By Jennifer Hein
Perhaps the most common question a mission team participant hears after returning home is, “So, what did you do?” While we could certainly list the places we went, the new friends we made, the children we sang/colored/read/played/laughed with, the joys and challenges, and the tasks that were completed, these answers wouldn’t scratch the surface of all that this opportunity offered. Don’t get me wrong. Those stories are precious treasures. Ask to see the photos and hear the stories; you’ll be so glad you did!
However, perhaps the best question I’ve been asked since we returned last weekend was, “So, what did you see Jesus doing?” You see, the real missionaries at Groundwork Guatemala are native Guatemalans serving their own people! They live this ministry rhythm week in, week out: four days per week in different locations of health clinics, Bible teachings, youth Bible study, managing school supplies and scholarships, home visits to share Good News and pray, mission house/vehicle maintenance, and whatever else needs done. The ministry staff, with the energy and help of God, follows this schedule every week whether they have teams from the states or not. They are truly neighborhood missionaries!
So, what did we see Jesus doing? He invited us into the life-giving rhythm of daily Word through significant times of morning and evening devotions, looking deeper at what it means to seek the activity of God and live a life worthy of our calling. We saw the Holy Spirit giving boldness, courage and well-guided words and prayers to the Guatemalan missionaries at the opportune times, sometimes even allowing us to speak into those interactions to share some hope or good news.
We saw language barriers crossed through great non-verbal communication or making our limited Spanish understood. Jesus offered us the chance to question what poverty truly is when people who “have nothing” can share of their full hope, trust in God, joy and concern for others above themselves. (Ask a team member about a home visit!)
We saw a group of 8, virtually strangers to one another, spend 8 solid days in close quarters and still come home laughing together, eager to gather together again soon. In spite of long, tiring days in a climate our bodies aren’t adapted to at this time of year (and ridiculously noisy surroundings!), God preserved our health and rest patterns. And in beautiful ways, different for every person, God drew hearts closer to see what it means to follow Jesus like you haven’t before. Because when there are many factors outside one’s own power to change the outcome, that is where we learn to trust God in new and deeper ways.
And so we return with a new picture of what it could look like to follow Jesus in our own daily lives. What if we lived as authentically in our walk with Jesus as the Guatemala leaders we served with last week? What if my neighbor (literally the people at home, work, school, in the community) saw me live the same way I do at church or with my Christian friends? What if we knew and loved the Holy Scriptures so much that we were “always prepared to give an answer…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), offering hope and encouragement the way the missionaries did to those we visited…and to us.
What would all of that look like? What next steps would be required, and who might take them with us? Will we walk courageously together into that sort of life, depending on the promises and presence of Jesus?
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Thank you to our prayer partners, to the friends and family who encouraged our participation, and to all who participated in spirit through donations of all kinds.
We invite your curiosity! Ask about our stories, the new friends we made, what made us laugh and what made us hurt, what rattled our cages a bit more than we were prepared for. Most of all, ask us where Jesus is inviting next because of what He showed us in Guatemala. The Guatemala mission trip might have come to a close, but Jesus is on the move in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and He invites us to join Him!