I came home from Guatemala feeling a lot different than when I left. Maybe it’s because I only got an hour and a half’s worth of sleep the night before I boarded the airplane home, but I think “emotional wreck” might be an understatement for describing my internal condition. I stayed up all night and into the early morning trying to hold onto the very last bit of time I could spend at Oasis with my new friends and passion for I AM ART Camp. But in the end, I knew I needed to return to go to classes, write papers, and take final exams.
Now that I am home, everyone keeps asking how my trip was and I want to be able to tell them everything, but words just don’t seem to be enough to explain it. I LOVED my time in Guatemala. The country, the culture, my team, and those girls were all enough to break my heart apart into a million pieces and reassemble it like the collages I helped the girls make in a workshop. Together we learned about the process of layering different pieces of papers and materials (ourselves and each other) to create a beautiful masterpiece, even if we didn’t know what it would look like in the end.
I knew I would be sad coming home; I wanted my final collage to look like Guatemala and I AM ART Camp, not school and work. I didn’t want to leave when I was having such a great time and connecting with both my team and God in ways that I haven’t connected in a while. But what I didn’t expect was a different kind of emotion that I couldn’t even name on my own, a layer I hadn’t really planned on putting in my collage.
I asked my friend Tina who had gone on this trip last year about how she felt coming home and she finally gave me the word I was looking for – resentment. I’m not trying to say that I didn’t experience incredibly positive emotions. Everything you’ve ever heard about mission trips is true: they energize you in an unexplainable way. They supply you with extraordinary amounts of joy and love and connection. I feel all those things on a level I didn’t even know was possible. But I also feel resentment. I am bitter about coming home to all the obligations and necessary work when I feel so called to the mission of Athentikos and I AM ART Camp. Then once I recognized the resentment, I started to get mad at myself. I began asking myself, “Why didn’t I do all this work before I left? Why am I letting everything get under my skin? Why can’t I just enjoy all the positive feelings I felt before I came home?”
So as I wrote this blog and tried to answer those questions, I remembered a message we were told about Jesus’s presentation of bread in the Bible. First, it was chosen. Second, it was blessed. Third, it was broken. Then, finally, it was given away to be shared with others. I was chosen when I felt God calling me to ask about working with Athentikos, and chosen once more when Amelia encouraged me to join one of the I AM ART trips. I was chosen to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Then I was blessed through my experiences in Guatemala. I’m blessed to have met all the wonderful people on my team and to have been able to open up my heart wide enough to fit over 100 girls and their stories inside. I’m blessed to be able to come home and tell my stories to everyone I meet. Yet as much as I keep trying to resist the brokenness, I know that I have to go through that too. It’s not a forever brokenness. I wrote in my Wreck This Journal this week, “Broken isn’t forever”, and I still believe that to be true. It’s hard to be grateful for being broken, but the girls at camp showed me just what it means to be part of the step where you’re given away to be shared with others. It doesn’t make missing my team or the girls any easier, but I think I might be able to love a little more and forgive a little easier. They set an example for me in their faith in God and love for one another.
As I mentioned, the night before I came home was rough. But that night (or early morning if we’re going to get specific), Amelia took my hands in her own and said a prayer for me so that I might come home and be filled with joy and spirit and not overcome by depression and pain. She didn’t pray that I wouldn’t experience hurt or brokenness; I think we both knew it was going to be difficult no matter what. But she knew that I would be changed in the best kind of way if I could let my heart be open to it… if I could give my broken pieces back to God and trust Him to create His masterpiece. So now, I am trying to figure out what that looks like exactly, and because of this trip, I have the courage and faith to grow and discover what I am called to do. I think that’s worth being a little bit broken.
God is our refuge and our strength. Our safe help in times of distress. Psalms 46:1