In January of 2017 the Lord gave me a word, content, I didn’t think much of it as I felt that I was content with what I had been given, and content in my life and wasn’t seeking anything beyond the blessings in front of me. Easy peasy.
January 29th I signed up for my first international mission trip. The trip consisted of a group of medical professionals traveling to an orphanage. They wanted a photographer to capture their work. I would have to come up with the funds as this was a volunteer gig. The call was for the greater good and this was a seed the Lord had planted in me 10 years ago, an opportunity to capture the work of a mission team. The team, which spanned from 6 different states, was going to an orphanage in Guatemala(The Eagle’s Nest). I would be the only one from Kansas and I didn’t know anyone on the team, but, the orphanage was were my nephew had been adopted from in 2005. Guatemala closed down adoption to the USA around 2008.
Content…. in His abilities to provide opportunities.
In preparation for the trip I saved money from a few of my photo sessions to make my first deposit. As the second deposit came due, I was a bit nervous about having enough money, but I made a payment on faith that God would provide somehow, if not, then I probably shouldn’t go. 2 days after I made the “on faith” payment I received a print order for quite a few of my nature photos, enough to cover the entire second deposit! My husband and a few others felt called to donate money as well, yes I said husband, he runs a HVAC business and had been putting funds back to gift me… he truly is the sweetest man. The last and final amount was due and my local church donated the rest of the funds to the organization(The Orphan Door) and it was a done deal.
I’m reluctant to share this but I think I need to. in December of 2016 our daughter decided she wanted to go on a mission trip to Guatemala as well, with the local church youth. After interviews and being accepted to go on the trip she began her process to prepare for the trip to the same orphanage that I would be going to 2 weeks earlier. When our daughter signed up for the trip I had no idea that the opportunity for me to go was even in the cards. I knew I couldn’t go with the youth team as I had already booked a wedding to photograph the weekend they left. On January 15th her seed money was due. I felt it within my spirit to pay for more than just my daughter’s seed money, I paid not only our daughter’s but others as well. 2 weeks later I signed up to go to Guatemala on complete faith that the Lord would provide a financial way for me to go…… He did.
Content… in God’s abilities to provide funds…. The Lord funded my trip and my daughter’s trip, among many others.
In preparation for the trip, my goal was to prepare my heart to be broken, for I knew observing poverty would be hard for this mercy heart. The Lord spoke whispers over and over to me that my job was to observe the blessings in the hard, dark places, to SEE HOPE. One journal I had prior to leaving was this, “Shining bright is not a controlled burn, let the fire burn bright. (References: John 1:5, Matt 4:16, Ps 27:1, Rev 21:23) Be a light, trust Him, and then this:
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:7-8 NLT
Leading up to the trip, our family had quite a bit of chaos, approximately 3 months of chaos. Teenage struggles mostly and work overload. The one thing I realized when I got to Guatemala was that my struggles were not that big, although they felt big at the time, they really were not.
Content… in His abilities to change perspective.
I had never flown in a plane by myself, yes, 41 years old and have always flown with someone I knew. Not only was I flying alone to Houston but I had never been to the Houston airport and I was meeting up with strangers. As you can imagine I was a bit fearful and nervous about this. 5AM I got on a plane from KC to Houston. I sat down next to a couple and decided that if I’m out of my comfort zone I mine-as-well attempt to make a friend. As I started speaking to the lady next to me she shares with me that she has been on 14 mission trips and was on her way to Honduras for a month. She had been in the Houston airport numerous times and was willing to walk me to my gate so I made it on time. We were a bit worried I might miss my flight as I barely had an hour to get to my gate and our flight was rerouted due to weather, we were running late. With no back up plan in place I went on faith and told her I was just going to trust God that he would get me there on time. Little did we know that the plane flew into the International terminal and it was a hop, skip and jump from where I needed to go. I gained a friend and a prayer warrior.
Content… in His abilities to provide guidance.
The next flight was upon me and now it was time to meet the team. My prayer on the plane was, “Let me see what you want me to see, help me to capture life, love, whatever you deem, even the hard stuff if necessary. Protect my family as I am away, and always. Please let all the luggage and travels on to the orphanage go well. Protect us Lord and guide us to be the hands and feet of you. Amen”
Stepping off of the plane
Overwhelmed is the word that comes to mind once in Guatemala City, as I was removed from the USA box. So much poverty, pollution, trash, yet in all of that, beautiful crops come forth and smiles of laughing children and a young boy stops to smile as he sees the camera. I am thankful, but I am ashamed. I am blessed yet humbled at this level of poverty. I asked the Lord to forgive me for not knowing my abundance. My problems are so small. Once out of the box, you can’t look at life the same. When I came back to the states I didn’t realise the effect it would have on me. I cried when I washed my hands in the bathroom sink and could brush my teeth with clean water. I cried in the gas station bathroom because it was clean and had toilet paper. I cried in the grocery store over the multitude of choices. I cried looking across the parking lot of a hotel, it was so clean. I could see the abundance and blessings over America. I had never seen it this way before. The resounding observation that I had while there was that many people in Guatemala are completely content with little, they would give away to their family and friends without a second thought. At the orphanage they served lunch to the children in high poverty, it was called “Manna”. One of my team members saw a child sneak out part of their meal and share it with their mother waiting for them outside.
Content… in the abundance He provides.
Over the next 5 days I witnessed 16 people who had never worked together before, most of us were strangers that came together, each with their own gifting. We loved on these kids and organized and worked together like a well oiled machine. Exams were done, classes were taught, life was shared together, relationships were built, prayers were said and some how God made all of us feel as if we had known each other for years at the end of our week. It was an absolute honor and miracle to witness.
Content… in His ability to bring the hands and feet of Christ together to serve.
Throughout the days at the orphanage, many of us fought colds, toothaches, stomach bugs or even just bugs in general! Many of us faced fears of illness or emotional battles within or felt spiritually unsettled, yet we all got there safely and we all got home safely as we felt the protection of the Lord among us. We witnessed special needs children who had come leaps and bounds in their health. The team came up with plans to help others who may still be struggling physically or in other ways. Many times we see healing as only a physical aspect, but healing can be emotional, spiritual or physical… We joined together and prayed for each other, for the kids, for others outside the walls and the presence of God was felt.
Leaving was hard…. yet many of us felt that saying goodbye was temporary… for many will be coming back. So we trust the Lord in his ability to protect His children and bring restoration and healing in mind, body and spirit.
Content… in His protection and healing.
The 3 things that resonated over and over with our team was this:
Our Brokenness, God’s Calling, Our Obedience
Content… in our journey, His will and His abilities through us.
If you feel called, be obedient to it and be content in all of HIS abilities, not your own.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
Isn’t God amazing?! Blessings.