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Messy Plans

Well, here I am, nearly one month after I left home. This trip may be coming to an end, but I can definitively say that I believe my trip is just beginning. I’d never been on a mission trip before coming here. While some people were really excited for me, others thought that I was crazy to leave on a one-month journey with people I had never met in my entire life. Still, as great of a place as I was in, I knew that God was sending me here to truly experience his greatness.

Every time people told stories about the mission trips they’d been on, they would explain how we don’t realize how much we have until we experience something like that. I wanted to truly know that kind of humbleness. I began longing to immerse myself into a culture where I would be challenged in my flesh and get a spiritual awakening in return. Maybe if I give up internet for a month, hand wash my clothes, and connect with the people there to show them and remind myself that I am just like them, I would know I can give up anything for Christ. I was so ready to see life from a new perspective. That was exactly what happened, but not in the way that I had allowed myself to believe based on other missionaries’ stories.

It was our first day in the community Jose Olaya. I was extremely exhausted, but I was planning on going door-to-door with some of my teammates. I’d played with the kids in the previous community, but I wanted to be able to talk to people about God and see one of those miracles happen that you hear about but don’t often experience. On the way there, I was wrestling with what God had been trying to tell me the past couple of days, and I had just started realizing what it was as I talked about it with someone. I’d always had a hard time trusting people with doing things that would change outcomes in my life. I knew exactly what I would be doing in the next few years of my life, and I wouldn’t allow anyone to change any of those plans. In those moments, I noticed that I’d said that I was laying my whole life down for God many times, but I only ever gave him the things that I was comfortable in giving up. To really give him my life and trust him to mess up my plans was a very big “no” from me. I didn’t know how I could ever just hand over my entire life to someone like that. It seemed absolutely ridiculous and impossible, but my mindset changed a bit as soon as we landed.

After reaching the community, there were a few little girls standing at the edge of our boat just waiting for us to come out. With my very limited Spanish vocabulary, I attempted to converse with them. They started trying to teach us how to play one of their favorite games. Eventually, we began walking somewhere, and a little girl named Dayana (same as my name might I add) came and held my hand. As I was running up that hill with this little girl holding onto me, I knew that I would not be doing anything that I planned that day. In that moment, my heart became so full and I nearly began to tear up. As much as I tried to say that I would leave to go talk to people door-to-door, something kept me playing with all these kids. They were so excited to learn English, sing songs, play, or do absolutely anything your heart could think of. There was an unexplainable amount of joy that came with being there despite all the exhaustion that I was experiencing from running around nonstop.

When we left, I just wanted to scream out from the rooftops how amazing God was. He completely took my plans that day, messed them up, and made something better. On our final day there, I walked around from house to house inviting some of the people in the community to our church service we’d be having, and that was when it first hit me what their homes were like. Most of them had a risen floor, a roof, and blankets or sheets hanging as walls. Still, not one part of me felt as though they were missing something or that I had more than them. I realized that the little things, such as washing my clothes in the river, did not change any aspect of my life.

Unknowingly, I’d come there to see what they don’t have thinking that I could bring them something more. In reality, I came there to find that thing that they had but I was missing. The extra luxuries in my life had just been a plus, but it did not bother me even once that I didn’t have them throughout this trip. A void I thought I’d have was filled with something better. Although I could not communicate with them, they really showed that actions do speak louder than words. They shared the joy and love with me that I didn’t realize I was lacking most of my life. I thought that I had everything, but they showed me that before I came there, I had nothing. The little destroyed homes, remote areas, or old clothes didn’t matter at all. So, I left the 99 at home to come and find the one on this trip. I’d had a lot of things in mind for this month, but I didn’t expect that the one God brought me here to find was actually me.

As I go back home, I can only imagine how hard it will be to not fall back into the mindset that I was in before. Because I only feel as though I barely touched the water in the work that God is doing in me here, not one part of me feels as though it’s ready to go home. Although I found out a lot about myself, the process of finding who I am in Christ is going to be a lot longer than this one month. Soon my journey begins at home where I will be battling the temptation to fall into my old ways again, but I gain more trust in God to mess up my life each day. When I think I know everything, I’ll remember that God knows more. When I think I have plans, I’ll remember that God has better ones. When I think that I am nothing, God will use me for something. Since this month has to end despite my not wanting it to, I can’t imagine a better bang to leave with than knowing that God’s got it figured out for me.

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