Leading up to February 2020, going on an out-of-country mission trip had been something I had wanted to do for many years. I remember the very first mission trip to Haiti that members of my home church went on several years prior. I had wrestled with the idea of going, but had decided ultimately against it. After that trip, every time a group from church went somewhere, I felt a desire to join but never like it was the right time.
Then, once Adam and I got married in 2016, he agreed that a mission trip was something he wanted to do, as well. So, we made a plan to go on a mission trip with our church when the time seemed right.
A few years later in 2019, our church’s first mission group to Guatemala returned home and spoke so enthusiastically about their experiences staying at Catalyst Resources International (CRI) and working with the team there to serve the people of Guatemala. Hearing the stories from my mother and younger sister who had gone on the trip about how much they loved it especially made Adam and me really start to consider going the next time our church went.
So, a few months later, once a trip was determined for 2020, it was like God had planned for us to go. We were able to work out the logistics of time away from work, so many from our small group at church were going (which we were so excited about), and it truly felt like God orchestrated this specific trip for us to take.
Now, on the year anniversary of our trip, it still stands as one of the most impactful experiences of my life.
Being with the Guatemalan people was such a gift of joy – whether we were playing basketball with kids at Mimi’s House – a local orphanage, spending time with the family my team built a house for, or just interacting with people in town. The gratitude and genuine happiness that exuded from the people I met was overwhelming.
I remember a ten-year-old girl named Kaylee at Mimi’s House: a child old enough to realize her situation, who could have acted angry or blamed others. Instead, she got off the school bus at the orphanage, kissed & hugged the little kids, and then changed out of her school uniform to come outside and play with us. She was the last child in the yard waving goodbye as we left that afternoon.
I remember the family of seven whose house my team built. The children and mother were all so excited all week, but the father was expressionless much of the time. However, on the day we dedicated their completed house, he was unable to fully express his thanks because of his emotions. The love that he and his family showed our team that day is a memory I will not soon forget.
The Guatemalan people made such an immense impact on me, but so did the missionaries at CRI: Fontaine and Paula Greene. My church family has supported long-term missionaries for as long as I can remember, and we have even had some of the missionaries we support visit and give us updates on their work from time to time. But, this trip was my first personal experience with a long-term mission.
To see the entire Greene family: Fontaine, Paula, & their daughters and their families all devoting their lives to sharing Jesus with the people of Guatemala was one of the most beautiful acts of service I had ever witnessed. They have given up the comforts and familiarities of life in America to live and work and fellowship in a less fortunate country in the name of Christ. To say the least, their love and dedication to others was convicting, and I am so grateful that they open their lives to hosting teams to partner with them in their mission to show God’s love.
Now, after a long twelve months (especially considering what the twelve months from February 2020 to February 2021 have brought the world), I feel even more blessed that I was able to be a part of this mission trip. From the specific team members who were on the trip to the experiences of the week itself, I know God ordained the entire thing. It has been my hope for the past year, and still now a full 365 days after touching back down in America, that in my daily life I can live with a greater sense of joy, thankfulness, and dedication to serving others – to live more in the Jesus-style each moment of each day.