Taking a quick break from design to share some thoughts...
I have believed my entire adult life that if you have "more" (time, money, resources, space, love...) in your life, you have an obligation to give some of it away. If you aren't religious, think of this as the whole "paying it forward" phenomenon. I believe that our highest calling is to help others, so if we have been blessed to be able to do that it is because God trusts you to pay it forward. It doesn't mean you are more deserving, or are a better person, by any means...it just means He is trusting you with His resources. My husband and I try to live our lives this way; with a spirit of generosity. We try to be generous with our love, our time, our resources, our house, our wisdom (or the whole, learn from our mistakes principle), our money. We take our "wealth" with a social responsibility to pass it on.
For a long time, we were at a church that was growing. As it grew, so did the need to take what they had and give it away throughout our community and the world at large. Micah 6:8 calls us to Do justice, Love mercy, and to Walk humbly before God. That is a motto our church soon embraced as they embarked on more short term mission trips. And I am grateful to have been a part of that growth in the church. I know that there has been a growing trend in communities of churches to go on and participate in short term mission trips, but I feel like if I had walked into this church with all of it's mission work intact already, I may have been too scared to participate. Instead, it seemed like a natural progression of our faith. I got to see it from the beginning, and I found myself hungry to participate.
For me, my first (totally unofficial) mission trip came when I was a Sophomore in high school. I went to Mexico with a group of girls from my school. I remember painting a house in the relentless heat, and digging for a well. I also remember learning about poverty. Not US poverty, but real 3rd world type poverty. It was a shocking experience that stayed with me. But that was the extent of my exposure to missions.
I have served in so many areas of our church. By far, my greatest love has been to serve teenagers. You read that right, I have such a deep heart and love for teenagers. It's that age that most parents dread...but for me, it's pretty magical. Sure, there's drama and tantrums and irrational behavior, but most of us don't ever really grow out of that anyway. There is also discovery, empowerment, love-gosh teenagers aren't jaded yet!-and a thirst for knowledge. Teenagers are fun, they are weird, they are crazy, they are opinionated but easily swayed, and they are smart and perceptive while being totally self involved. And I think it's pretty amazing. That is why I work with them. That is why I love on them. That is why I talk to them, stretch their world view, listen to them. And I take mission trips with them.
In 2014 I got to take a trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of my students. Most of them were Seniors by then, and I had been their small group leader for three years. It was an amazing experience to be able to serve with them and love on them. They all have different stories and backgrounds, but they all have a heart for serving God.
Today, I am leaving for a short trip to Tijuana to love on some kids in Mexico. I am going with a new group of high school girls. I haven't been with these girls for that long, but I am excited to get to know them this weekend. I also get to see my 14 year old in action on this trip (last year she helped build a house in Mexico over spring break). And I get to humbly be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I believe in 1Peter 4:8 (message version here) "Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!" Love is what binds us together in this world. And in this heated climate that is the US, it is what will unite us again. There are no walls in God's kingdom. We are loved because we are created by a loving God. We are called to love the way he did. And this weekend, I am humbled by the chance to do just that.
**The picture is my oldest on the left (she was 14 then, almost 17 now), Shyra-one of the sweetest girls you will ever meet, and me with super short hair. My oldest has been on four trips now (2 to the DR, Belize, and No Ireland), and is hoping to do another one in Poland this summer.