I've been home fromfor about ten days now, and it's been nice to be able to reflect on the journey...the amazing people we met, the interesting sights (and smells), and the blessed memories that will not soon leave my mind.
I've also been able to upload some photos to ShutterFly.com. I'm new to online photo sharing, so I hope it works OK. Below are the site and password if you're interested.
Password: Emma (my middle name).
One of the first things my roommate asked when she saw me was, "What is one thing you learned while you were in?" My response: "That the rest of the world is not like the US!" Having travelled internationally herself, she smiled, nodded, and agreed. And how true it is. There are so many things that were different in (no toilet paper, the crazy driving, the dust and animals everywhere, etc.), but yet the opportunity to spread the gospel abounded and God blessed this work. Although there were differences, the people with whom we interacted, particularly those in the church, were so wonderful! They welcomed us into their lives, and we were able to share in the blessing of Christian fellowship with them.
One thing that stood out to me as we stopped inand have now returned home is the mindset of people in . Wherever we went, people wanted to help -- they weren't focused on possessions or themselves. It was so refreshing to see compared to the materialism and self-centered attitude of Americans. This was quite evident in the church. They didn't have much -- maybe no roof on the church building, probably not a fancy sound system, and certainly not an organ! -- but they have our Savior God and His holy Word. And they join in praising Him together and share that good news of Christ with others!
For the video that Rick is putting together for the trip, I answered the question, "Why is the Mission Helper Trip (MHT) important?" I think most people (including myself originally) mostly think of the evangelism to non-Christians when they think of the MHT. And that is important, of course. As Pastor O. said, it's the main purpose of our trip. But there is much more than that. I hadn't realized it before being there, but our time spent inwas extremely encouraging to the Christians who are there. More than once we were thanked for giving of our time, money, and safety to go to . They were incredibly appreciative! And as much of an encouragement as we were to them, in some ways I felt like we were getting more more encouragement being with them...seeing their simple and "childlike" faith, but also great and strong faith. It was such a blessing!
So what have I learned from my trip to? I've learned that God, people, and relationships are much more important than material goods; that it's nice to be part of a community and to share things. I've learned that God's love and salvation truly is for all people of all nations, regardless of race, color, class, or situation. I know without a doubt that God is always with us and keeps us in His loving care, no matter where we are in the world.
As my life returns to "normal" I continue to pray for my Christian brothers and sisters in, who are now more than just random names to me and who, I hope, are people whose stories you feel you know a little better now, too. Please continue to remember them in your prayers, that God would bless their lives and the work they do -- that more people would come to Christ and receive the blessed gift of salvation which we have!
Blessings in Christ,