So now what? What kind of an impact has this trip had on Dan and I? Well, first of all, here are a few things that we miss: the team bonding, the Haitian/Dominican people, the scenery, loud music, crazy driving, Manuel, the mountains, getting dirty, building/laying block, and the weather. Yeah the loud music we miss because it was part of the culture. One of our teammates/youth group kids had a video he took of the driving experience with music blaring. It just brought us back to the times when you can’t even have a conversation because the music is so loud – but that is who they are. They sing in cars just like we do :).
This trip has also made us realize how important relationships are. Though we feel we didn’t do as much “work” as we would have liked to, but getting to know people is what we tried to focus on. Like I’ve mentioned before, though we may not see these people again til heaven, it was a reminder of how many people we have in our life here in St. Joe and all over, that it is important to keep in contact with them. That is the Dominican culture – hang out and talk. I feel Dan and I do that a lot, but sometimes I feel we could do better at that. God has blessed us with the opportunity to do youth ministry and at times it is an overwhelming task, but we try to build up as many relationships as we can. That is what keeps people connected to a church sometimes – those who welcome them back. I think of how we were welcomed into Esperanza CRC – I would go back in a heartbeat because I felt so welcomed. Do we offer that same type of welcome into our house or youth group? It made us think!
As with any mission trip, it makes you think about the life you live. I think we can get caught up in our own life and not see the big picture. We actually appreciate more the simple life that we live and the smallness of our house. Yes we still have things that “clutter” our life, but we daily try to work that out. We realize the importance of DAILY living out a mission trip. But that begs the quesiton, what is OUR daily mission trip? It is easy for us to say youth ministry. But what ABOUT youth ministry? Again it brings us back to the relationship with our kids. Do they feel they belong? Do they feel loved? Are they growing closer to God? We have the chance to be a part of those questions. We still miss the Dominican incredibly! We were watching a few videos on Monday night and our hearts ached again to be back there. But, God has placed us here, not in the Dominican, to live out our faith. God has blessed us with a ministry here in St. Joe. We need to make the most of EVERY opportunity here and know that we were encouraged to continue to do what we are after the DR. Dan just told one of our youth group kids that we will probably be doing this til we’re 50 and beyond. We hope so! Unless God calls us to something else, we probably will!
One more thing…this trip has definitely increased our excitement for going back to Newark this summer with our youth group kids! We are ALL (including the kids) are stoked – some of us have been there, so there is that level of comfort that we already have – and now we get to see others have a new experience too. I am excited to see how God uses our group there and works in the hearts of our kids and the hearts of those we will be working with!
As you can see, we have a deep passion for mission trips – always have. But like I said early, how can we live out a mission trip every day? What is your “mission field” where you live?
This weekend, Dan and I have the opportunity to go to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Chicago! We have gone for a couple of years now, and it is such a blessing everytime! Sometimes it is information overload, but it is such a refreshing and enriching conference! And, straight from there, I am leaving to go to Florida for a week with my friends Lauren and Tracie! Lauren lives/works down in Jacksonville, Tracie is heading down Friday, and I meeting them on Monday. Can’t wait! It will be wierd traveling, but knowing the language where I am going :). It’s been crazy lately, but a GOOD CRAZY!