I know I’ve been home for almost a week now, and haven’t written a single thing about our trip. And to be honest, I really don’t want to. Mostly because I’m too lazy to have to try to put into words what we experienced. It was an amazing week.
We learned SO much, worked really hard, met amazing people, and all wish we were still there. Our “kids” did so great and Ben and I were proud to be their leaders. The other team we were working with commented so often about how great they were, what hard workers they were, and how good they were at making others feel valued and welcome.
We got to laugh A LOT, created so many jokes, and memories and played a lot of games.
The work we did was new to all of us. We spent the majority of our work days building a house in the community. We mixed a lot of cement (some by hand…some by machine), laid a lot of bricks, hauled a lot of dirt, but had lots of fun doing it.
There were always so many kids around watching us work, waiting for us to go on our breaks so we could play with them. Despite a language barrier (they spoke spanish), we developed friendships with these kids.
See? In those four little paragraphs, I just gave you an overview of our trip. But really, it feels like I told you nothing at all. What I can’t really convey is how much our group grew to love 3 of the workers at the school. We miss them dearly and were amazed at how close we could get in 7 days.
What I also can’t convey is how each night, as we’d meet as a team, my heart would feel like it was full to the brim as our high school students shared what they were learning. We encouraged each other, took turns leading devotions, prayed together and laughed A LOT.
I also don’t think I can really express how much I learned. But I want to try. Our Dominican leader said something on the first day that stuck with me. As we prepared to go on a walk in the community he said “we’re not going to see how they live, we’re going to see how they are”. I really like that. It’s not like there’s this universal standard of what is “ok” or “acceptable”, or “live-able”. This is just how it is. And yes, in my affluent North American eyes, I see extreme poverty, but when I take that away, I just see a different way of life.
He also said when we see where they live to remember that “it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different”. When we see them living 10 people to a one room house, it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different. When there’s no garbage pick up so they just leave it in the streets, it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just different.
It really shaped our week. We stopped feeling like we were all of the sudden in this position of power, swooping in to save the day (my biggest beef with short term missions), and started to feel like because we have been blessed, we get to pour that out to other people. Not because we have the “good” and they have the “bad”, just because we happen to have the resources to take a trip like this and offer what we can.
I stopped trying to “justify” why we needed to go. Stopped trying to make it look like there were really in bad shape and that they needed us to come. I started to see the many many ways God is moving and working in their community and to just be thankful that He’s blessed us in a way that allows us to be a part of that.