What is a short term mission trip about, anyway?
Is it about unusual food and eating routines, trying to get comfortable in a bed that's not your own, and endless hours on the road? No. That's not what it's about…. These things are, however, the cost of entry.
I think our perception of the purpose of mission trips change, as we change, and as we have more experiences with them. I know this is the case in my life. I often say my first ten short term trips were mainly for my benefit, and it wasn't until after the first ten that I began to have something to offer those I was going to see. While there is nothing magic about the number ten, the idea is that your capacity for contribution grows through experience. Some, without this understand, give up before they have developed a contribution beyond themselves. This is sad, and sadly, it's unnecessary.
A Different Mexico
I have been to Mexico far more than ten times (so I hope that my contribution is growing!), and my encounters and experiences there continue to change. I think this is good, but it also causes me to wonder how many different experiences are possible. As of yet, I have not been to all of the areas of Mexico… but I look forward to seeing it all and experiencing all of the people in the different regions. This time, we would go to three destinations I had not ventured to before.
Visiting Jerry and Susy McNally, Puebla & Living Hope International Missions Base are always a delight, but this time was especially so, tho, from the day we arrived there, I had trouble containing my emotions. I remembered something that Paul said during this part of the trip. He said that he wanted to share, not only his knowledge, but his very own heart, because the people were dear to him. I was reminded of this every time I spoke, because I often had to speak thru a cascade of emotions. We managed, and I believe that the time was a blessing for everyone. I know it was for me. One of my favorite things was the time with the Viñeros, who are students in the ministry school. We had some fun hiking and climbing a nearby hill, with a few surprises and challenges along the way.
From there we continued on to Chalcatongo, Oaxaca, which is not really close to anywhere large. It is remote in most senses of the word, but is where good friends are, and, therefore, we go. Marcos and Mary Hernandez have been working in the missions ministry and church planting in the area for many years. It seems like we caught them and Gúzman family (pastors in the next town over, also not close to anywhere haha) at a special time, and we are thankful that the Lord encouraged all of our hearts together. Looking forward to continuing to grow these relationships.
From there, four hours in car to Oaxaca City, and to another reunion of friends in that area. The hospitality we were shown overshadowed any contribution we had, I am sure, but I am hopeful we were a touch from Christ's encouraging hand. It seems we were. We had a nice dinner and coffee afterward and encouraged those who came with personal ministry and words laced with courage. The Lord is serious about keeping his people motivated and ready to overcome, and we join Him in His efforts.
From Oaxaca City we branched off to head west and north, rendezvousing with the state of Veracruz (my first time there) and the orange capital of the country, Martinez de la Torre. It reminded me, in climate, to Houston in mid July, even tho this was just mid May. The humidity was second to none. The warmth extended beyond the climate, and we were well received by friends for a group lunch. Our principal reason for coming to this spot was to visit Martin and Cinthia Corona, who are missionaries from Mexico to Russia. We also met the pastors and church that sent them to Russia, and shared in their meeting that night. It went well, it seemed, and we are hoping to get back there on the next rotation into Central Mexico. Pastor Rafa Sosa and his family made us feel beyond welcome. This place has really got my attention! I wonder why, after ten steady years traveling in Mexico, this is my first time here. Definitely not the last.
Irapuato is also famous for a fruit crop – strawberries – and it was our next destination. Job Rojas, a friend who took the road with me in 2014, had asked us to come, and so we did. It was beyond a blessings to see Job again, meet his family, and meet the church they have been serving in there for 32 years. We were also fortunate enough to get to meet a new friend named Marcelo, who has done some serious adventuring with Jesus. I don't want to do injustice to his story based on my low detail orientation, but, to say the least, he has boldly gone where others have dared not tread with the Gospel. I liked him immediately. Hoping to see all the guys again soon and kick up an adventure of some sorts. Something dangerous. Perhaps we can get Marcelo to tell his own story as a guest blogger. I will check it out and let you know.
Querétaro was our third stop on the new road part of the Tour, and we were reunited with friends from years back, Fer and Ady De Santiago. They also introduced us to the fellowship there, Centro Cristiana Koinania. WOW. This place rocked<<Click for quick video>>. Great to see these guys, meet the family there, and eat guajolotes (spanish word for turkey, tho it's not turkey…), a very local food, after the meeting. Was good stuff! Was a great time, and we are looking forward to see these guys again, as with all on the new road, in our next rotation into this part of Mexico. Great brothers.
As the kilometers approached the 2000 mark, in less than a week, fatigue began to mount. We headed out early for Mexico City to spend time with friends Hugo and Molly and their little guy. Our time had passed in a flash, tho it was 12 days, we didn't do a lot of standing around. It may be that we break this route into two trips downrange, with Puebla and Veracruz on one, and Querétaro and Irapuato on the other. We are thankful for everyone we had the privilege to spend time with, and look forward to deepening our roots together.
I will leave you with a thought for reflection, and pose it as a challenge:
Sometime the biggest part of friendship is showing up.