Visiting a Friend

     As most of you reading this might not know, the mission trip I left for today was not my only mission trip of the summer. Last weekend I got to go to Mission Houston with my church through a group called Center for Student Missions (CSM). At this mission trip I was able to gain some really great experience to help prepare me for Nicaragua.
Mission Houston Team
     The first thing we did on this trip was go on a prayer tour. We drove around downtown Houston while a CSM leader told us about the needs of the places we passed. It was a major eye opener. My city is so selfish. We cover up the poor and try to send them away, instead of fixing the problem.  While we drove through the rich, partying and modern parts of town I just got such a sad feeling in my heart. This is what the world wants us to strive for? Hanging out with these selfish people who shun the homeless person walking down the other side of the street? No thank you, I'd rather be a Jesus Freak and love on those people, who are unloved, and "want" on those people, who are unwanted.
     The next day we went to two ministry sites. I helped out with a kids' club in an impoverished apartment complex and a kitchen in a rehabilitation mission called Open Door Mission. At the kid's club I learned something that I will always store in my heart for when I work with those who need love.

In the Bus
     When the team and I arrived at the kids' club it was pretty awkward. We wanted to help, so we just bustled around trying to talk to kids, smile at each one, etc. It just wasn't working; the kids stared at us like we were crazy. Once everything calmed down though and each of us got into an assigned job the kids started to come up to us.
     The CSM leader assigned to our team had encouraged us all the night before that, since we would only be visiting these kids for one day, it would be a very good idea to just focus our energy and attention on having a connection with one child instead of trying to have a time with all the children. The analogy the leader used was that we should be a rifle, and not a random shotgun. When we first got there I picked this one girl to focus on, her name was Maria. After an awkward time of trying to talk to her in the beginning I was just about to give up. We all split up into groups. I was assigned to the craft group.
     First to crafts was the youngest group (me, preschoolers, language barriers, glue, scissors, and magazines make for a funny mini-disaster). Then we had the middle aged group, and then finally the older kids that included Maria. To my surprise when she came in she saw me and called me over to come do the craft with her. So, of course, I came and spent the time getting to know her and just hanging out with her.
I don't know why exactly she decided to hang out with me, but I'm thinking it was because I made her feel wanted out of all the other kids there. I chose her.
     I learned something important there, the concept of just hanging out with people you're ministering to. Think of it this way: imagine you are going to visit a friend in the hospital fighting with cancer. You, most likely, don't have any clue what they are going through, much like most of us don't know what impoverished people are going through. When you get there you bustle around trying, in not know what to do, to make your friend more comfortable. "Do you need a blanket?, do you need a pillow?, should I call the nurse?" you ask. In all this what your friend really wants is for you to just sit next to them. To be there for them peacefully so that they know you are truly there for them, to listen, to ask help of, or the cheer up. Just be there.
     Today as I go to be a missionary to Nicaragua for a month I want to keep this in mind. This is how the Lord is wanting me to love these people. To just be there for them. To smile, to hang out with them, to do fun things with, to do special things with, to encourage and sometimes just to sit there with them radiating the peace of God. I am so grateful to God that He would answer my prayers for preparation through that little girl, Maria.It is such a humbling thing to learn from your mistakes 
     I have such a mixture of excitement and nervousness welling up inside of me for the mission trip to Nicaragua. People have been so supportive, it encourages me so much. I feel as if I am encased in prayer as I go on this new adventure. It's a wonderful feeling. God is with me. 
     I found myself worrying about what was going to happen and if God was going to abandon me now that the mission trip is here. God reminded me though that I need to have faith. Right now I'm walking out of the boat, just like Peter, Jesus is holding my hand, do I have enough faith to keep my eyes on Him? 

For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13