As we were driving home after the service, my wife, Isaura, mentioned how much she had enjoyed the evenings activities, particularly the enthusiasm of the team members. About half of the team was on their first mission trip of any kind. The age range was from 19 to 74. But what particularly impressed Isaura was the contentment each member exhibited. Here we had traveled in excess of twenty-thousand miles by air to work in the construction of a church in a land and climate that was new to all of us. Sure, a few got sick for two or three days, and there was the occasional accident, the worst was a fall requiring ten stitches. We even had one member’s wallet stolen by a pickpocket. Tacna, Peru has the dubious distinction of being the
Pickpocket Capital of the World.But nothing could dampen the enthusiasm that was clearly evident.
Several people on the team used their vacation time from work to go on this trip. That’s commitment!
The attitude of the team was something to behold. There was a lot of laughter and friendly horseplay from start to finish. For instance, everyone found it amusing that I have the ability to close my eyes anywhere, anytime and be asleep in seconds. They even took pictures of me in various places and positions of repose. Why this is of interest, I have no idea. Then there was Jack who works for a funeral home. He wore a T-shirt that reads,
Why walk around half-dead, when we can bury you?Then Pastor Ed from our San Francisco church, was teaching a Bible study each afternoon to a group of children in the park near the site where we were building the church. One day he was teaching about Zacchaeus and his interesting encounter with Jesus. As the story goes, being a small man yet wanting to see Jesus, he climbed into a tree to get above the crowd. Jesus saw him sitting on the branch and called him down so they could have lunch together. By way of illustration, Pastor Ed, being a small man himself, climbed into a tree so the children could get the idea. Believe me, he had their attention.
But the best part of the whole experience of being in Peru for me was when Fred announced last night that he had recommitted his life to Jesus Christ. Fred’s in his fifties and is the son of a Baptist preacher. He has not been walking with the Lord for a long time. A prodigal, if you will. He was invited to go on the trip by one of the other team members because we needed someone skilled in welding ceiling trusses. Fred did weld the trusses, but God had plans Fred could not have imagined!
Isaura wisely noted that many people plan vacations for months in advance, often running off to exotic locales where they spend all of their time, money and energy in self-indulgence, only to return home exhausted and needing another vacation. And, I might add, often being unfulfilled.
What a contrast with those who spent their vacation time giving of themselves to others, returning home uplifted, satisfied and refreshed, content in having done something for others.
There’s a verse of scripture that addresses this found in Proverbs 11:25:
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
Think about this, especially considering this is Easter week. This was the week in which Jesus gave himself sacrificially for us on the cross of Calvary, fulfilling the Father’s will. For Jesus, nothing could be more satisfying or refreshing.
If you’d like to be refreshed, I’m taking applications for next year’s mission team.