I am on the receiving end of short-term mission trips. Now, I am the host for these energetic teenagers seeing the other side of the world for the first time in a 2-week intensive experience. And wow, what a joy they are!!
I’ve heard all the arguments about the danger of short-term mission trips and I’ve even felt the guilt about going on them myself. I wondered if I was just taking work away from the locals or imposing on their system that works quicker without my interruption. I wondered if the money I was raising to go would be better used if I just wrote them a check. But now that I am on the side of the host country with mission teams visiting “my people” and these kiddo’s, I can honestly say they are so needed for our health and vitality as individuals and as an organization. It’s not always about the money or “getting the job done”; we live for relationship, and the ones we make with our visiting friends breathe new life into our spirits.
For me, the first week and a half of life in Nairobi were full of change, questions responded to with ambiguous answers leading to even more doubt, and numbness. I hoped it would improve with time since I am committed to a year, but God wanted to show up quickly so He could show off!
Cue the arrival of 10 hyper high schoolers and their 3 amazing chaperones, as well as the sweet Simply2Love team of 4 ladies! Over 11 days, we all became close friends, and I’m so happy to have 17 new friends praying and supporting CCP from California. It makes a HUGE difference to see the faces in our context who have said they support us. Their actions speak loud; they stepped out in faith to raise support and leave their families and friends for 2 weeks to do life with us in Nairobi! We laughed and cried and sang and danced together! We kissed giraffes, bounced along a 6-hour bus detour (a trip that should have been just 2 hours) through the African bush, were cornered by stampedes of orphan elephants, prayed over the sweet kiddo’s of CCP and their families, and ate A LOT of chapati!
Christ heard me in my loneliness, and He sent 17 reflections of Himself to refresh my heart and soul! I have no doubt in my mind now for the need of short-term mission teams. As long as the visitors are seeking God’s will and supporting the host organization with excited and humbled spirits, they are absolutely a help to us. Let this be encouragement to you as you consider going on a mission trip yourself or supporting someone else who is going!
I “checked myself in” for a 3-day private Silent Retreat at a Benedictine Monastery this week. Nestled into the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California, St. Andrew’s Abbey is not necessarily a beautiful location. But the prayers and reverence for God that cover the small acreage bring a tangible peace for retreatants.
As I clipped that badge to my shirt “Shhh, I am on a Silent Retreat”, I focused my heart, mind, and soul on stillness. I wanted to experience Jesus in a new way.
Here are the reflections my time of silence brought:
- Your other senses are enhanced. I smell my surroundings more potently; I taste and enjoy my food more wholly; I hear others’ words but even more seem to tap into what their hearts mean behind the words (probably because I’m not worried about what I have to say in response!); I see because I intentionally open my eyes to be more observant; and I feel deeper emotions as I tune in to what the Spirit is revealing to me.
- It’s extremely challenging at first, but then you begin to enjoy and even revel in it!
- It allows you time and energy to not only ask yourself the big life questions, but to also hash them out. (What is my purpose, what am I here for?)
- Because doing this one thing is out of your comfort zone, it pushes you to do more things out of your comfort zone (like lay prostrate on the floor for an hour in prayer like King David modeled).
- It opens your mind to realize how much you complain and gossip.
- It makes you want to ask people a million questions and just stop talking and listen, despite what “good advice” or knowledge you think you can impart.
- It stirs up old bitterness and resentment you thought you were healed of.
- It causes you to pray. Nonstop.
- You become fully aware of the percentage of your thoughts in any given category. (I.e. Here was 8 minutes wasted in jealousy or given to lust. Half my day was spent in planning (quite in vain) for the future and the other half day-dreaming or contemplating my past, etc.)
- When you adore Jesus, you are humbled to feel HOW MUCH HE ADORES YOU!
- Everyone should try silence for a specific, extended period of time.
- It unsettles others and can make you uneasy to not respond – but in the end it’s a good challenge for both you and them to accept the difference in people.
- It takes a while to still the heart and totally check in to the silence…of the tongue and the soul.
- Perspective becomes clearer.
- Your heart changes. Rather than praying for my way and specific requests, I was asking God to move in hearts, lives, and give His guidance; I was fully surrendering to His will be done and being okay with that.
- You come to a sense of peace in who you are – who He designed and destined you to be. Because suddenly the things of this world grow strangely dim.
- You feel the sense of time more presently. It doesn’t speed by as in a busy day with many appointments, nor does it crawl on endlessly as an unintentionally unfilled day can seem ‘boring’. Every minute is pregnant with purpose, and you feel it as it is.
- People come to mind to pray for you would not have thought of otherwise.
- Jesus breaks chains.
- As the rhythm of life slows, you sleep better.
- You don’t want it to end, but you’re also anxious to bring the insights you’ve discovered back to the real world. (I won’t deny I was chomping at the bit to be home a little 😉 ).
- You drink more water…maybe I just remembered to more often? It happened though!
- It’s a catalyst for change! I want to talk rather than text, I want to live life with people rather than Snapchat my life to them, I want to ask questions rather than gossip or complain.
- It causes reflection on the past – and to ask hard questions.
- It makes you miss mom and dad.
- Once you introduce talking again, your pace immediately increases.
There were many breakthroughs during the 3 days, but I’d say the greatest praise I have was the Spirit’s assurance on my heart to start boldly proclaiming I AM MOVING TO NAIROBI, KENYA IN JUNE! I have been hesitant and timid to tell people for fear that it will fall through if perhaps I was wrong in discerning God’s call for me to go. This week He broke that chain of fear! I am not called to live half-hearted but to walk boldly in the call He’s given me!
I have held back so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if the rug were pulled out underneath me and I ended up not going. It would soften the blow of failure or disappointment. This fear is of the enemy, though, not of God Almighty!! It really did take the silence to name that fear, call it out, and fill the vacancy with the confidence of Christ.
the tall girl
For lack of a better term, we’ll say I’m thrifty. All about the deals, clearance racks, thrift stores, packing a lunch for on-the-go, etc.
L.A. is not a cheap place to live, but that makes finding affordable, fun things to do a constantly changing and challenging adventure!
I wanted to help out my fellow L.A. explorers by putting together a list of unique things to do besides just “Day at the Beach” or “Celebrity Hunting” in Hollywood (which would be a major disappointment, ‘cus you won’t see anyone there.)
Check out LAWeekly for great food trucks.
One of many lists you’ll find on flea markets in the L.A. area.
The Downtown Art Walk should already be in your planner for the second Thursday of the month.
Jazz Night is waiting for you! 6PM every Friday in the summer.
stay lovely (& thrifty!),
the tall girl