Saved to SERVE
November 18th 2011, I embarked on my first mission trip.
Destination: East London, South Africa.
As I sat in that 15 hour plane ride, I couldn’t help but experience a rollercoaster of emotions. At the same time that I was feeling peace and serenity knowing I’d be away from the hectic life in the states for a little while…more specifically, just knowing I wouldn’t have access to my cell phone and email (oh what a feeling), I was also rather nervous. For the longest time, I felt this need and this urgency for me to do more—to travel outside of my comfort zone [pun intended] and serve. I just had that desire to do so. And I always wondered when that time would finally come. You see, along with an able and willing heart, being mentally and spiritually ready for an experience such as this is necessary. I guess, you can say that my time had come.
Not to say that this is the only form of service…not in the slightest. Service comes in ALL shapes and ALL sizes. But to ME, there’s something special about actually stepping out of our bubble, getting uncomfortable to serve a community in need…to be in their space and to actually roll up our sleeves and get to work. That’s intimate…
As I juggled my emotions, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d be exposed to. I’d be witnessing the hardships of a community with my very own eyes. I was looking forward to the people I’d meet and the children I’d play with and fall completely in love with. All I could think of was that I wanted to make an impact…a difference…someway, somehow.
One connecting flight (1.5 hours) away from our final destination and the swarm of emotions seemed to have intensified.
Early morning of November 19th, 2011, we arrive at East London, South Africa. We step out of the plane and all I could now feel was a sense of relief. Already, I didn’t want to leave. I felt an instant connection to that place. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I just felt as though I was in the right place at the right time. _________________________________________________________________
I met amazing people who dedicate their lives to serving God and the people of God. It was an absolute privilege to be around strong and hopeful individuals who, unknowingly, had the power to lift your spirits right up with just their smile.
We visited HIV/AIDS stricken patients who—on medication and bed bound—surprised us all with their strength, energy, encouraging words…hope…and faith.
And when it came to the children…oh, the children; just thinking about them brings me right back. If you know me, you know how much I love kids. Let’s just say, I felt lucky and [incredibly] blessed to be there and felt so humbled to be accepted into their space, with open arms…literally.
Imagine this: You—a stranger—walk into a classroom, full of children who are sitting down working on an assignment, playing or eating (a meal that may be their last of the day) just stop and rush towards you to welcome you with the tightest hug you never thought any child, had the strength to give. That love is something that can’t really be described.
Or how about this: You—still a stranger—visit a school that’s in the middle of nowhere. So in the middle of nowhere that no one knows it actually exists…let alone the kids that attend it. You are in the car, talking, listening to music, when you hear shouts from afar that are loud enough to drain any noise from inside. You look out the window, and that’s when you see it: every single child and adult (teachers), sprint towards your car; smiling, jumping, singing…all genuinely glad and excited to see you…you.
What you may not know is that, these are kids who don’t really know what real love is. The phrase, “I love you” alone, might as well be considered foreign to them. They have so much to give, but no one to give it to. But boy, do they know how to give it. To be on the other side of one of those hugs just…surprises you, makes you speechless, and to be completely honest, it makes you feel like you’re undeserving of such pureness. _________________________________________________________________
While in Africa, my team and I were able to serve a community that is stricken by HIV/AIDS, poverty, neglect, and abuse. What we all genuinely took to Africa, was our servant hearts. What God did with that, well, He used us to bring light to a community. We worked alongside great leaders (servants) on renovation projects (painting, varnishing, power washing, cleaning out gutters, roof work, fixing the draining systems, etc), and interacted with HIV/AIDS patients and many children who were either infected or affected by the virus—each special in their own way yet the same in that they all yearned for warmth and affection.
Each day that passed by, I saw more; I experienced more, and I felt more. I went out to Africa, to serve those less fortunate, with the focus of making an impact; of making somewhat of a difference. I really, really hope I did. One thing is certain, though, I experienced an impact…and it was a life changing one.
And that feeling I referred to in the beginning of doing more? Well, it kind of increased a tad bit. (This is obviously an understatement). _________________________________________________________________
Why must we SERVE?
"It is He who saved us and chose us for His holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was His plan" - 2 Timothy 1:9
God called us to serve. So whether you go overseas/abroad or stay local, go out and make a difference.
*Special thanks to all the amazing people and organizations that were a part of this life changing experience. I love you all.