Guatemala! It has been a blessing as we share fond memories, experiences and lots of pictures of our adventure at the “Tracks” in Guatemala City. Facebook has been alive with our pictures and thoughts on Guatemala filling our expressions of gratitude in our mission. It is always our hope that participants not only have a wonderful time, the pleasure of serving and the making of friends, plus the huge blessings for the people there and ourselves, but that they experience a spiritual journey throughout the week. We began spiritual preparation for the mission four months prior to the actual trip with meetings that not only prepare us physically, but also clarify our purpose and reason for glorifying God as we live daily in His Kingdom. Success is not only measured in our completion of the mission; it is measured in how this journey as changed our lives and whether or not it has created a new spirit of Christian growth and maturity. Our “real” mission is how we believe, think and live in the Kingdom of God we are surrounded with on a daily basis. Are we making a difference? Are we sharing Christ? Are we serving others? Are we bringing glory to God and His Kingdom?
There will be a series of articles I will share through the next few weeks that will express our spiritual journey as we prepared for our mission, and the daily devotions we discussed every evening of the mission. Hopefully, this will give you some insight and thoughts about the Guatemala experience that we have grown to love and value.
As we gathered for the first meeting in November, we were excited as we spent time in team building and getting to know each other. We questioned our motivation in wanting to go to Guatemala and what was our motivation in terms of spiritual growth. We discussed what we would learn by going, but more importantly, what was needed to prepare us for such an adventure. We agreed that active participation in our church weekly was a must, along with prayer, Bible reading, devotions and interacting with others with the message of Christ. A key phrase I used often was “Even though this is a short-term mission project, be a missionary every day where YOU ARE, proclaiming the Word of God and giving God the glory!” I have always felt that to be a missionary on a mission trip meant you were already doing it regularly in your daily life.
We noted key characteristics of work camps and always followed up with devotions and Bible readings with questions to follow up at home. Our first meeting scriptures dealt with “Being a Disciple,” “Developing Relationships,” and “The Importance of Prayer.” We also had prayer partners throughout the experience and learned the benefits of prayer. Then, we always left them with personal challenges to meet in preparing for the trip – both physically and spiritually.
Our December meeting prepared for the idea of service. Matthew 20:28 tells us “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The big news was that servanthood isn’t our idea. It started with God. Jesus set the example himself and so we should follow. We discussed the benefits of mission experiences and how it would change our lives. Using Matthew 25:34-36 as our guide we drew into monthly devotions looking at “What Were Scripture Servants,” “Making a Difference,” and “Christlike Leadership.” We then concluded with our quest to carry out the Great Commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
By January we had our plane tickets and we practiced our Spanish as we worked together in preparation. We shared many thoughts on missions, and how we should work as a team to accomplish our mission through scripture and prayers. We also discussed our personal testimonies and how they played a role in our mission. Also, we thought about the benefits of our mission experiences in our church’s ministry and how could we apply them even now. Our monthly Bible studies dwelt on “Bridge Building,” “Living the Life of a Disciple,” and “Challenging Our Walk.” With plane tickets purchased and mission costs due, excitement grew as the time was closely approaching for our departure.
By our last meeting we were pumped with anticipation and raring to go. A key phrase was “We are MOTIVATED to have COMPASSION and SERVE with a Christ-like ATTITUDE together with our TEAMMATES so that others will come to know CHRIST.” Our focus was bringing GLORY to GOD!
We had serious discussions on attitude backed up by scripture and prayers. We learned about the benefits of a mission trip for our church and community. A quote that explored the importance of attitude was this: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential turn a life around.”
Our goal was to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his love. Our Bible study for our final month dealt with “God’s Purpose for Me,” “Our Attitudes,” and “Feeding His Sheep.”
At our last meeting before departure, we shared this scripture: “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” (John 21:15-19)
Guatemala was SO much more than building steps, painting houses, forming relationships, giving clothes away, eating well, having fun, and the many other opportunities we had. It was about God, serving Him, sharing Him, Giving Him Glory!
Next: Our first day in our Spiritual Journey.