My family and I went on a mission trip to Peru with Group International Mission Trips this past summer. While in Peru we spent the week aboard the river boat, "El Evangelista," traveling to different villages along the Ucayali River. During the day we worked on the boat helping clean and paint. In the evening we went into the villages and watched our missionary friends lead a children’s program in churches built by past participants. I wanted to go on a mission trip long before I ever got connected with Group Mission Trips, but there was always a reason that held me back—an expectation I felt I needed to live up to, lies swirling in my thoughts. They sounded something like this:
The Lie(s): It’s not the right time; I should get my finances in order first; I don’t have anything to contribute.
Those feelings were still present when I decided I was going on the trip but I trusted that if listened to God's prompting then He would provide for me. I still felt stressed about the time, I didn’t have the money to spend, and I had a fear of not being the right person to help.
The Truth: If I had waited to feel ready to go I never would have gone. Above anything else, I want to be someone who trusts what God has for me and is obedient when He calls.
When we got to Peru, boarded the boat, and sailed into the jungle, I felt free. For one thing, we didn’t have cell service and that alone is a type of freedom everyone should experience. But the people were so far beyond any expectation I had. I have never met more loving people. Ricardo, our partner in Peru, and his family live in Pucallpa and minister to the Shipibo people. In 2007 they bought a riverboat now named "El Evangelista" and they now travel down the river to different villages telling the Shipibo people about God and also building churches. Just being around them is inspiring. The way God uses people to teach, love, and empower you is a gift you can’t afford to miss out on.
The Lie: I must give or do something valuable in order to be helpful.
It is very easy to hide behind your work while on a mission trip. Experiencing something new is uncomfortable.
The Truth: The point of the mission trip was to support the work Ricardo and his team have dedicated their lives doing. It was never about what we were doing.
You are no longer the expert. You are choosing to learn instead of lead. It was amazing what happened when we gave up control and were present.
The Lie: I am going to miss out on so much because I can’t speak the language.
It is hard for me to stand in front of someone without feeling the need to start making small talk to fill silences, so not being able to fill gaps with words was a little unsettling.
The Truth: I had the most genuine interactions with the locals.
You don’t need words to know what’s going on, you can feel it very deeply. Smiles have never meant so much. Also, I could not be more thankful for games and sports. Every evening we would play soccer and volleyball in the villages and the feeling of belonging you got from playing together was something I will never forget. I haven’t traveled to many places. But the places I have traveled to have welcomed me and left an everlasting impact on my soul. Sometimes it feels like the world and its expectations and lies speak much louder than God and His truth, but I am so thankful for His voice and promise when we lean in and listen. I can’t wait to explore more, see new landscapes, experience different cultures, meet new people, and tell their stories.