Guatemala: Siempre en Mi Corazón

"I have learned that I will not change the world, Jesus will do that. 
I can however, change the world for one person... 
And if one persons sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. 
In fact, it is worth spending my life for." 
- Katie Davis, Kisses From Katie 

There are two circumstances in which I am able to write without much effort.  One is when there is so much of an overflow, it steadily pours out. The other is when I am utterly wrecked or cut wide open and bleeding uncontrollably.  

This would be the latter and it's messy.  Because I'm messy.  And a mess.

I couldn't even manage a clever title post.  

Siempre en mi corazón.  Always in my heart.  

There is so much to say and yet so few words.

My first foreign mission trip at the age of thirty-eight wrecked me afresh, and in ways it might not have at the age of eighteen, or twenty-eight...

You remember when you were little and you would spin around and around laughing and giggling, but when you stopped you promptly fell straight down, dizzy and disoriented?  

Yea, this is sort of like that.

I've been home a little over 48 hours and I've spent so many of those hours planning how soon I can go back, how much Spanish I can learn in the interim, and I have found myself googling things like "how to readjust after a mission trip".  

I've spent most of the time trying to be quiet, trying to pretend I'm normal (for me), that I'm still me ... all the while trying to reconcile what that even means anymore.   

I am trying to make sense of it all, to somehow reconcile the reality of my life with the reality I became immersed in there.  

I find myself trying to reconcile, if not justify, how very rich - and utterly ridiculous - my reality is.  I find myself disoriented ... and disgusted.

People tell me that they can't wait to hear all about the trip and all I want to do is tell them about how foolish and blind and wasteful and rich and ridiculous we all are.

In fact, I just want to shout it from the rooftops.

The Lord first began calling me to a mission trip back in 2009.  Which, in hindsight, is now comical  Christian jargon.... as if He calls just a few of us - as if the Great Commission is a mere suggestion for His followers.   

I digress.  It was the beginning of this year that I was feeling spiritually complacent.  Life - and my relationship with the Lord - had begun to feel too routine.  I prayed that He would move me - and move in my life, and He moved me again with just His word, "Go".   

I have been to several third world countries over the course of the last decade.  I have stared out the window at impoverished communities through the window of air conditioned buses on long rides to various resorts.  I have felt the slight stings of conviction that quickly faded within the gates  and spent time trying not to imagine what was beyond the tall concrete walls that separated us from the outside.   

My eyes had seen tattered streets, but never before walked along them.  

I had imagined the faces of the children from a distance, but never gotten close enough to know them by name.  

You think the silliest things beforehand - and people affirm such - that you'll develop a deeper sense of gratitude for what you have, that you'll appreciate home more, that you'll be more thankful...  

And all of those things are seemingly true - all logical and rational responses - but so incredibly trivial.  Instead of thankful, I find myself heartbroken.  Over all of the things.  Thins like clean water, of which we have infinite amounts ... that we pour on the ground.  To make our grass green.    

There, you see both the land and the people through the lens of Christ, and the beauty within both is magnified tenfold, almost too much for your eyes or mind or heart to behold.  

And just when you're overwhelmed with the beauty of this place... 

You come face to face with the very image of God.  You see Him in the eyes of these impoverished children who were made in His image.  In their eyes, you see your own reflection and just as the Word is a mirror, they too, become mirrors for your soul.

You see Him in the staff at the mission - these people, who become like family to you over the course of just a few short days - these are people who have sacrificed their entire lives, having poured themselves for the sake of the gospel.  They reflect the very glory of our God.  

It's not just what God is allowing you to see there; it's what's He is allowing you to see in yourself while you're there.

You cannot stay the same.  You cannot leave unchanged.  

I can't stop thinking about the story of the rich man in Matthew 19.  The one who asked Jesus what he needed to do to gain eternal life.  Jesus tells him to follow the commandments.  He had that part down.  Anything else?  Oh, and also, yea - just one more thing, Jesus adds: "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me" (v. 21).

The man went away very sad.  Because he had a lot of stuff. 

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples - and us - this: "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  I'll say it again - it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God" (v. 23-24). 

In our Christian subculture, we've made this passage of scripture about pretty much anything and anyone other than ourselves.  We tell ourselves things like, "This man's problem wasn't his riches, but that he held too tightly to them, so we're okay as long as our nice things aren't idols" or "as long as we hold them loosely" or my personal go-to: "This man was apparently much richer than us, we aren't rich, we're just middle class so this doesn't really apply to us."  

Late last night, I tell this to my husband, as if it's entirely new information: "Jesus is talking about us here.  It's all of us.  And we don't even realize that it's us."

"They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand." ~ Isaiah 44:18
Satan blinds the eyes, causing absurd reasonings in matters of religion. Whether men seek happiness in worldly things, or run into unbelief, superstition, or any false system, they feed on ashes. A heart deceived by pride, love of sin, and departure from God, turns men aside from his holy truth and worship. While the affections are depraved, a man holds fast the lie as his best treasure. Are our hearts set upon the wealth of the world and its pleasures? They will certainly prove a lie. If we trust to outward professions and doings, as if those would save us, we deceive ourselves. Self-suspicion is the first step towards deliverance. ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on Isaiah 44:18
The plaster from my eyes has been torn, violently.

And all I can tell others - all I can say to you - is just. go.

Go somewhere and give a week of your life away.

Go and let Jesus wreck your life and when you come home, let Him decide how to put the pieces of the wreckage back together.  Let Him decide which pieces will remain and which will be cast aside.  

I'm allowing Him to reconstruct and reorder the wreckage of me and I don't know what that will look like.

I only know this: 

I am convinced, now more than ever, that the measure of fullness of every fruit of the spirit in our lives [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control] can only be measured by how much of our lives we give away for the sake of the gospel. 

It's going to be hard for us to enter the kingdom, it's even harder for us to experience a taste of His kingdom here. 

And so we learn seek it.  Daily.  

With the plaster torn from our eyes and hardened hearts shattered, we seek.

We seek to learn what it means to sacrifice our lives for the sake of the gospel in the here and now, among our landscaped yards and sidewalks and streetlights...  

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33

One of my favorite days of the trip was the day we visited the local public school.  We made our way down a tiny path in the village.  The children, many who come from broken homes and neglect, loved our attention, our hugs, our photographs.  We made lanterns out of construction paper with them, and on it, they wrote this verse:

"Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105

And I'm reminded of where my own faith journey began, feeling so similarly heartbroken and disoriented, not knowing how to move forward. The Lord spoke, as He always does, through the truth of His word and it became the lamp to my own stumbling feet, the light to my own torn and tattered path.  The same one that eventually led me Guatemala - and to Him all over again.  


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