By Emily Candee
When I decided to go on a short-term mission trip, I was ready to conquer the world. With great intentions and high ambitions, I wanted to impact the life of every child I met. During my one week trip, I was going to change the world!
Fortunately, God used other people and an amazing book called When Helping Hurts to teach me about the true meaning of a short-term mission trip before I left. I came to realize that a short-term mission trip is part of a larger plan for the specific community being helped.
There are people who have taken the time to form meaningful relationships enabling them to fully understand the community’s specific needs, culture and worldview. The root causes of a community’s issues are understood through those bonds, which allows processes to be implemented to stop poverty, broken families and other issues before they start.
I learned that my job on a short-term mission trip was to continue to plant the seeds to create lasting change in the hearts of the people being served. I knew I might get to see some of the fruit from the seeds I helped sow, but chances were high that it would be years before the “results” were witnessed. Instant gratification, although nice, was not the goal.
At the government-run orphanage in Guatemala, I was fortunate to see the fruit of the seeds someone had sowed before me and it was my prayer that I continued to plant seeds not only with this particular child, but all the other children God brought into my life during my trip.
While making heart puppets with the 3- to 5-year-old boys during Vacation Bible School, a boy named Victor sat in my lap. I gave him a hug and I could see the love he felt radiate from his brown eyes. I knew that may be the only hug he received that day, so I held him for a while and let him sit in my lap while he finished his puppet.
Thanks to the many years of grade school and high school Spanish, I was able to asked Victor (in my Texas drawl), “Dónde está Jesús?”
Victor stopped coloring his puppet, put down his marker, pointed to the sky and said, “Jesús está en el cielo.”
Chills covered my body and tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to 3-year-old Victor tell me that Jesus is in heaven. Through his answer, Victor revealed the seeds that had been sown by someone before me – someone who may never hear those words from Victor’s mouth. That person had sown seeds of Christ and His love in that child.
The true meaning of a short-term mission trip had been revealed to me in that moment. It was clear that God’s work is not about me, not about my agenda and not about seeking instant gratification; rather, I was to continue to plant seeds and strengthen the foundation that had been started by those before me so that others down the road may witness the work God is doing in Victor and all of God’s other children.
Although I initially wanted to conquer the world during my short time in Guatemala, I am thankful for moments, like the one with Victor, where I got to see the work God was doing in the hearts of those He loves.
Emily Candee went on a Shoes for Orphan Souls mission trip to Guatemala in June 2012. To learn more about going on a mission trip with Shoes for Orphan Souls, click here.