After Puerto Rico (Adam’s take)

adamblogPRI have to be a little honest about our trip to Puerto Rico. If it was not for my wife, I may have asked them if I could stay. It was an intense trip that was action packed. We did so many things, and I watched our team grow so much. We were stretched by dancing (which was more fun than I like to let on), we prayed with people, and we just loved on so many.

I’m not always the best at communicating my emotions, but my heart broke in Puerto Rico. One evening we participated in a ministry called Rescate Cenicienta (Rescue Cinderella). This ministry is a prostitute outreach in which we drove around looking for prostitutes and passed out roses to them. We were looking for an opportunity to love on these women and tell them that they are loved and beautiful. We prayed with many of them, and I met a young woman named Sandy. Sandy has been doing this work since she was 12 and is now 20. She has a young child, and is pregnant with her second child. We were able to talk to her, and she even hugged us as she left to go to her next client. Talking to her broke me down. I thought of my wife who is just a little bit further along in her pregnancy than Sandy. I thought of all the children in Kid’Mo and House youth that are the same age as when Sandy started.

It is hard not to get overwhelmed by all the need on a trip like this. It’s easy to look at all the work that needs to be done and get frustrated. But knowing that God is bigger than any situation and circumstance is comforting. I know God is doing a work in Puerto Rico, and I’m glad I got to be a part of what He is doing.

Mission trips are an incredible opportunity for God to transform our lives as we are serving others. I know I am different from this trip, and I hope you would pray about joining us on our next one.

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After the trip

Our guest blogger, Jeff, is back from Puerto Rico. This is the afterword to his post a couple weeks ago…

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Puerto Rico was above and beyond anything I could have expected!
We got to be out on the streets talking to,  praying for, feeding and providing basic necessities of  homeless people.  We spent time sharing the love of God through acts of service for people who couldn’t believe we would accept no compensation.  One day one of our team members was given a used pencil from a women in her 40s who lived under a tarp on the the side of a downtown sidewalk.  This woman looked like any pretty mom that you would see at the grocery store but she was completely trapped by her addictions.  The pencil that she gave was the best item she had to offer.  It was very touching!
We also had the opportunity to speak at churches, in housing projects as well as in a rehabilitation center–all with a mission to express that Jesus gives hope for brokenness, healing for those who are sick and freedom for those who are in a dark place in life.  One day I even got to make balloon animals as some others on our team painted the precious little faces of children in one of the largest housing projects in all of the US.
All that to say–What an amazing experience!  Now… although my heart aches as I miss our team and the people of PR deeply, I guess it’s time to let God use what I saw in Puerto Rico to make a difference right here where I live.
I’ll never forget what I’ve seen!

A girl named Juliet

village girls and unaLast summer my 10-year-old daughter and I trekked halfway around the world to Mozambique, Africa. In the coastal town of Pemba, we stayed in the Village of Joy, one of Iris Ministries’ many bases throughout Mozambique. People from all corners of the world had found their way to this base, which provided support and assistance to the local community as well as a home and school grounds for hundreds of children who, for varying reasons, could not be supported by biological family members.

One of the missions of the base is to provide a meal to local children daily.  Children from nearby villages walked onto the base barefoot in the red Mozambican dust, the older with the younger in tow, carrying containers of varying shapes and sizes so that they could take their leftovers home to the rest of the family. One of these children was Juliet, a quiet 12-year-old who slipped her hand into mine and sat beside me with contentment while many of the other children climbed (quite literally) over my shoulders, yanked my straight, unkinky hair into braids, and grabbed wonderingly at the small digital camera in my purse.

I saw Juliet many times in our two-week stay as my daughter and I served food, but the last time she came to get a meal she had a baby boy wrapped onto her back. “Oh, is this your brother?” I asked her in broken Portuguese while she stood in line to rinse her hands with a pan of water.  “No,” she said, smiling shyly, “My son.”

When I go to bed in the evening and look out into the city-lit night, I am often reminded that there is a girl named Juliet looking up at a very different piece of sky that bursts with the clarity of flaming white stars above her home, most likely a simple hut that is shared with many family members. Thirteen now, she is too old to get a meal with the other children, but she has a child, a toddler now, who she will soon send in her place.

One of the inevitable outcomes of being “on mission” is that the lives and circumstances of our fellow brothers and sisters become undeniable. And while my two-week stay most likely did not make a statistically significant impact on the long-term availability of food or water or peace for many people, I am reasonably sure some children felt my love and the love of God because of my simple actions of service. But beyond that, I am ruined for living my ordinary-Iowa-life by the knowledge that a girl close to the age of my own daughter is raising a child of her own, that a boy I knew lost his father during the floods this past year, and that another 12-year-old boy we befriended was left to find food for himself and his brothers and his sisters while his father and mother worked far away from home for many days. Another conscientious young man who (anachronistically) has access to Facebook at irregular intervals is praying fervently for his school to be outfitted with one computer to enhance communication and education of the students.

This knowledge is as undeniable as my own infant crying for attention. And it begs for my response, mostly prayerful but sometimes monetary and practical. The G.I. Joe public service ads from the 80s quipped, “Knowing is half the battle.” In the case of my mission trip, knowledge has become a responsibility I’m wearing these days like a heavy jacket.

And I’m all right with that. In fact, I think maybe that’s how things are supposed to be.

-HW

Onward to Puerto Rico…

Here are a couple thoughts from our First Impressions coordinator, Jeff McCaughey, as he embarks on a missions trip to Puerto Rico with an Lc team this morning…Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 8.38.49 AM

It’s crazy how time flies!
It seems like last week that my family and I were discussing the possibility of joining the mission team to Puerto Rico this year!   Yet here I am ready to pack and go!

I’ve never been on a trip like this and while I can’t say that I’m nervous, I can say that I’m always a little hesitant when I’m going into a situation where there are more unknowns than knowns.  To be sure, I do not know Puerto Rico, but I guess what keeps me going is that I do know that I have never regretted any trip into the unknown with God.

At the core, yes–He will stretch me and He will challenge me, which is never comfortable, but He will be right there with me–which gets me excited about what’s ahead!

In the end I guess I’d rather live for Him and have some unknowns than live for me and have no adventure!

-JM