FRIENDS! I am home from Central America (I have been for about nearly 4 weeks now, but I am the Q U E E N of procrastination, and also have been putting off writing this since there is a 99.9% chance I WILL cry doing so). I have no clue where to begin with this, but holy moly God has seriously been moving in my life not only during the mission trip, but also since I touched down in the States.
So- WHERE to begin? I guess I’ll just share week by week.
Night before (critical information): June 18, night before I left. Drove my friend, Abby home from church service to have one last jam session, got home, and stayed awake. As I stayed awake longer and longer, I began doubting myself. I was doubting God’s plan for my life. “Why did I sign up for this?” “Why did I get so far with this? It was just an idea.” “Your whole summer is basically gone.” “What if you don’t become close with your team? You don’t even know these people.” All of these thoughts consuming my brain at 12 AM made me cry myself to sleep. About an hour later, I woke up to my alarm to get up and leave (5 AM flights aren’t terrible with Boston Stoker coffee).
*****Before you all read this, I want to explain exactly what I did this summer. We did training/mission work in El Salvador for the first 3 weeks, then went to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to do mission work. Each day we would do “programs” which are basically like Vacation Bible School shrunk down to 45 minutes-1.5 hours. We would do songs, dances, skits, play with the kids, and then evangelize. Also at every program, we would pray for salvation, healing, and problems the kids faced in their homes and lives.
Week 1: Boot Camp. My team all became so close, even just in the 2 hours from the airport to the camp at Lago de Coatepeque in El Salvador. During bootcamp, we had a whistle. Wherever you were at, no matter what you were doing, when the whistle blew- you ran to it (basically instilling a fear of going to the bathroom for the whole week). This means sleeping with tennis shoes and your backpack (or as my lovely friend from Lousiana calls it, a book sack—- weird right?). We would do insane workouts in a program called ELITE, and would do tons of devos and memorizing bible verses. Sounds absolutely awful, right? At the time, I would say yes. But looking back, I couldn’t have done the trip without bootcamp. This whole week really helped me to learn how to rely on God’s strength and not my own. Our saying this week was: With God, ALL things are possible.
Week 2: After graduating the first week of bootcamp (Yes there is more, but that’s next week), we went up in the mountains of El Sally on the border of Honduras in the department of Chalatenango. With a bagillion cattle truck rides up and down the mountains, you really learn how to appreciate a view. This local team in Chalatenango was absolutely amazing. I still Facetime with one of my friends from there occasionally! A specific program I remember is when we went to Honduras (likes I said, right on the border of Honduras). This school was HUGE, and so many of the kids accepted Jesus, and loved on us so much. Another program on this day was at a high school in a classroom of about 35+ students. Teenagers are a bit harder to minister to simply because our programs are MADE for kids. However the pastor in the city we stayed at in Chalatenango (San Fernando), Jonathan, is SO talented at connecting teenagers to the Gospel. That day, every student and teacher in that room was prayed over, and so many o them accepted Christ. This team will always be in my heart, and I really hope to return here one day and see them all again.
Week 3: Yes, more boot camp back at camp in Santa Ana. However, Master’s Commission (an Assemblies of God bible school) started their boot camp, so we got rid of our whistle so there wouldn’t be any confusion 🙂 This boot camp was a little less intense, focusing more on the spiritual side. We got to intercede for 2 hours in a prayer tower on campus, as well as take lots of classes that taught effective evangelism and ministry. One specific day, we went up the mountain on the lake we were staying on and prayed for the people in this community. We would just go door to door and pray for people or do things they needed help with around their houses. We came across a man who was paralyzed on the left side of his body, and after we prayed over him, HE WAS HEALED!!! PRAISE GOD!
Week 4: BELIZEEE!!! WHAT. A. COUNTRY. This was by far the most beautiful place I had ever been to, as well as one of the funnest teams ever. In Belize they speak English, Spanish, and Creole. It was a fun guessing game trying to figure out what language the kids all spoke. It was such a diverse country, with Hispanic, white, black, and even Taiwanese people. While this week was filled with lots of programs, sweating, snorkeling, and playing “guess where the rich old gringos live”, there was one specific program I will NEVER forget. We were at a little market/ central town area. After doing our program, we were playing with the kids, when a few people from my team found a girl sitting in the corner. Her mom said she had a brain tumor a few years ago, and when she had the surgery to remove it, it left her with a brain delay and blind to the point of not even being able to see light. We prayed over her, and prayed more and more. Her mom had no faith that she would be healed because missionaries have prayed over her before, however we knew she would be healed. After the third time praying, she started rubbing her eyes. So we held her hands and walked her over to where our program was. We held up a red soccer ball and asked what color it was, and she told us RED! And then we showed her more things like a green shirt, and she told us what colors they were! It brought a tear to my eye. God showed up that day and showed up in this girl’s life so evidently.
Week 5: For only 2 days, we went to Guatemala. We only did 2 programs, but they were both so fun! There isn’t King’s Castle (the Assemblies of God organization I worked with) in Guatemala, so we were trying to help establish it there. The church and community was so fun and nice. We did a program in a large local park in the capital, and had a BLAST with the kids! We then went to Honduras, and spent about 4 days there. The team there was fun, and we did LOTS of programs. There was one program at a high school that really sticks out. While praying with some teenagers at a high school, a girl on my team named Anne Marie (the same one that says Book sack) and I prayed over a girl who was crying. It turns out her mom passed away, and since then she had been self harming and felt so depressed (she didn’t directly tell us this, but we saw the scars on her arm, and you could just see in her eyes). We prayed with her, and reminded her how God will always be with her no matter what, and that she should run towards Him, because He will catch her with arms wide open if she does.
Week 6: Nicaragua/ El Salvador. I finally got to return back to my beloved country of Nicaragua. I got to have my same leader as last year (Karen <3), and got to play spoons every night with old friends and new friends. Arriving at about 1 am in Managua, my best friend from my team, Elizabeth and I woke up (we were the only ones that had been to Nicaragua before). When driving around, you could FEEL the spiritual warfare. You just felt heavy being there. Later this week we encountered a woman and prayed for liberation after she had been messing with witch craft for the last 5 years. With all of the spiritual warfare and poverty, I prayed going in that God would break my heart more than ever for these people- and He did. One program on the first day, I noticed that a ton of kids didn’t even have shoes. I bent down to tie my $5 shoes from Walmart, and just felt so GUILTY for having shoes. I felt like I couldn’t even be with these kids without feeling like I had so much more than them, without feeling like I was doing something wrong because I had shoes. We then went back to El Salvador, had 2 free days (spent jumping off waterfalls and going to a black sand beach), then we worked in the King’s Castle church with their kids programs.
***Keep reading, I’m almost done I promise 😉
Leaving this team and this country was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I cried practically the whole day at the airport, and coming “home”. I say home because to be quite honest, I haven’t felt at home since I’ve been back. My heart is down there now. While I love my friends and my family, I know where my heart is. But God has taught me tons of things, some being:
- Rely on God’s strength, and seek after it. You can’t do life without it
- GOD HAS A PLAN AND IS NOT SCARED TO SCREW UP YOURS (this story is very long and will be coming soon to a blog post)
- Be thankful for what you have
- God shows up when you least expect it.
While in Nicaragua one evening, Elizabeth and I were playing spoons with the nationals. Three other people on my team suggested a worship night, so we went over 20 minutes later. They asked if anyone had prayer requests, and without thinking I said that I was feeling so discouraged that I was the only one that had never been baptized in the Holy Spirit on my team. For those who aren’t necessarily involved with AG or King’s Castle, a huge thing that Assemblies of God believes is the baptism of the Holy Spirit (also with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues). In the bible (mainly in Acts), they talk about how you can be baptized in water, but also by the Holy Spirit. Here, at 11 PM, by a small fountain in Nicaragua with some worship music playing on a phone, and 3 of my friends, I had one of the most amazing spiritual moments of my life. I didn’t need to be at a huge youth conference, or in a prayer service with dozens of people praying over me, or at a church service, because God will meet you where you’re at.
We would go into programs, sometimes hoping for a huge miracle to happen, and it wouldn’t there. The miracles happen when we don’t expect it. God moves not on our timing, but HIS TIMING.
Thanks to all who have prayed for me, supported me, and read this far 🙂 I will be posting a lot more about my journey, but college starts Monday! I love y’all, prayers and blessings ❤