Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Little Background

I should preface this with a confession: I am the Doubting Thomas of mission trips.

During my years in the Peace Corps I saw groups appear and disappear, staying for a week or so and presenting a couple mornings of Bible lessons in terrible Spanish before skedaddling off to the beach or the zipline for some tropical fun.

It infuriated me.

I hated the self-righteous attitude I inferred from these Americans, the idea that they were doing the poor natives a huge favor when they distributed the crayons and coloring books packed in their spare suitcases beside the extra bikini and beach towels. I hated that I heard so many talk about the country they had visited for one week (ONE WEEK!) as if they were experts on Costa Rica, when I had lived there three years and still felt I'd barely scratched the surface of knowing this beautiful culture. I was embarrassed by the hidden smiles of the Ticos who played along with the visitors' conceit that a more luxurious lifestyles somehow makes one wiser.

I hated everything about short term mission trips. And still....

I am unapologetically Christian. My relationship with God defines me. And I found myself saying that if my congregation ever took a short-term mission trip to a Spanish-speaking country, I would be part of it. It was a promise I made God in pure thankfulness because He had given me the gift of the Spanish language--I love everything about speaking Spanish. I love the music of how it sounds, I love the liquid vowels and lilting syllables, I love the stepping-through-the-looking-glass feeling I get when I hear it spoken.

So there I was, when our youth pastor announced a trip being planned to Reynosa, Mexico, raising my hand to indicate I was interested in going. I didn't even know where Reyosa was, or what we would be doing, but I knew I had to be there.

There ended up being seven of us who spent last week together at Children's Haven, International:
  • K., the youth pastor, who is still a kid but led this trip with confidence and joy even though he had just finished three solid weeks of youth camps and was suffering from a severe case of shingles the the whole time.
  • T., K.'s wife, whose parents cared for their two pre-school children for the week. T. is tiny and beautiful and dark-haired--she reminds me so much of Lovely Girl that I found myself hugging her with no provocation during the week. 
  • S. and V., who have been Husband's and my friends since the Boys and their children were toddlers. The only experienced short-termers in the group, they've served at missions around the world.
  • E., a high school senior, a girl-woman who can only be described as feline. She is lithe and beautiful and moves silently, and loves art and literature. 
  • D., who just had his 13th birthday. His mother babysat our Boys when we were growing up and it is a joy to see her raising her own babies. 
We knew each other, but not really well. But we did not know at all what the week would bring.

To be continued


  1. Oh always bugs me when you are into a show and says to be continued......ugh. it when you write!!!!

    1. I'm sorry, den! If I'd written this in one piece it would have filled the internet and we'd all have had to go home. Thanks for hanging with me....