If you’ve ever been part of a humanitarian mission trip you know how much these projects change our lives. I thank God for the opportunity to have lived such experiences since 2014 when I went on my first mission trip. It’s like they say: when the mission bug bites you, you never want to miss out! ????
My most recent mission trip happened in January when I had the privilege of participating in the mission to Aquidabã in Sergipe (a state in Northern Brazil). I want to share a little of this particular experience, but I won’t do it alone. Andreia and Gabi (both fellow TGW writers) were there too, and they will also share a little of their personal experiences. Settle in, because we have stories to tell!
I wasn’t supposed to go on this trip. Whenever one of these projects ends, (sometimes even before) we already know what the next destination will be, and when I heard about the mission to Sergipe, I really wanted to go. But for various reasons, it quickly seemed impossible. I was already at peace with the fact that I would have to miss out. But the Lord, in His infinite goodness and mercy, gave me this trip as a gift. Less than two days before the bus to Sergipe was set to leave He gave me the opportunity and all my commitments somehow freed me to go. So I went!
I can’t deny that the trip wasn’t tiring. We were on the bus for days, but the friendship we shared and the purpose for which we were there eclipsed anything that could be considered negative. We left shortly before midnight on Tuesday from São Paulo City and arrived in Sergipe around 3am on Friday. We faced hour-long stops to fix whatever broke down on the bus, air conditioning that stopped working on the last night of the trip (it’s summertime in Brazil, and the further north you travel, the closer to the Equator and hotter it gets), but the trip was great! We had wonderful meals on the road, played and chatted on the bus and were kept by God at ALL times.
In Aquidabã, we found a city full of humble and hospitable people. The welcome they gave us filled our hearts with joy. I believe that among the greatest joys in participating in missions is, in addition to helping our brothers and sisters in need, to hear the phrase “I see Jesus in you”. At that moment we remember that we are NOTHING and that He is everything. It’s impossible to not magnify His name for using people as incapable as we are.
I worked at the reception, where we fill out the forms with the details of each person who would be attended, as well as each service that they would undergo. There, I could see the simplicity of many in the region. Not infrequently, I encountered men and women unable to sign the form due to illiteracy, and they shared with us the work-life they led in the fields. They have so much to teach us! They are so strong! Their example gives us a wake-up call for being a generation that, many times, wants everything within reach without having to make much effort. What broke my heart while working reception during this particular mission, was having to turn people away. On the first day, the flow was more relaxed, but during the other two days, the school where the mission was held was filled in a way that I had never seen during previous mission trips. Closing time would have passed and there would still be people in line. At closing time, most of the services were already at capacity and many people could not be seen any more that day. This broke our hearts, but it reminded us of how limited we are and how much we need Jesus’s aid. Fortunately, despite being unable to help everyone, we were able to attend many people, and we praise God for that!
If you haven’t had this experience yet, let me encourage you to try it. If something is stopping you, talk to Jesus. He can give you the means to live that experience. That’s what happened to me and also to Gabi who was surprised by Jesus and was, finally, able to fulfill her dream of participating in a mission trip. This was how the trip to Sergipe was for her:
“At the end of January 2020, I had the opportunity to go on my first humanitarian mission trip. Every since I was 15 I had wished to be part of one. But my participation in this year’s trip wasn’t planned and much less expected. This experience was a gift from God. Let me explain. Someone from my church had signed up and planned financially to go, but for personal reasons, he had to drop out at the last minute. Still, he felt the desire to dedicate the money he had saved for the mission for its original purpose, and that’s where my story with the mission to Sergipe started. My friend informed me that he’d like to give me this this gift, and I could now go on the mission with all my expenses paid. I thought to myself, “How did God remember this desire? How will I ever repay this gift?”
Soon we were on our way to a city of 20,000 inhabitants called Aquidabã, located in the interior of the state of Sergipe. Living in a city with a very different reality from the one I am used to, the people of that city received us with great affection and happiness for the work that we would do there in the next few days. The aid part of the mission lasted for 3 days with approximately 100 professionals working to provide basic services to the community. Among them: doctors, nurses, dentists, opticians, complementary medicine professionals, lawyers, psychologists, hairdressers, and artisans. All united and working for the same purpose: to serve the Lord.
We served a total of 1,354 people in three days. The seed of love and hope was planted in each of them, and I felt complete because I knew that something great was being done, and we were the instruments. I’m sure the mission was a blessing for the people of that city, but I know that the mission was a blessing for us. We were able to observe, reflect, and come home transformed. I was able to better understand that God is a God of details. He reveals himself to us through special details in our lives, just like He remembered the desire of my teenage heart. I was given the opportunity to return the gift I received by giving my best in everything I did, offering what I receive from the Father daily: love.”
See? God can help you have this experience too. Just talk to Him! Tell Him your desire, your situation. He can help you overcome whatever obstacles, according to His will.
The last story we will tell is Andreia’s experience with a special patient she saw during this mission trip. She wrote:
“Luis Miguel is only 11 years old and was accompanied by his grandmother to his Iridology appointment with me. I took pictures of his eyes and began the assessment. When analyzing his iris, I came across a depressed and sad preteen experiencing an extraordinarily hard time. I was silent for a moment, mind whirling as I asked myself “How will I address this boy?” As soon as I had analyzed his irises, I knew that something very difficult was happening in his life. His anxiety level was extremely high, especially for someone his age. I took a deep breath, asked God for help, and asked, “Luis, how can I help you? Tell me what’s going on…Why haven’t you been able to sleep? Your appetite is almost gone, and the level of anxiety you are experiencing is abnormal for someone your age. What’s happening?” His eyes darted up at mine for a second, and then he lowered his head and started to sob. His cries were so heartbreaking that I couldn’t contain my tears. I clasped his hands tightly and tried to be strong. Putting on a smile, I said: “I’m here to help you”. He told me his story, “My father passed away two months ago, and now I am the man of the house. I need to be strong to help my mom and my 3-month-old baby sister. But it turns out that it hurts a lot, and I don’t know how to deal with that pain! ” I did all I could to help Luis Miguel, prescribing treatments and all I could share. But I couldn’t help telling him about Someone who could help him more than I. “There is a Doctor who can help you endure all sadness and anguish,” I said. “I’m talking about Jesus. At all times, in any circumstance, God can help us heal and start again! ” The same is true for you, dear reader. Don’t let anxiety and anguish take over your heart. Believe in God! He is the solution! During our session, Luis Miguel told me the following: “I choose to be strong in the midst of pain!” I learned so much from that little man. May we choose to be strong in the midst of difficulties and believe that we have a God to help us through!”
Isn’t Luis’s story heartbreakingly beautiful? I invite you to include Luis Miguel and his family in your prayers. I didn’t have the privilege to meet him and neither did you, but we can come together in prayer for him.
I cherish every moment from this trip, and again, I invite and encourage everyone who has the desire to participate in a mission trip. Don’t miss the opportunity to do so. It is an experience that will mark your life forever. Get in touch with the Welfare Department and find out about upcoming events! I want to go on the next mission trip and see you there! Let’s go?