It’s time for a recap of the mission trip in Ecuador I was on with my church family! After several failed attempts at creating a well written, highly thought through and edited post on everything I learned and experienced in Ecuador, I came to the conclusion that there is no possible way to verbalize exactly everything I learned. So here I go with my imperfect, minimally self-critiqued attempt at sharing with you my experience in Ecuador!
First, God allowed me to see several answered prayers. Some were as small as me being comfortable camping (I had a fear of camping before this trip!), while others were larger and a continuation of daily praying to God to rid me of myself and to glorify Him in everything I do. This was apparent to me in a few ways… For one, a very superficial struggle of mine is being able to love people well whom have not bathed in a while and just overall do not seem clean. I realized God broke me of this while I was playing with a young girl’s hair in the jungle, then realizing I had been hugging and letting the indigenous women kiss me on the cheek. These would usually be big no-no’s for me, but something within me was stirring and changing. Another one, as most of the people close to me know, anyone would very rarely see me out in public in anything less “fancy” than jeans and a V-neck shirt, and I’ll almost always be wearing some make-up. Well, that’s not at all how we dressed in the jungle: basketball shorts, a loose shirt, and no make-up? It didn’t even bother me. I fairly often thought, “Who am I?” (in a good way) but thankfully God allowed me to see that He was working in me.
Something huge I felt was the unexplainable overwhelming joy and peace I felt in watching my teammates have selfless servant’s hearts and so well love everyone we encountered. It was evident that we as a team were dying to ourselves and glorifying our God while serving and loving others. It was an unexplainable joy and peace I felt, the type that I believe can only be given by God. It was a moment I can look back on and say I was in a moment of shalom. Prior to the trip, I had very few times of coming to moments of almost feeling shalom, but had felt like something was missing. In Ecuador, I felt and knew shalom when in feeling the God-given joy of selfless serving. The Holy Spirit was very present.
Also, I learned what it is like to plead in prayer for others. Leading up to Ecuador, I was pleading in prayer for many reasons, most of which were for my own selfish gain. I wanted God to answer my questions, and I wanted Him to answer them in my timing. Well, God is not defined by our circumstances, but He defines our circumstances. He answered my prayers for my life in His timing, which of course was way better than my own timing desire could have been, but first he led me to a place in pleading for others. I learned how to plead in prayer for a group of people I had yet to even meet, then eventually plead while watching them in their village. In my humanness I wanted God to answer my prayers for them while I was there, but I rest and trust in the fact that I know His timing is better than I can imagine. In the mean time, I continue to plead for them and know that He is hearing my prayers. After all, he heard and answered mine.
Here’s the most overwhelming element I learned in Ecuador: the power of redemption and freedom in Christ. My prayer in the couple of months leading up to Ecuador involved me begging God to tell me why He created me the way He did, making me who I am. In my insecurity, I was begging God to reveal to me why I was allowed to walk a path of darkness for a while and to free me of shame that the enemy was using to try to control my life. Guess what, He did! I experienced an overwhelming feeling of freedom in Christ and healing, freeing me of my bondage to shame in my story. His redeeming love is stronger than any love I’ve experienced before. I once again fell in love with my Redeemer and Savior. I am His beloved.
I could keep going on and on about my experience in Ecuador, but I don’t have enough words, nor words adequate enough, to describe how God molded my heart while there. I want to leave you with this: Our God is larger than our human minds can even fathom. He’s larger than you and me. He’s larger than a country, larger than our hurts and pains. He has everything perfectly orchestrated for His glory. We are to delight in Him, and He delights in us. One of my prayers going into, on, and now even after the trip is Psalm 67. I urge you to read it and make it your prayer. “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy…let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”
“As indeed he says in Hosea, ‘Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” Romans 9:25
“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.” Song of Solomon 6:3