Heart of Flesh (Mission Trip Lesson #3)…

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This is me, my son, and K2.  She is strong… she is brave.

I’ve heard from many people that have been on mission trips that you need to look out for the “God moments.”  I’ve also heard that you don’t know if the mission trip is for the people where you are going or for your own self.  I guess, a bit of both.  I tried so hard to be open to the new experiences.  I was told to “be flexible.”  Lord, I tried!

K2 and I have been friends for a while.  I am so thankful that God keeps putting us together more.  I love getting to know her more.  She is tough.  I can’t tell you what she does for a living, but I can tell you that she can take you out.  And, I don’t mean to dinner (although I’m sure she would!).  She is brave… she is hardcore… but she has one of the softest hearts I have ever witnessed.

Everywhere we went in the villages, she and her son were the first to break out a toy for a local child.  She was the first to offer to buy something at every store.  Me… I’m thinking save my money… I don’t really need that.  She was thinking (I’m guessing), I can help support these people’s businesses.  I might not need it that bad, but they might.  I learned to see a different side of money by watching her use it.  Don’t you love it when you are open to learning from others?

Anyway, if you know K2, you know that she gets emotional.  At first, it’s unexpected.  If you don’t know her, I can say that to pray with this woman is a true gift.  She pours her soul into every prayer.  She prays deep and true.  Some of the villagers that we prayed with didn’t understand a word she was saying, but they understood her heart.  What a gift!  I think that sometimes she gets self-conscious about how emotional that she is, but sister… let me tell you, we all should be that way.  When we totally “get” that we are sinners and that Christ gave His life for us so that we could spend eternity with him… that is something to get emotional about!  She “gets” it.

I like to think that I “get” it, too.  But, something about being with this heart of flesh for a week makes me think I could get it more.  She teaches me that you can tough and soft at the same time.  You can be strong and you can be broken.  Thank you sweet friend.

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19

Lost Passport (Mission Trip Lesson #2)…

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This is me and my pastor’s wife (hereafter “K”).  We’ve been friends for years now.  She is artistic, I am task-oriented.  Sometimes, I keep her grounded… sometimes, she encourages me to step out of my box.

Our group had a perfect trip, but our trip home had some hiccups.  We, by the grace of God, made it on the plane out of Mexico.  We landed in Atlanta.  We were hurrying to get on our plane home.  The six of us came around the corner to the US Customs area.  My son and I were in the back of the group.  The others were scanning their passports.  I told my son to get out his passport.  His reply… “I don’t have it, I put it in your bag.”  Excuse me? What?!  “Son, it’s not in my bag!”  Him… “maybe I left it on the plane.”

That is when I lost my mind.  I sat on the floor, emptied my bag, and confirmed that I didn’t have his passport.  All kinds of things went through my mind… we can’t get back in the US without his passport… we will miss our next flight… how could he lose his passport and be so nonchalant about it?!  I sat there and cried… for about 15 seconds.  Then, God said to me “it will be ok, I’m here… get up.” Then, my military spouse self kicked in.  I told my son to go tell the others that we didn’t have his passport.  We all got together and I told them with truest sincerity to go catch the flight home.  My son and I could rent a car and drive home, if we had to.  I didn’t want them to miss the flight.  We’d be ok.  I’m used to being independent.  We were in America, so I was ok.

I reassured my friends that it was ok to go.  They went.  My son and I sat.  We waited for around 20 minutes, which seemed like eternity, for someone to go look on the plane for his passport.  I called my husband, texted my mom.  Then, my phone rang… it was K.  She said “I’m down in baggage claim.  The other mom went to try to catch the plane.  I am here waiting for you.  I am not leaving you.”

Y’all, even now typing those words has me teared up.  I am a military spouse.  I am beyond accustomed to being left, to handling it alone, to being the one that stays behind.  To hear someone say to me “I am not leaving you” was profound.  To have someone choose to stay, to pick me, to lose her ride home… there are no words. I don’t think I’ve had anyone say that to me before.

We ended up getting my son’s passport and getting reunited with K.  She was at a ticket counter trying her best to get us home.  The other mom (hereafter K2), had missed our last flight even with best efforts not to.  We were all stuck.  I watched K as she worked through every scenario to get us all home.  Normally, I am the “doer,” she is the “visionary.”  At that point, all I could do was sit and watch… my brain was fried… I was done.  I was so proud of her for taking care of all of us (I think she was even proud of herself).  I knew it was out of her comfort zone, but she rocked it! I couldn’t find words to tell her what that whole event meant to me and I’d probably cry like a baby if I tried.

Sometimes, we just need someone to be there… to say “I’m not leaving you.”  God is with us all the time and while sometimes we may be physically alone, He is with us.  I knew that God was with me.  He told me it would be ok and I believed that.  But, I can’t tell you what it meant to have this human tell me she was with me.

Do you know someone who is going through a hard time?  Call them, text them, tell them that you are with them… you are not leaving them… hold their hand… cry… just be there.  It means more than you know.

After note: In NO way am I throwing K2 under the bus.  She had a new foster baby to get home to and medical appointments to take her father to.  She is a rock star in her own right and my next blog is focused on the lesson I learned from her.

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Excess Baggage (Mission Trip Lesson #1)…

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My son and I just came back from a mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico… our first.  We’ve never really been anywhere, so this trip was filled with a lot of “firsts.”  Our whole group was three moms & three sons.  A great combination of women and boys!

There is a couple from our church who moved to Tuxtepec, Mexico.  We all stayed with them.  Before our trip, we were instructed not to check bags, just take carry-ons.  I’m sure there were a few reasons for this, but it made it hard for this unseasoned traveler to pack.  Our group had our packing all mapped out in our minds (a bunch of moms always have plans).  Then, we were told that we needed to bring a donated guitar… a huge backpack with batteries for the drone… and two filled bags of toys and candy. AAAAHHHHH!  Are you kidding me?!  How are we supposed to take all that since we are not checking bags?  Sigh…

Quite honestly, the three of us had conversations about this… “why did he decide now that he needs a guitar?”… “why do we have to carry this stuff?”… “can’t the next team take it?” … “he told us to just carry-on bags to make it easier, doesn’t he know adding stuff is making it harder?”  In the end, we sucked it up and took everything.

The family carrying the drone battery backpack was stopped in every airport.  The backpack was big and looked weird on the inside.  It looked questionable.  We had small delays through every security checkpoint.  An inconvenience.  My son carried the guitar, it was awkward to carry and to find space for in the overhead bins on the airplanes.  Another inconvenience.  We all packed the toys & candy.  This wasn’t a big deal, but it meant less packing room in our suitcases.

As our journey went on, we became more at ease with our excess baggage, it was less of a pain once we knew what to expect.

I will tell you though, when we got to Mexico, the missionary was so happy to have the drone batteries so he could document the area with his drone.  And, our translator, who also played the guitar, was elated to have it.  She opened the bag and said “I am in love with this guitar… it smells like America.”  When we were in the villages, the people (kids mostly) would watch the drone footage on the screen.  They were amazed and delighted to see such views of their own areas.  Our children gave the toys and candy to different village children.  Our kids and their kids were ecstatic over these exchanges.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, what if we wouldn’t have carried all this?

Figuratively, in all of our lives we carry excess baggage (life experiences/struggles).  Sometimes they are big and bulky, sometimes awkward, and sometimes we just pack them away with our other stuff… but we all have excess baggage.  The joy is realizing that no matter what baggage you have, God will use it for good.  He may use it to help someone else, he may use it to bless you, if you’re lucky, both.  The blessings may show up sooner… or later… but I guarantee, they will show up.  You just have to open your eyes to see them.

Literally, sometimes we just have to physically carry something so someone else doesn’t have to.  We can carry a load to lighten someone else’s.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6