Grant and I have just returned home from, what I hope, is a permanently life-altering trip. We spent the last week in Mazatlan, Mexico, a beautiful coastal city on the Pacific. 11 months ago, when we started our Radical Experiment, we committed to setting aside a week of our year to “give our time in another context.” On January 12th, I wrote this post. Since then, as many of you know, we became foster parents. The idea of leaving behind 3 kids made the idea of a mission trip seem impossible. But, God wanted us in Mazatlan, so everything just fell in to place.
Grant and I had a week of time off that would expire at the end of the year, so we were looking at different vacation options. Both of us really were interested in a mission trip but couldn’t figure out how to make it work with the kids. On October 29th, I went to Bible Study and asked that my group would pray that a mission opportunity would open up for us before the end of the year. That same night, a friend mentioned how she had heard Beth Guckenberger speak at her church and the impact it had on her life. I remembered reading Beth’s book Reckless Faith earlier in the year and the longing it stirred up in my heart to spend time in Mexico…a desire I’d had since high school. Another friend suggested I check out Back2Back, a local organization that serves orphans in Mexico, India, Africa, and now Haiti. I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it earlier, as I had already went on a mission trip with them in the past. I decided to look at their website that night to see if there were any trips that we could join. So, long story short, the Lord allowed several things to work out, and we booked the trip that week!
The week leading up to the trip was incredibly difficult for me. I was wrought with anxiety, so much so that I was starting to dread leaving for the trip. I understand now why that time was so rough. Satan did not want me and Grant in Mazatlan!
Back2Back recently launched its program in Mazatlan at the beginning of this year. Currently, the staff on site work with three different childrens’ homes: one focused on teenage girls, another for special needs children, and the third, a Salvation Army home. Each day we would visit one of the 3 homes, usually completing a work project first, then hanging out with the kids for the rest of the day. Our work projects included starting razor wire on the top of a fence, lots of painting, and mixing and pouring concrete. If you have been looking for some way to “give back,” or if God has begun to speak to you about your role in orphan care, I strongly suggest that you check out this organziation! http://back2back.org/
While on the trip, the Lord really worked on both of our hearts. I had no anxiety the entire time we were there, which is a real miracle for me recently! We had a lot of time to spend with Jesus, undistracted and quiet. The Lord protected our travel and our health. We truly had a richly blessed week. The Lord continued to protect at the airport on the way home. While standing in line for Customs at Dallas, our flight attendant rushed up to me. By the grace of God, a flight attendant on our flight had just happened to look down and found my driver’s license who knows where, recognized me, and sought me out of tons of people in the line at Customs.
This trip was unique in that there were only 7 of us, 5 participants and 2 staff members from the main office in Cincinnati. This allowed me a lot of time to get to know some of the staff that are on site in Mazatlan. I was able to talk about what life was like there for a mother. I loved that I was able to work alongside Grant, serving the homes and the kids, throughout the week. However, if Grant and I were on staff there, it would not look quite the same. Grant would be out working every day, while I would be at home with the kids. The staff women with kids do a whole lot in the background for Back2Back, while also caring for their children. I was so thankful to see how this would look for us, if we lived there.
This trip was different than I was expecting. I have been on several mission trips, and they always give me that “mountain top” experience. The high only lasts for a short time, though, once I’m gone. This feels more…permanent, I guess would be the word. I was expecting to bond with one or two kids and feel greatly impacted by those new relationships. Instead, God used this as a time to show me that this could be our new reality. The last night of our trip, we shared our “picture of the day.” Most days, I would think of this “God moment” right away. That night, I just felt sadness that the trip was over. While I missed our kids, I was not ready to leave this city, these orphans. Right before my turn, the Lord just overwhelmed me with the thought that this wasn’t the end for us in Mazatlan. We would be back. It was startling and gave me goose bumps! We were asked to think about one word that would describe our trip. I experienced so much this week. The Lord moved my heart in some dramatic ways. Trying to figure out one word to describe so much was hard. Broken. I met many broken children. I met staff who had been broken for these children. And, God broke my heart, too. I have an ache for these kids that seem to live in a whole other world. I pray that He leaves that ache there, so I will not grow weary of praying for them or whatever else He has in store for my family, regarding orphan care.
The last part of the trip, I read a book called Anything. Essentially, the author and her husband told the Lord that they would do anything that He asked of them. She talked about praying and surrending each “big” thing in their lives, things that could take the place or priority over God: house, career, kids, money, etc. I thought about all the things that I hold on to for dear life-my family, my health, my comfort. I’m not sure exactly what the Lord is preparing us to do, but I want to be ready to say YES, whatever it is, whatever the cost. God, we’ll do anything. Anything!