The idea of a mission trip is daunting for most people. Anyone over the age of 6 has responsibilities and connections that beg us not to go. Add in caring for others and reporting to the people who electronically deposit your paycheck, and well, it’s tough. Of course there’s also fundraising and the acknowledgement that your heart will emotionally split right open. Then there’s the discomfort of the unknown, possible language barriers, and the threat of illness. Who wants to sign up?
No joke, all of that is true! But this would be a terrible promotion for mission trips if I didn’t suggest all the grace and growth you can gain too. I AM ART taught me that pain leads to growth. Heartbreak, grief, disappointment, struggle, and sadness can lead to a deeper understanding of love, joy, perspective, and contentment. Choosing to engage in mission is a subconscious decision to welcome grace into our lives.
My decision to travel to Guatemala with Athentikos for I AM ART at the Oasis Home For Girls, was a longing for healing and perspective after the deaths of my brother and mother, and to feel connected to my nephew that was born in the beautiful, yet complicated country of Guatemala. Knowing the story of Athentikos and the work they are lovingly committed to, I knew the perspective of my grief and the outlook on my world would change. I was pretty sure my heart would break deeper from observing and hearing the stories of people around me, but I was also confident I would feel a sense of healing by sharing my heart, humor, and empathy with the people I would met.
My heart did break open, many times for many reasons, but what continued to draw me back to center was the love that so obviously surrounded me. One of the most profound days on my trip was during “Conflict Day” when our class was invited to share our story with one another. I was asked to share what brought me to art camp. Through sloppy tears, and many pauses, I shared my heartache and fear with the girls. One of the older girls, Sondra, prayed for me with our group in such a detailed and beautiful way. She prayed for my courage and peace to trust God’s love for me and to release my fear. This girl, who had been removed from her home and family to heal from a crime committed against her … was praying for me. These beautiful children, even the girl mothering her own child, were lifting me up despite their own fears, heartbreak, and brokenness. We looked at each other and knew we are different, but our brokenness and humanness made us know and love each other deeper. Despite the pain, there was still so much joy and love.
[/vc_column_text][mk_gallery images=”7957,7958,7959,7960″ column=”2″][vc_column_text]From an early age, I have known the brevity of life. This has encouraged me to consider how I want to spend my time here while I have it. I have a servant’s heart, so naturally, some of my most profound understandings have come from serving others. I encourage you to discover your gifts and then use them in service to others. When you discover that treasure inside you and then give it away to a greater purpose, it fuels you in a way that has no need for caffeine or sleep. Well, maybe sleep and a little caffeine, but it is a force that can’t be denied.
Our world is straight up nuts right now. It’s scary and often it seems we’re either too afraid to or too numb to respond. Trying to understand one another is like wading through mud. Where do we step first? What if there’s conflict or pain along the way? What if we’re judged harshly by what our heart is feeling? And even worse, what if we do nothing? We are made for loving one another. Even the folks that get right under our skin and squirm around. Yes … we’re meant for loving them too.
[/vc_column_text][mk_gallery images=”7956,7962″ column=”2″][vc_column_text]While trying how to figure out a difficult relationship, I read a devotional that described a woman who kept asking God to change the other person so it would be easier to share her love. The answer God revealed to her was asking her to consider how HE loved the “difficult” person and asked her to try loving her in the same way. Perspective, it changes everything.
When we enter mission with an open heart and mind, and with the understanding we will occasionally be uncomfortable, magic happens … Grace happens. That grace helps us meet each other with a clearer vision that we are all connected. And, when we acknowledge we belong to one another our response changes. Our hearts soften, our ability to listen deepens, and our empathy allows us to respond in a more meaningful way.
Athentikos is planning two I AM ART camps in Guatemala this fall. The regular registration deadline is August 15. Take a look, and listen to your heart. Even if this is just a seed planted for another time, take a few minutes to see grace in action.
http://athentikos.com/iamart-projects/iaa-fall-2016/[/vc_column_text][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”x-large” url=”http://athentikos.com/iamart-projects/iaa-fall-2016/” fullwidth=”true” bg_color=”#dd9933″ btn_hover_txt_color=”#dd3333″]Click here to learn about I AM ART Fall 2016[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]