In 1988 I took my 1st short term missions’ trip. I went to all the preliminary classes, learning, what I would be doing, where I would be going and what God says about missions.
I would be traveling to Monterrey Mexico, with a group of 8, we would be staying with The Institute of Missionary Evangelism (TIME Missions) and we would be building a chapel, for a local pastor.
I brushed up on my “basic Spanish” learning, dónde está el baño (where is the bathroom), hola (hello), and te invitamos a la iglesia esta noche a las 8 para el servicio (we invite you to church tonight at 8 for service). I was so excited!
The trip was amazing, we stayed at a local church, going out everyday and doing work on the chapel that we were helping to build for a local pastor. We are not talking easy work folks! I learned how to mix cement, how to plaster walls. I learned how to use tools that before I had no idea existed. I was always sweaty, sometimes there was blood, or scratches or bruises. I could not for the life of me figure out how I got them. I never lost a limb though, so there’s that. We would then come back for lunch and rest. My favorite afternoons were spent riding the buses into downtown, seeing this amazing city. It was HUGE, so fast, so colorful. I understood very little, but I wanted to see it all. We would go into the market, and look at all the amazing hand-crafted goods, wanting of course to take it all home with me, because no one would believe everything that I was experiencing. Only once did I get on a wrong bus, I ended up having to transfer like four times, until I made it back to our compound. Shockingly I do not remember being fearful or feeling anxious, hmmm… I hadn’t thought about that ever, anyways…
In the evening we would head out again for services, held throughout the neighborhoods. Our group would sing for the local congregation, or do a skit, sometimes we would give our testimonies. We would just worship with our new friends. Singing songs in Spanish, only sometimes understanding what we were singing, but with our hands up, not really caring, only knowing that God was there, with all of us.
At the end of the week, we would say goodbye, we would pray for each other, hug about fifty times for each person, tears were always shed, then getting into the old van, and watching out the rear window until our new “family” was out of sight. Spending the next 17 hours talking about how fast we could get back there, and who we were going to make sure came back with us. We also knew that our lives would never be the same… but why?
In Matthew 22 the Sadducees are questioning Jesus, trying to get him to say things that were heretical, and according to their law false. He continues to stump them, when finally, they ask him in verse 36, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
If we love Jesus, then we are going to love people. Love them with our words, love them with our time, love them by helping them, love them while worshipping together. We had done all of this, and that had affected change. Change in our hearts, in our minds. We had stood next to other Jesus followers, we did not always understand each other, but we were loving each other by just showing up.
In the world we live in today, I think that our idea of love has changed. We believe that we can “love” when we are family, or “love” only when we feel like it or “love” only when we agree on any and all subjects. We believe that we “deserve” love, and that others should have to earn it. We believe that love is a feeling, and not an action…but guess what, that’s wrong!
I knew nothing about Monterrey Mexico before I went, I barely knew Spanish. I was the foreigner in a much larger city than I had ever known. I did not know how to mix cement, I did NOT like hard labor, I really hated being sweaty. I’m sure that had we discussed different topics as we do today, our views would’ve been different, according to our cultures and our environments’ that we grew up in. I did not like talking in front of people at the time, especially sharing my testimony, being vulnerable was not an option for me. There were so many things that I could’ve used to keep me from this trip.
BUT God said go, he made a way, for the daughter of a single mom, to afford this trip, he opened every possible door, so that there was no doubt that I was to be there. I showed up, I worked through, I prayed for a servant’s heart, I prayed to “Love my neighbor as myself”.
What I didn’t expect, is the change this was going to make in MY LIFE. Sure, I was there to help them with their projects, but God, wanted to teach me that to love means to act. I can’t just say it, I have to live it!
I went back on 4 more Short term Missions trips to MX. I continued to sweat, I continued to bruise, and bleed sometimes, but mostly I continued to act out my love for people, no matter what the circumstances may be. I learned during those years to push myself to walk into uncomfortable situations, and God would show up to teach me how to love in any of them. Laying down my fears, my excuses, my will, to learn to love like Jesus.
When was the last time your love took action?