This year we sent missionary members to four different locations across the globe to love and serve together. When the final team returned to Columbia for the summer, we interviewed team members from each trip, in order to celebrate with them all that Jesus accomplished through the trips.
We interviewed missionary member Alisha Mitchell about her trip to Coban, Guatemala.
What inspired you to go on this trip?
My parents were international missionaries from the time I was born until about age 9, so I knew part of the purpose for international missions stemmed from Matthew 28 in which Jesus calls us to go out into all the nations and make disciples. The New Testament tells us that God cares for people of all nations, and as Christians we understand that Jesus sacrificed everything for us, giving us the freedom to do the same, so that others may know of his love through his death and resurrection.
Since becoming a believer, I wanted to go on an international missions trip as a response to these truths. The trip to Guatemala interested me the most because I had heard a little bit of the stories of the children and I wanted so much to display God's love for them as His children, that they are not defined by the abuse and neglect they have experienced already.
What was life like in Guatemala?
Cobán is a city in the mountains of central Guatemala where life seems to revolve around a central market. We were considered fortunate to have toilets and sometimes hot showers.
The poverty of the city was probably seen most clearly in the children's hospital that my team visited. There were children crying in corners of rooms, barely any clean or good medical supplies, and there were not many qualified nurses or doctors, much less ones that actually cared.
As far as spiritual life, you are either Catholic or practiced some form of Vodou or multiple-god religion. What I gathered is that most of the people that claim to be Catholic are following more of a prosperity gospel where they only attend if they are sick or need help and think that their attendance will make God like them or give them what they need. Before the children came to the home a lot of them were abused, both physically and sexually, or seen as nuisances and ended up being neglected.
What types of things did you do while you were there?
We spent the first few days hanging out with the children of the home and getting a feel for what their every day life was like. We would play table games or juegos de mesa, freeze-tag, and spend time with them over meals. The conversations with the children over meals were the most fruitful as we were able to ask them questions about their childhood or just getting to know them as individuals. It reminded me of how Jesus spent a lot of his time in an effort to love people and share life with them.
One of the days my team went to the children's hospital in Cobán and donated a lot of medical supplies including ibuprofen and diapers for the babies. The second half of the week we were brought to the new property (meant to have 2 children's homes, a hospital and a school) to plant trees and to pray over it. It was absolutely beautiful and would allow a much greater amount of children to be rescued from neglect and malnutrition.
What would you say was the best part of the trip?
First of all, Christian and Eugenia, the parents of the home, have prayed incessantly for years for funding to start building on the property. God–who's ways and timing are perfect and good as he is always working for the good of those who love him–PROVIDED the funds completely! This news arrived while we were there and it was/is such a joyous gift.
The second was seeing how many of the children truly loved Jesus. It was easy to see as you watched them love one another patiently and sacrificially, caring for each other before taking caring of themselves. They would sing constantly and talk about how they wanted to be missionaries in countries all over the world. It was beautiful getting to see how Christian and Eugenia raised these children to fear and trust God, and to know that Jesus has saved them from spiritual darkness.
How did you benefit from the trip personally?
I learned a lot about what it means to be family with people of all nations because of the blood of Jesus and how the Holy Spirit binds us together as one. Because of this trip, through fundraising, being with the children and being with my teammates, I saw so clearly what it looks like to be different parts of the body of Christ. We are his body, his church and his bride, on mission with him until we die and are able to finally be joined with him perfectly as one.
I also learned more of how God's promises will always be true. In this case, from Romans 8. I didn't know the language well, I was plagued with insecurities and fear, but because of Jesus' righteousness, God does not forsake his children, even in their weaknesses. In the moments when I wanted to hide, he gently and graciously pursued me, letting me know that He will not let His daughter go. He used all of these things for my good and his glory, and He won't ever stop.