Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Sarah

Wow… Mexico was incredible and so far the best week of my life! One thing that God kept pressing on my heart was the lesson of being fearless and to go forth and live a life fulfilled in Christ.

I have been praying for an opportunity for God to use me as a tool in his kingdom and when the opportunity of a mission trip came up I didn’t think twice; and not to mention the trip landed on the exact week of my universities spring break… crazy right! It seemed as if God led me to this group and helped fill a little bit of my wanderlust!

Throughout this adventure I felt immense love from my team members and not to mention the kids at the orphanage stole my heart! Even with the language barrier and not knowing each other for a long period of time we clicked like that! The love and excitement from those around me filled me with a spiritual high.

Living in Utah County I often feel bogged down and discouraged by the overwhelming culture. From the planning stages I had a few friends a little less than excited about my endeavors. In a time of discouragement God kept pressing on my heart the reminder of my focus…Him; He was after all the reason I was going on this trip.

Many times along the planning stages and on the trip I saw God’s work. The fact that the trip was on my spring break was crazy and being a poor college student the idea of being able to afford this trip seemed so far gone…yet God strikes again, and I was able to fundraise enough money to go to Mexico.

Finally, the expressions of the children were works of God in itself. Every time these children saw us they were thrilled and loved to love on us. The moment I arrived at the orphanage it seemed as if I had a kid hugging me in seconds and I was being challenged for a game of tag. God also presented the opportunity for me to use my passion of photography to serve these children, by taking pictures of each kid. Needless to say, for these kids to have something to call their own was very rare. Taking that into consideration we gave each child the photo I took them; the kids lit up and I was reminded why I originally pursued photography.

The opportunity to serve the “least of these” was life changing and carried on the lesson to be fearless and to go forth in a life fulfilled in Christ. Sometimes all we need to do is follow God’s opportunities he has opened for us and remember he’s got this! … Micah 6:8

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Ben

What I really liked was painting, serving with the kids - we shouldn't call it a job if we can have this much fun doing it!  I really liked seeing Narvick and some of the other kids again and being able to make some new ones.

I met Narvick last year when we were in the house that he's in.  This house made connections easier because most of them spoke pretty good English, but Narvick spoke some of the best English.  We met while doing crafts and we were having a great time and we became immediate friends and then when we left we looked at one of the sponsors list and saw him on there and just decided to sponsor him! We've been able to save up money and write letters to him for his birthday and other special occasions.

It was really cool seeing him again because he is such a nice kid.  He loves to share and he is just so awesome and he loved seeing us again and how could we resist not wanting to see him again?

One of the best things was just seeing those kids again and playing with them and doing crafts again and just having a great time.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Stephanie

After being on the trip twice now, and both two completely different experiences, God has really just tugged on my heart to serve in whatever way I can. Both trips have just really showed me that serving others is the most rewarding way to serve God. Not to mention when we get to serve those kids, they have the sweetest hearts and it makes me so happy to see how God is working in their hearts. I love that we go down to "serve them" but really, God is serving us through them, and that's something that cannot be beat. And honestly, one of my favorite parts is getting to hang out with an amazing group of people all week and grow together as a church family.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Marcia

Hi – I’m Marcia, Jamie Morningstar’s Mom (and Ben’s grandmother).  This puts me as the oldest member of the CenterPoint team.  I found this year cooler (I do suggest that June is just too warm for hard labor) and very enjoyable.  The pace was good, the food and teamwork really great and my love of God re-enforced even more!

Now the details –
  • Sunday is church day.  I noticed people hanging around the back at the end of service and was thrilled to see kids we had met on our previous trip waiting to say hi.  They not only remembered ME, but were glad to see ME and game ME hugs.  (yes, this is all about ME).  I felt that spending one week, one year ago really did make a difference in their lives!
  • Time is well balanced between the cultural (sightseeing) with the work.  I totally enjoyed the country restaurant and volcano watching on Sunday.  Shopping, eating out and walking through parks helped me to participate in the pulse Colima City.  Work was organized and fulfilling, sometimes tough!  Energy levels did tank and grace was extended for “break times”.
  • My job was to help sew 7 sets of curtains for an occupied house.  We set up our machine right there in the middle of the house!  Kids came to see what we were doing.  I don’t speak Spanish, but was able to show them what the machine could do.  Interaction with the kids was fun.  We had eager helpers un-pinning the seams, turning tabs inside out, measuring and helping to hang the finished product, all of which they understood with no language barrier.  The house parents take care of 13 kids – there isn’t much time to making things pretty.  I felt this project added to the “hominess” of the home.
  • Our meal was prepared by a different house group each day.  They took pride in serving us a good meal and I think this helped their self-esteem.  They were able to give back to the team and say thank you, by serving us.
  • I doubly enjoyed being with the CenterPoint team because I was with my family.  There is something to be said about a family serving the Lord together.  A bonding takes place which goes beyond merely being together.
  • Although I did not have much time for personal devotions, I felt the Lord’s presence throughout the day.  During our pre-trip discussions, we were reminded of how devastating it is for orphans – no family – in a culture where family is very important.  During each encounter, I prayed that the child would know that he/she was a child of the living God and that Father God loves him.  Sometimes I could even say it out loud! 
  • And of course the beach!  Love the ocean!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Mark

When I first walked by the Mexico mission trip table I felt a tug,  like the Holy spirit was saying "Hey Mark, Go to Mexico and see the children".  I was then pretty hooked on going. I am so glad I did!

Seeing Gods' work first hand is a miracle in itself.  The support there at the orphanage is a miracle. The love of the support staff for the children and there daily devotion is God at work.  To see that was heart felt and encourages me to do more for others, when I can, as often as I can.  Supporting those children in a financial way is something I will be setting up as soon as I can.

Prayer support is another way we all can show our love for others and especially these children of "Hogar de Amor". I loved it when Dawn, one of the team leaders referenced Matthew 25:35:
For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was homeless and you gave me shelter, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.

The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Those children touched my heart, and doing more for others has a whole lot more meaning to me.

Thank you! so much for allowing me to be a part of a team that shows and shares the love of God!  God Bless everyone who has an opportunity to do just that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reflections on Serving - Dan

My 14 year old son and I just returned from a week long missions trip to Colima, Mexico. We went to serve the children and workers at several orphanages. There were several reasons why I went on this trip. One was that I wanted my son to see how people live in a different part of the world, a part of the world that seems to be a little slower, a little more laid back, a little more grateful. Another reason to go was because I went last year and was excited to see the kids and workers that we fell in love with last year. I also went because God called me to go. He has put a longing in my heart for the Mexican people. He has drawn me toward Mexico for years. He has softened my heart toward them.

For the last two years I've gone to Mexico to serve. However, when I return home I find that I am changed more than the others that I went to see. You see I had this preconceived notion that I had something that the kids wanted and even needed. I had items to bring to them (coloring books, crayons, toothpaste and toothbrushes), I had something different for their daily routine, I could bring joy into their hurting lives, I could bring the love of Christ. However, I found that they already had Christ in their daily routine. They knew that Christ loved them and it was awesome to share that with them. They were very appreciative of the things that we brought them, but it was in the act of giving, the personal one on one time, that they most appreciated.

I was also encouraged by the workers at the orphanage. I was encouraged by the way they give and give and give some more. I was excited that God put these people in charge and that they accepted the calling to help with the children. I was encouraged by how the children love so purely. How they are just so full of joy. How is it that these kids can be so happy? They have been neglected by their parents, immediate family and even family friends. They have nothing, but at the same time they have everything... They have love.

In reflection, I find that things get in the way. I really don't need my iPad, my iPhone, my computer, my TV or even my car. I really don't need any of those things. There is a love and joy that these orphans have that I can't comprehend. There is a love and happiness that these kids have that is so pure.

What I found in Mexico was that I was the one that was missing out. I found that I was the one that was missing something, I was the one that needed the kids more than they needed me. I found that the simple things in life are the best. God doesn't make things difficult, he makes things simple and we tend to confuse and compound problems. It's the flesh of this world that confuses things.

Two final thoughts about my trip to Mexico:
  1. God is alive and well in Mexico!
  2. Kids (especially Hogar de Amor Orphans) have a lot of love to give!