As many of you know, I got back about a month ago from a mission trip to Viterbo, Colombia. I went with an AMAZING team from Bayside and they quickly became like family to me. I really can’t put into words how blessed I was by this group and our leadership! (That would have to be a whole new blog post!!) Our group was very diverse in age, ethnicity, life experiences, giftings, and personalities. There are verses in the Bible that describe this exactly (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The verses use the analogy of body parts making up the body to compare it to the church and its members. Each of us as individuals are the various parts of the body that serve different functions in the church. Each of us are needed and necessary for proper functioning just like each body part is needed for a well functioning body. Well, those verses absolutely came to life for me on this trip. To witness our team work together and compliment each others strengths and weaknesses was beautiful and at times breath taking. It gave me a deeper understanding of God’s heart for His people to work together in unity and to use the gifts He’s given us; we are stronger and better together. So often, we fall into the comparison trap and want to be like other people or have what they have. Be encouraged! God has a much bigger plan and if you will use the gifts He’s given you, you will see His plan come to fruition in ways you never thought possible. He has designed us uniquely and specifically for a purpose and if we all operate out of that place, imagine the places we could go, the impact we could have, and the smile God would have seeing His children work together for Him.
It’s all about God’s intention, not how anointed you are.”Pastor Burnard Scott
God did some pretty incredible things on this trip. As I’m sitting here, I keep asking “Okay God what do you want me to talk about? There is so much I could say.” I could tell you about what I learned about the simplicity of life, living within margins, how blessed we truly are here in America, and so on and so forth. Your mindset truly does shift when you travel to a third world country and come back to a flourishing and abundant nation. But instead I want to tell you how much my heart has changed, how much my motivations have shifted, how much more I fell in love with the Creator and sustainer of my soul. This trip was special. It changed me. It challenged me. It encouraged me. It reminded me.
Meet my sweet friend Luisa. I met her on the second day of our trip. I was immediately drawn to her and that radiant smile you see. We were participating in a 2 day event where we would serve the community in different capacities. While most of guys went out to pick up trash, paint downtown and meet the people of Viterbo, majority of the girls participated in a beautification event. Members of the local church handed out vouchers for women to get their hair and nails done. So as women came in we would do their nails and then they would be prayed for and invited to a church service we would be partaking in later that weekend. So as my friend Katie and I geared up to paint some nails, we see 3 young Colombian women walk in and start unloading all their nail polish and manicuring tools. Katie and I looked at each other instantly with telepathic-like communication skills and just started to giggle. Oh man, we are going to be those Americans who look silly as we attempt to “do nails.” But this wasn’t the case at all. Luisa sat right next to me smiling and even though there was a language barrier, I immediately felt drawn to her. My Spanish isn’t terrible, I can understand a lot more than I can actually speak, which came in handy during this trip. As we attempted to communicate, we realized we didn’t need to speak the same language to connect. We laughed as we tried to understand each other and started to use Google Translator. PTL for technology!! From the moment I met Luisa, I knew God had a specific plan and that this was an intentional move of God. As we spent the day together I got to know her story and I knew with confidence God was up to something. As the week went on we continued to get to know each other through my broken Spanish. But we also got to know each other through painting nails, dancing, enjoying food, and most powerfully through worship and prayer. Our languages and appearances might be different but we love and serve the same God. We got to pray together, cry together, serve together and adventure together. I have found a lifelong friend in this sweet soul. Luisa is a mother, a daughter, a niece, a nail technician, a singer (a beautifully and naturally gifted one may I add), a friend and a daughter of the living King. God used Luisa in my life to show me that language isn’t a barrier when you have the most important thing in common: the love of Christ. He used Luisa to show me what genuine joy and fullness of life looks like. He used Luisa to break down insecurities and a passivity I didn’t know I operated out of. Thank you Jesus for allowing our paths to cross and giving me a Colombian sister.
Luisa: Gracias por amarme y por mostrarme el amor de Cristo de una manera tan tangible. Verdaderamente eres un ángel y te estoy agradecido.No puedo esperar a verte el año que viene!
This is one of my favorite moments of the trip hands down. This is my sweet friend Rashelle. This was the second school we visited this particular day. I loved getting to go into the schools because it brought me back to my Youth for Christ days. We would bring all the kids in and start off with a fun ice breaker game; in this school it was the Oreo and forehead challenge. (If you don’t know what this is, look it up! It’s hilarious!!) After the game we would introduce ourselves and tell them what we loved most about their country. We visited two different schools and at each school about 3 of us shared our stories. We shared about how we came to know the Lord, what we have walked through in our lives, and what God has taught us through these things. I got to share my story at the first school but this experience at the second school was so incredibly special. As I sat among the students, I could see the restlessness, the lack of attention, the chaos that was slipping into the room. I leaned over to Wendy, who was also noticing the shift as well and we began to pray. We knew that the ruler of this world was trying to distract these students from the message being preached. I was annoyed. To be honest it took me a couple minutes to really realize what was going on and that this was a spiritual battle; it really had nothing to do with the kids not paying attention or being restless.
** Side note: Wendy taught me a lot on this trip and took me under her wing. Thank you Wendy for believing in me and speaking words of life and purpose over me. They mean more than I can express and absolutely changed something in me. Thanks for being a prayer warrior and seeing in me something I’ve known was there for a long time but never activated or believed in.
At the end of each time with the students we would ask a series of questions and give them an invitation to be prayed for. I was still a little thrown off from the chaos that seemed to fill the room and honestly was just really annoyed that Satan was trying to distract and disrupt what God was doing. I got up from sitting among the students and headed to the very back of the room. I could see all of the students in front of me and I began to pray. For about 5 minutes I just stood there and prayed over the students and the invitation that was about to be presented to them. Caleb, a missionary and one of our translators, gave the invitation and asked the students to raise their hand if they wanted to be prayed for. Rashelle raised her hand almost immediately as did her friend next to her. They were sitting right in front of me so I walked up to them and tears started to fall. I prayed for her and her friend but was drawn back to Rashelle as she began to weep as I embraced her. After a couple minutes of this I decided to call a translator over so that I could communicate with her because I felt like the Lord was laying something very specific on my heart to share with her. Up until this point I was just praying over her in English. As a translator from our team arrived, I froze. Words would not come out of my mouth and after about a minute of silence, the translator began to talk to her in Spanish. She began to share her story and the struggles she had been going through which went directly along with what I felt God had been laying on my heart to share with her. As the translator led her through a series of questions, she decided to let God come into her heart fully and we spent the next couple minutes just praying together, through tears and a language barrier. I learned a lot through this experience. I learned to TRUST that when God gives you something to say, it’s important and needs to be said. I learned not to question the opportunities that the Holy Spirit gives you. I learned to recognize the schemes of the enemy and not to take people’s actions at face value; there is ALWAYS a deeper reason. I learned how to implement constructive criticism from leaders and humble myself in receiving it. I now know why there was chaos in the room from the very beginning: Satan was trying to disrupt what God was going to do. I now know that the Lord led me to the back of the room so that I could pray with Rashelle. I now know that God brought our team to this school so that students would enter into relationship with Him. This was by far one of my favorite moments and biggest privileges on the trip. God entrusted me with His children and allowed me to physically hold them in my arms as they wept and sought His comfort and healing. What a beautiful representation of what He does with and for us.
What was your biggest take away from the trip?
I’ve been asked this many times since I’ve been back. It took me a little bit to figure it out, but I would without a doubt say that God really changed my prayer life. I saw the power of prayer in ways I have never experienced before. We saw people delivered. We saw communities come together. We saw the Church work together to love on its community. We saw God fight on behalf of the government and win battles they were fighting. We saw God literately stop a battle mid fight because of prayer. We saw prayer usher in miracles. Prayer changed the circumstances but more importantly it changed us.
In the beginning of the trip I was originally going to be part of the team that painted nails for the outreach days. As I was sitting and talking to Luisa I was asking God for opportunities on this trip to be able to pray for people and be involved in ministry through prayer. Not even 5 minutes later one of our team members came over and asked if I would join the “ministry team” for a couple minutes while she took a break. The “ministry team” was simply the team who prayed for the people before they left the event or outreach. Everyone who came to the outreach was prayed for, which I thought was amazing. Being a part of this team really encouraged me and strengthened my faith. I was surrounded by a couple older women who really poured into me, not only through their fervent prayers for others but by their intentional encouragement to me personally. My desire for prayer, with our Father and with others, has really grown. It’s almost like a fire has been ignited in me. I think it has always been here but comparison stole my joy and convinced me to hide it.
I will never forget the words Wendy (whom I greatly admire spiritually) spoke to me after I sat in prayer with them. “I need you next to me. You need to be praying with me.” In that moment she saw something in me that I was choosing not to see or couldn’t see for myself. But it instilled a confidence in me that I have never had before. When someone you admire and respect sees something in you, it just does something to you. It ignited a fire inside of me to become the prayer warrior God designed me to be. I came back with a boldness and a courage I haven’t had before. I came back wanting to fight in prayer for those around me and to ask my Father boldly and shamelessly to move in and through us.
Light in the darkness
That is who you are You are here
Touching every heart
I worship you
You are here
Healing every heart
I worship you
You are here
Turning lives around
I worship you
You are here
Mending every heart
I worship you