God Is in Control
By Anne Churchill, member of the 2016 Nicaragua Mission team.
I have always wanted to go on an international mission trip and after REACH 2015, I knew I had to go somewhere. The list of 2016 mission trips came out and my heart was pulled towards Nicaragua and the Hope Project. I had heard Farrell Burton, founder of the Hope Project, speak at REACH and was captivated by his stories and wanted to learn more about the work he does in Nicaragua. I signed up for the trip, God provided the money, and I was on my way.
I was ready. Our team had the supplies we needed. My suitcase was packed. I had prayer warriors back home. I was prepared for the culture difference. I was prepared for the poverty I was going to see. I was prepared to say yes to whatever God asked of me and of my team. I thought I was 100% ready.
But our first day serving with the Hope Project was so hard for me. I thought I was 100% ready, but I found myself in an unfamiliar place surround by an unfamiliar language and relying on others to transport me, speak for me, and provide my food. I was not prepared for the helplessness I felt. I am usually a very independent person and don’t like relying on others. The frustration and fear of being helpless overshadowed the experiences I was having on my trip.
As I was processing these feelings, a story Farrell told came to mind - the founding of Samaritan’s Feet (another organization that attended REACH 2015). A man gave a boy a pair of new shoes and a word of encouragement. Years later that boy remembered the gift of shoes and decided to do the same for people around the world. 13 years later, Samaritans Feet has touched millions of lives all over the world all because a man gave a boy a simple pair of shoes.
That was God’s whisper, reminding me that he is in control. It didn’t matter that my Spanish was terrible. It didn’t matter what the translators thought of the prayer I was saying. It didn’t matter that I was the Gringo that stuck out like a sore thumb. It didn’t matter that I was bad at winging it. God was in control of the situation and he will control what people remembered.
I can’t control what people think, but I can control what I say yes to. I can control how much effort I put into a project. I can control my reactions to God’s calling. If God calls me to wash the feet of a child that is crying and doesn’t understand my words of comfort, I can do that. If God calls me to paint an elderly lady’s fingernails just to show her someone is paying attention to her, I can do that. If I need to build a bunk bed without blueprints, I can do that (with the help of my team). If God calls me to stand in the middle of chaos while children do crafts, I can do that.
Will these things change a life? Maybe, maybe not. But God will take care of that. I just have to say yes. If he calls, he will give me the strength.
That reminder changed the rest of my trip. Instead of counting down the days, I was sad about the days that had passed. I was not (as) worried about what people around me thought of what I was doing. I tried to jump in with both feet and handle things as they came. And that allowed me to see more of what was happening around me. The people the Hope Project serves are poor and live in situations we cannot imagine. But these same people show love with abandon. They have strong faith and find hope in the worst circumstances, and they changed the way I think.
I am so blessed to have been able to partner with the Hope Project as they provide simple solutions every day. I am so blessed for the lessons God taught me. I am so blessed to have served with my team. I am so blessed to have the memories I take from this trip. I pray I never forget my experiences.