Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Greatest Of These Is Love ~ A Short Term Mission Trip Perspective


With 100 or so people who traveled to Ethiopia during the month of June and July with Ordinary Hero, we are all left processing everything we saw, the lives that we touched, 
the hearts and faces that we can't let go of. 

18 yr old, Madison, shares it best in her blog post, which is a common concern from most people when thinking about traveling to Africa and having to deal with the emotion of it...

"One of the biggest lessons I can walk away with from my time spent in Addis is that true and honest emotions will not break or consume me and that God feels things deeper than I could imagine! I always had this almost comical idea that if I felt too deeply, I’d just lose it. I am a person of passion, and even that has frightened me at times, because lets be honest - heart break frightens everyone. God spoke to me so tenderly in Africa, showing me that with Him I can feel whatever I want, and being anchored in Him will keep me safe."

It seems each year, as relationships are built, and team members return from the previous year to see those precious lives that they connected with, it seems to get a little more difficult to say goodbye.

We go into these trips realizing we are there to serve the needy, to shower them with love, 
striving to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  

The thing that gets us EVERY TIME is something VERY POWERFUL! 

It's that LOVE THING!! 

1 Corinthians 13
...if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

We go into this trip ready to shower these kids with love, but we are left with something that none of us can quite expect or be prepared for....

They love us back.

In the midst of what appears to be us walking into situations of great need, children that appear to have nothing materially, and the overwhelming feeling of never having enough, 
we are met with such love overflowing from the people of Africa that it opens our eyes and strikes our hearts like something we have never experienced before. 

26 yr old, Ryan Daly, our videographer and team member, describes it in his blog....


"I can try and express my experience through words, or show you some of the lives I’ve encountered with a video; but to be here, to smell the smells, feel the small hand grab yours, feel the tight hugs, how do you tell someone who hasn’t experienced that what it’s like?

Ordinary Hero’s motto is Change the World for One, I always just saw it as us as Americans helping change the world of a child or family in Africa (and that is very true, that is happening) but this month has shown me that changing the world for one works both ways.

Team members lives have been forever impacted. My life has been forever impacted.

Team meetings have been filled with tears, emotion, broken hearts for the people of Ethiopia and changed worldviews.

In a team meeting someone said something that I never realized in my time here but have many times experienced:

'The kids we are serving don’t just need us to love them, they need someone to love too.'"

That statement has become more and more evident with each trip to Africa. 

There are many people out there that have formed somewhat of a group of what I like to call
"Short-term Mission Trip Haters"
I really hope people don't get so caught up in the "how to's" and the "my way is better than your way" of mission work, and forget the power of simply showing people love. The people we serve need someone to love to. Love is SO POWERFUL. It can transform a person's life in an instant, filling them with hope to make it through another day when they were about ready to give up. We can try to figure out the right and wrong way to do missions all day, but if we do not have love, we gain nothing. When God found us, he met us where we were with his love. I have seen this same love lived out through my teams for the past two months. It is a beautiful, life changing thing to witness. It is so powerful that it changes the lives of those we serve and also the hearts of those who travel from the US, who find themselves experiencing a level of love that they didn't know was in them. 

There is a song called Home, by Kim Walker-Smith, that shows me more and more the realization, that as our hearts connect to these children, it is such a reflection of our relationship with the Lord and how He connects our hearts to His. 
We can't forget what a beautiful thing love is to experience! 
I feel sometimes we take the power of it for granted!

Many of us from these past trips can relate to the words in this song, below, and how our hearts are forever connected to certain children in Africa that seem to leave us with memories that wash over us of love that overflows. We remember our own moments of walking into certain situations with nothing but open arms, feeling helpless because we felt that ALL we had to offer them was our love.

BUT in our open arms children found a resting place, they found love, they found a safe place that they could call home. It left their heart dancing, it left them feeling peace, and most importantly it showed them that even though they may have felt lost, in that moment they were found by God's love and He wanted us to walk in and show them that first hand. 

I take a breath and breathe you in.
A peace that I can't understand.
In your open arms my heart is resting.
Your kindness makes a way for me,
to give it all, surrendering.
Into your open arms my heart is running.
I have found my home in you
the one I was made for.
I have found my home inside of your love. 

I'm overwhelmed with thankfulness,
the joy I'm living to express. 
In your open arms my heart is dancing.
I have found my home in you,
the one I was made for.
I have found my home inside of your love.
I have found the safest place
inside your arms of mercy.
I found my home, I found my home in you.
I was lost but you found me.
I heard your spirit calling.
Now my heart rejoices
I am home.
I was lost but you found me
I heard your spirit calling
Now my heart rejoices 
I am home. 

Simply put, as it states in 1 Corinthians...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
 But the greatest of these is love.

Thank you, Ryan Daly, for this video of some sweet moments of love in action captured from our trips. 

Love Does...

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