I'm currently on the last day of my first mission trip ever and I'm feeling both exhausted and sad about the trip ending. Coming into this trip, I expected to do the work then come back to my West County lifestyle wearing an "I went on a mission trip, please praise me" t-shirt. Yes, I've heard and read testimonials about life-altering trips, but it all seemed very Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love to me.
I didn't feel God using me as His hands and feet until our first day of VBS here. Through the prepping and planning of the first few days I was homesick and felt like I wasn't making a difference. However, on Tuesday I had the opportunity to ride in the van to pick up children to take to church. While driving through the reservation and seeing the damaged and poverty-stricken homes, I started to think about my own childhood. I grew up incredibly blessed and I don't know why God gave me this life, but didn't give that to these kids. We picked up our first girl and she ran straight out of her home and jumped into the van with the biggest smile on her face. That's when I started to realize that God didn't put them in this situation because of luck, He did it because He knew they are strong enough to still excitedly run into church despite their circumstances.
Through the two days of VBS, I started to create relationships with the kids that I'll continue to pursue. It's hard to remember that even though it's heartbreaking to dance with a 5 year old at VBS when you know that when they leave that church they're returning to abuse and injustice, God has a plan.
Sitting here on our last day of the mission, that is something I have to continually remind myself; God has a plan for these kids even though I don't know it, our mission team doesn't know it, and the kids don't know it, it's there. I hope I have made even the slightest impact on a child and let them see that there is good in the world and that good comes from God. If that message didn't stick with them, then I hope that they had at least two days out of a year that weren't filled with fear, but were overflowing with God's love.
So my expectations were much different from the reality. These are the times when I look at myself and tell myself to not be so pessimistic. If not for that pessimism, though, I wouldn't have had such an incredible revelation.
I thank God for this extraordinary trip, for the remarkable kids that spent VBS with us, and for the gift of cynicism that allowed me to connect with Wind River in only a way He can provide.