Short-term mission trips come with their share of challenges. Before the trip, I found it hard to believe that somehow in a 10 day period, a group of 16 people of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences could somehow come together, plant themselves in a foreign country, adjust to new food, language, and culture, and have a meaningful impact on the people they came to serve.
I was in awe of the way our group demonstrated flexibility, sensitivity, and openness to the daily realities that we faced in Bolivia.
Instead of expressing frustration at the church retreat that our detailed schedule was constantly being rearranged and delayed, our team expressed delight that we could embrace the Bolivian way, release our Type A grip on things, and simply open our arms wide to welcome the beautiful chaos that we know God was orchestrating. If we had been adamant about sticking to our rigid schedule, it could have caused a rift between Resto and La Trinidad. Instead, our team’s flexibility allowed for an easy integration of our groups during which we could focus on what God was teaching us.
Instead of going through the motions of giving gifts at the end of the week to our friends at Niños con Valor and offering a generic thank you to all of the Tias for their work with the children, our team decided to hand-write individual thank you notes to each of the 19 Tias. After a long day of work, our team members willingly gathered around the table at our guesthouse until midnight, reflecting on the distinct personalities of the Tias and specific ways that they love the children of NCV. As we distributed the gifts and notes to each Tia on our final day in Cochabamba, it was brought to our attention that no group had ever thanked each of the Tia’s individually. This gesture was deeply meaningful to them, and I’d like to think that our words and actions played a role in “refreshing workers” – which was one of the main objectives of the trip.
Instead of grumbling about the illnesses that plagued our group from some uninvited friends (amoebas and parasites to name a few), I watched our team members support one another by offering healing prayer and taking multiple trips to the pharmacies to buy various medications. In addition, those who were afflicted with various health issues maintained positive attitudes and continued to offer ways they could help the team fulfill our mission.
These are just a few of many ways that our group demonstrated that they came to Bolivia not to be served but to serve.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” – Hebrews 6:10
I praise God for each individual that he placed on this team and I know that the fruits of their labor will continue to bless our Bolivian friends.