In August 2010, four young adults participated a mission trip to Romania to work at a summer camp as part of Lehigh Presbytery’s ongoing partnership with the Hungarian Reformed Church in Romania. Read all of their entries.
Depart Budapest to Return Home
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.
~ Zechariah 4:6b
Soon you will be ending your mission and heading home. It has been a time of discovery, living out your faith in community, serving and loving others and wondering if you made a difference. What will you do with what you have learned? Remember: God often uses us in our weaknesses and not in our strengths as He gently guides us to the next steps.
Twenty years ago I was asked to take two summer interns to Costa Rica and prepare for a short term mission team of 17 arriving two weeks later. I knew very little Spanish. I certainly wasn’t qualified or had any particular training, just a strong desire to go somewhere other than the Supermarket or Kmart. One intern on the airplane asked me to hold his ticket so he wouldn’t lose it. I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into for a month. I had only been to this community once, a year earlier! What did I know about supervising mission interns? What was I thinking when I had said yes? Doubts filled my mind.
The home where I stayed had an 18 year old college student living with his mother and stepfather. He seemed angry I was there. I was probably sleeping in his bed. He had to work weekends at a bakery for the bus fare to get to classes during the week. His mother had said I was a missionary from the United States. He thought I just wanted a cheap vacation. I couldn’t preach. I didn’t know the language. What kind of missionary was that?
My second night I pulled out a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle and began showing the family how to put pieces together….no language needed. Slowly, he became involved. We applauded when someone fitted in a piece. It was obvious no one had ever done this before. We started with the border, we searched the floor for missing pieces, and we looked at the photo of a beautiful western mountain scene pointing to the colors. We spent hours together, smiling, laughing and sharing.
Our interns asked him to help them plan for our team and he was surprised. All the North Americans he had ever met never would have asked for help. He became good friends with the young male intern.
A year later when I returned to Tirrases he had switched his major from Accounting to English. We talked more deeply that second visit. He was eager to use his new language skills. He was chosen to come to Bethlehem for an internship to prepare groups from his congregation for our international church to church partnership. He grew even more as he stayed in my home, called me Mom, and was loved and mentored by many at our church.
Today, my Tico son Max and my intern Jeff work as full time missionaries. Looking back on that summer I realize now that it had God’s fingerprints all over it.
When people ask me what was the most important thing I ever did on a short term mission I tell them I put together a puzzle!
A smile, a relationship, a willingness to let God use you here or there, wherever He plants you is all that is required. No special talent or training necessary. Just be open to the Holy Spirit and just be you.
Some words from Mother Theresa
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, just feed one.”
“Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.”
Personal Reflection: Take time to think about the people you have met. Pray for them.
When were you the most joyful this mission? What touched your heart?
How can you share your experience with others?
How can you use this experience in the future?
Jan Marsh, Elder
First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem
Lehigh Presbytery Worldwide Ministries Care Team
They have all arrived home safely.
Thank you for your prayers during their travels.