I have been sitting here staring at the screen trying to come up with the words to write down to capture just an ounce of the incredible experience that just transformed our lives, but there’s simply no way to give it justice. So, here’s a glimpse into what our global(x) mission trip to Guatemala with 410 Bridge did for the people we served and how they impacted our hearts…
Anytime you walk into a new situation, it’s going to feel a little bit uncomfortable. We didn’t know what to expect or how we would be received. It took all of a few smiles, handshakes, and hugs before the connections began! We were so graciously welcomed throughout our whole time visiting two different communities.
First, we taught the children some English at a local school, while also engaging the teachers and parents who were there. It gave us an opportunity to tell them about the love Jesus has for us, the reason we were there, and the love He has for them, the reason we were sharing. Then we played games with the children, and ALL had a blast!
Next, we were able to join community members plant trees for shade at their soccer field and clean up around the area, showing servant-style leadership. We were also given the opportunity to make five different home visits and pray with each family, while making new friends.
The best part was how the community saw that we really did care and wanted to help in any way that we could – showing that we want to love as Jesus loves – and they reciprocated. It was just the beginning of a shift in the mindset of how everyone working together as one community, with one common goal, under one true God can move mountains (literally – we collectively moved a boulder from a rockslide to clear the road)!
I do have to mention the level of service the 410 staff gave- it was a huge blessing! From the moment we arrived, the staff was there to greet us, transport us, feed us, and treat us like true guests in their community. We never had to think or want for anything. We had to travel quite a way to get to the specific communities we served in, and it took some major driving skills to get there (all safe, but no way could I have rented a car and driven there like in America or most destinations).
Everything was planned out to a “T” including scrumptious food and comfortable hotels. The staff said we needed good fuel for our bodies and to be well-rested to have clear minds and healthy hearts to give our all to the people. I cannot speak highly enough of Liliana, Luis, Carlos, Jose, the drivers, and everyone who took such gracious care of us. They all felt like our family by the end of the week!
Finally, I’d like to give you some insight into the spiritual and mental transformations that took place within our own teams’ hearts and how our lives are forever changed. I had not met a single team member in person before arriving at the Atlanta airport on Saturday morning, other than a Zoom call (I was a late replacement for someone else who was unable to go). I had also never been on a mission trip. Needless to say, it was even more awkward arriving at a country I had never visited, with people I had never met, to do work that I had never done. But God placed EACH and EVERY one of us there for a reason and for such a time as this!
Our team devotions, using the mission book 410 provided us, also helped to put us at ease and get to know each other a bit. Of course, by the end of the second day, after visiting with the Leadership Counsels and sharing some more stories and time together, our team really started to open up to each other. We shed tears together, we laughed together, we sang together, we played games together, we served together, and we grew together. By the final night, we had become family. This trip literally was the ultimate team-building and bonding experience that you could ever have!
On our last night, we shared what we learned from each day of serving. We shared how we were feeling and impacted by the mind-shifts that took place by seeing first-hand what ‘poverty’ looks like and realized that it is a mindset and not about material things. We realized so many people we met had more than many of us or people we know have – love, family, community, unity. There was not one of us who did not feel a true transformation take place in our hearts & minds. Returning home, we knew that we could really do more to serve, love, and help people we know are in need.
I hope this gives you a tiny glimpse of what a week-long mission trip can do for you and for others. Even as I read back over my words, I think of so many other stories and experiences I’ve left out. I implore you, quit making excuses (like I did for my entire life) and create the space and time in your schedule to go on one of these trips. I promise it will forever change you, transform you, and for many – save you.