Since my first trip in the spring of 2012, Mexico has been like a second home to me. As I returned, I couldn’t help but feel the same wave of emotions I had felt on my first trip. The anticipation, excitement, nervousness and giddiness were all there this time around too. When I initially decided to go to Mexico this time, I was planning on going alone and I saw it more as a vacation, a time to reconnect with the people I had lived with for six months. When I told a church friend that I had plans to go to Mexico, she expressed interest in going herself. When we ended up creating a team of seven people, I felt pressure to make this trip into a well-planned and organized program for our team and for the people in Mexico. 

As we began to prepare for our trip, I messaged Pastor Kyle and asked him what was on the agenda for our week in Mexico, and he simply replied, “It will be good and unplanned”. The type-A personality in me was freaking out and a part of me was wondering if we were doing all of this planning and preparation for nothing. I was falling into the lies that a mission trip is “giving giving giving” and thinking, “What can I do for them?,” or “How can I save them?”  Through weekly readings and discussions on Introduction to Global Missions by Zane Pratt, God was teaching me that I could do nothing of my own accord. These people weren’t going to be saved because I gave them something or I taught them how to make a certain craft. The only person that could save them is Jesus Christ himself. This was a reassuring truth throughout the trip because I knew God would be in control over all of our plans, all of our preparations, and all of our efforts. God was simply asking me to “trust in the Lord with ALL [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

During our week in Mexico, we didn’t put on a VBS program and we didn’t take center stage to show the body worship we had prepared. God was telling us to take the backseat to His glory and power, and to simply follow Him. So we did. We followed God’s appointed leader in Mexico, Pastor Kyle and his daily ministries. We followed him to church, followed him to pick up the kids, visited their homes, ate with them, walked around the villages together, played soccer outside in the pouring rain, worked with them, got in trouble with them, painted houses with them, complained with them, and laughed with them. We did all of the things that would have happened regardless of whether our team would have been there. Jesus was reminding me that the Gospel is walking with all of these people, spending time with them, doing everyday activities with them. That is, we were living out the Gospel in our actions and words. 

This trip was different in many ways as it was unplanned and spontaneous a lot of the time. But even in the chaos and confusion, I was constantly reminded of God’s sovereignty, provision and control and how He wanted me to completely and wholly render my heart and my thoughts to Him. 

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

Joel 2:13