My son, “Fifteen” and I returned safely from our trip to the Dominican Republic this past weekend. You can see that we’re different if you look closely. Our skin is tanner (bummer, right? :)) and I may have lost a couple pounds. We have new friends on Facebook and new stickers on our passports.
All those things are visible. But what you can’t see is what God does on the inside when you leave your comfort zone and venture out on a mission’s trip. I will be honest…I didn’t want to go. I signed up because I thought it would be a great thing to do in Seventeen’s senior year. Kind of a mother-daughter bonding experience. But at the first meeting back in September, she felt strongly that it wasn’t a trip she was supposed to go on. I was shocked thinking, “I wouldn’t have signed up if not for her, so what’s the deal, God? I’ve been to third-world countries, had my heart ripped out by the devastating poverty that exists…I don’t need to experience this. Why am I going?”
But His ways are higher than ours. He always has a plan and sometimes we just need to wait for it to unfold. After Seventeen decided not to go, I thought maybe I’d ask Fifteen if he wanted to. Then, my husband suggested exactly that. So I asked and he was all for it.
What a perfect plan God had. Fifteen was the only teen boy with several teen girls. (Poor thing ;)) But this group of teenagers was fabulous. They worked tirelessly and without complaint. By the last night, our trip leader said he’d never seen a group of teens work so well together on one of these trips. He said that the teens are often the ones who are complaining and whining but not this group. I can’t count the number of people that came up to me during the trip telling me how they loved my son. I could cry as I sit and write this realizing God’s divine timing is so perfect. In my plan, I would have taken Fifteen in his senior year. That’s three years from now. Instead, as a freshman in high school, he has had his eyes opened to a whole new world and I believe his life is forever changed by it. My hope in bringing him was that all the head knowledge he has about God, as a life-long church-going kid, would be more firmly planted in his heart…that he’d see God in a new way. And I know this trip has brought him closer to his Creator.
I’m so proud of him and the girls that worked with him. And I’m thankful that God arranged for him to come with me to the Dominican. I’m confident it won’t be his last trip there.
And of course, I learned that God didn’t just want to do work in Fifteen…He also had things for me to learn. I am changed too. It’s not the stark, “I’ll never recover from that” trip that I’ve been on before. It’s more subtle…but I still felt God working in my heart. I’ll write a post about what God taught me. (click here for that post) For now I’ll just say that I’ve discovered my mission field is all around me every day.
I’ll have more stories and pictures on here soon. I promise!
Update: March 2013. As often happens in missions, once you go and see what God is doing in some of the poorest countries in the world, you hunger to go back. You want to do more, be more, help more. So, Fifteen has just been accepted as a part of his youth group’s mission trip to Haiti this summer! I’m excited for him (and a little jealous…as I’ve been feeling a pull toward Haiti for a year now! ;)). I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this team of young people who are on a mission to share God’s love and meet people’s needs. Your prayers for he and his team are appreciated! They will be there at the end of June.