I not only learned but experienced something new this week. Something so significant that changed my perspective on faith and missions. I learned that transformation happens when you step outside your own comforts and self-protections and show up for the unknowns. When you power down your cell phone and dirty your shoes in new soil. When you position yourself as a guest in someone else's home and choose to be present in another's reality. And when you show up with eyes wide open to all God is doing across the world.
I had the opportunity to travel to a small village outside of San José in Costa Rica. We engaged in a week of intensive labor, building a new home previously held together by rotting shards of metal, for a family of 6. This happened to be the 131st house built by our partner organization. The house was simple by our standards- panels drilled into a cement foundation with concrete flooring- but was certainly more than 4 walls and a roof to this family. It represented newfound safety, security, and hope.
Never have I experienced or seen such genuine joy in service. With cell phones disconnected, distractions were minimal and there was a willingness to be present and engaged with the heavy work load and the people there. During our God-sightings through the week, each teenager spoke of the hospitality and grace experienced throughout the week, the contagious joy and love of the children, and the unexpected moments of God's provision.
The funny thing about traveling to a new place, especially to a culture unlike your own, is that your expectations aren’t always met. But what is certain is that your expectations are exceeded. Tenfold. There is so much life to experience, joy to be found, and life-changing transformation when you travel beyond your borders. You just have to see for yourself.