No one ever comes back the same after a Mission's Trip. Not even a short one. It's exhausting. You are physically and emotionally spent, but spent for God. You've seen people in their spiritual and physical poverty. You give them stuff for now and the Gospel for Eternity. You say Adios and hope that they keep the faith. Hope that they read their book and find the church you spoke of. It's a feeling that I've done all I could do, but it didn't seem like enough. I don't want to give the impression that what we did wasn't a good thing. It was, but I feel like we only did a part, and that's true too. We threw the seed. Some of it bounced and some of it was accepted. The problem in my mind is that I wasn't there long enough to watch it to see what happened. I know that I was never supposed to be there for longer, but there just seems that there is so much work to be done in Mexico. So I get back to Chico, where people don't build their houses out of pallets, where people don't live in fear of being killed on their way to the market, where armed soldiers don't stand every few blocks away, and things just don't seem as colorful (of course it's gloomy and raining too) and the food, although much better than in Mexico, doesn't taste as flavorful as it once did. The sense of purpose has drained a bit. When I was in Mexico, every minute of my day was planned by someone else. I gave over my freedom and surrendered to be another's slave to their schedule to further the Gospel of Christ. I worked without question or complaint because I believe that we were working for a greater good, and it was work the sweat and tears.
What is going on in Juarez is a good work. Amigo Fiel is representing Christ to that city and the city is responding with thanks. The city provided us with a bus to ride around in. They give facilities and land to Amigo Fiel hoping that Amigo Fiel will use it to benefit the city, which they will, but also to spread the Gospel of Christ. We went downtown once to do an outreach, and there was a crowd watching a couple of clowns. Pastor Carlos went to talk to the clowns and they allowed us to commandeer their sound system to give the gospel, and twenty or more people came to know Christ. It was wonderful. I played soccer with a kid named Javier, who wouldn't let go of the ball afterwards. I sat in Sunday school with a little girl named Zelma, and the only way I could figure out her name was that I wrote mine on my paper and asked her to write hers on hers. Five days was too short. The 2,000 kids we saw weren't enough. I wanted to stay an extra week, to reach even more, but my time was up.
The feeling that I felt when I get back must be something like a soldier going home after some time in the service. Everything is familiar again, but somehow seems foreign. Friends are how you remember them, yet you're a different person now. People think you're the same person you've always been, but you're not. There's something different, like the hobbits after they're returned from their journey. You've seen things that have opened your eyes to people you've never met, and even in our poverty in the US, there's hope and a choice. There are shelters and government programs so that if someone doesn't want to live on the streets, he or she doesn't have to. They may have to give up alcohol and follow someone else's rules, but that is a viable option. But it's not just the poverty. Maybe it is the look in the eyes that want something that you have. They hold out their hands expecting you to give them more than a smile. You give them the gospel, and they say yes, maybe because they mean it, or maybe because they see a gift in your hands and know it's for them. Something they didn't have to work for, that they've earned by lying on park benches and sleeping under bridges. You look around and think that the people in your country have no idea of what they even have and and are not grateful of what they know. On the trip, you had a mission and a purpose to fight this poverty of spirit, but here it's just the norm. It would be like a soldier going across the sea to fight terrorism and represent the government and come home to see their grandparents have their house repossessed because they can't pay the housing tax, even though the house has been paid off for years. You feel as if we need a mission's team here, working with these people from a benefactor outside the US that seems to have more answers and resources than we have.
The bottom line is this: The norm that was fine before I left is no longer good enough. But I don't know how to work harder, run faster, and strive more for the Gospel of Christ than I have already been. I don't have the wonderful support of 35 other team members who encourage and run alongside you all day long. I come home to a sleeping dog and a foodless fridge. Someone said I looked sad, but not really sad, once I got back from Mexico. And I was a bit, but didn't realize it. What saddens me now is the first response to these feelings is to do something, anything, but I'm so tired. And giving into sleep, the following feeling is apathy. I can't do it, so I shouldn't really try. Is there a middle ground that I can obtain? Is there a way that I can be the missionary to Chico that I was to Mexico? Can I work that hard with little sleep and food and no time to myself except for the last few exhausted thoughts on my way to sleep?
It was a good trip. Many people cam back with a lot of stories and we all had a lot of fun. I just came back with more questions, the biggest being, "What now?"
Setting Sun - Sun Setting in SoCal...I forget where exactly.....
1 year ago