and hopefully I can share with all of you at some point. I beg you, brothers and sisters, to pray for these people, the kids, the church members, the people on Cerro Placeres...
All in all, I am so excited that we are starting a partnership with these beautiful people. I doubt they will ever know the impact they have had on us. I am praying for a chance to go again...it changed my life, and I am forever blessed by the ministry of Jesus Esperanza Viva and the work that the Lord is doing there.