Reflection, Rest and Re-entry
It's hard to believe that we are flying home tomorrow. This week has gone by so quickly and we are filled with emotions as we prepare to say good bye. Today we spent the day relaxing and enjoying God's creation at a rental house on the beach. David Hughes, the youth pastor for The Village Church of Irvine, has done an incredible job leading our devotions each morning. Today he challenged us to remember how Jesus rested in the midst of unending needs. He also encouraged the team to spend the day processing and reflecting on all that we experienced this week. Throughout the day I saw many people sharing stories of their week together, crying and reminiscing over the life changing moments of the trip. We also had opportunities at the beach to encourage and pray over our missionary partners.
At the end of the day we sat on the patio as Kurt and Susan Ackermann, our missionary partners and founders of "Sus Hijos", shared the testimony of God's calling to El Salvador. Their stories of sacrifices, struggles and immense joys were nothing less than inspiring and it has truly been a privilege to serve alongside them this week.
We finished the day enjoying a traditional El Salvadorian pupusa dinner at a restaurant nestled in the hills of San Salvador with a stunning city view. We enjoyed dancing to mariachis, trying new food and laughing and reflecting with our new El Salvadorian brothers and sisters. We have only been here for one week, but the relationships that we have formed will never be forgotten.
It is hard to believe that this is my seventh trip to El Salvador. Every team has been unique as I have watched God work powerfully in the life of each team member. This week I have observed teenagers caring intimately for children with special needs. I have watched a doctor and nurse lovingly nurture others. I have seen an American home builder come alongside a humble Salvadorian man, strategizing and sweating with him as they labored together. I have listened to the women on our team share stories of healing from victimization with teenage girls who have been taken advantage of, abused and forgotten. Their redemptive stories brought immense hope and comfort. I have loved watching each team member step "out of their comfort zones" in serving the impoverished, orphaned, homeless and abandoned.
Our team has been reading David Platt's book, "Radical" as part of the trip. In chapter 1, David asks these piercing questions:
"Do we really believe Jesus is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying, and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in him? Here we stand amidst an American dream dominated by self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, by individualism, materialism, and universalism. For the sake of more than a billion people today who have yet to even hear the gospel, I want to risk it all. For the sake of twenty-six thousand children who will die today of starvation or a preventable disease, I want to risk it all. For the sake of an increasingly marginalized and relatively ineffective church in our culture, I want to risk it all."
Needless to say, we have encountered deep suffering this week as we have served impoverished communities and orphanages. We have been challenged by the gratitude, contentment and joy that we have encountered in the midst of poverty. We have also been provoked with the awareness of the privileges and resources that God has given us as Americans. As we return home tomorrow, we are challenged to live differently in light of all that we have experienced. Please pray for our re-entry. Ask questions. Listen. Look at photos. Learn from the experiences that God has given us.