In a previous post, I shared some of my story, and I explained more of the details as to why I want to go work as a missionary overseas. One part that I mentioned was the fact that I realized that the need for people to hear the savings news of the Gospel is so great, not just in my own community, but all over the world. My realization of this particular fact has emerged from far more than just one mission trip to Peru.
Last year I was on a mission trip to the very impoverished country of Guatemala. I was going with a group from my university, and we were helping to host a medical clinic and to lead a VBS. We traveled to different villages throughout Guatemala, helping to spread the Gospel, while also having a very eye-opening experience of how poor (in material things) this country is.
One of the last days of the trip, we were working in Xaya (pronounced something like SHAY-YA)–a remote village at least 3 hours from where we were staying (Guatemala City). While waiting for the VBS to get started, we realized that we had a couple of hours before any kids would show up, so we decided to do some home visits (i.e. knock on people’s doors and offer to pray with them–very powerful experience) and also explore the area. After some very successful visits to different people in the village, we ventured across a small river to explore some of the farm land.
Just as I stepped off the bridge that was precariously dangling over the small river, a small insect (which I didn’t see) decided that I looked either A: tasty, B: hostile, or C: both, and stung me. Now you’re probably thinking: “OUCH! ” You’re also probably thinking: “OK, Levi, you’re in a foreign country with foreign bugs and who knows what else. Maybe it’s time to head back to the medical clinic.
First, of all, pain is a very small price to pay for experience. I now have the right to brag that I was stung by a Guatemalan insect. How cool!
Second, I was definitely considering walking back the 1/2 mile to where the medical clinic was and get the sting checked out. But the rest of my group wanted to take a quick hike through the farmland, since apparently there was something really cool to be seen. After some brief hesitation, I decided to just fight the pain and tag along. And I’m glad I did.
Besides my fellow American college students, we were walking with some Guatemalans, including two high-school-aged young ladies who, when they realized that I was one of the only ones who could speak Spanish, started up a conversation with me. At first, we were just talking about where we were from, what we were doing with ourselves, etc. However, they soon started asking me questions me about the United States, about what life there is like.
I soon realized that I was talking to two young ladies who had had some exposure to the big city (Guatemala City, which, like I said, was at least 3 hours away…if you had a car), and who felt entrapped by living in this tiny village called Xaya in the middle of nowhere that no one has ever heard of unless they’ve been there (or now if you’re reading my blog). Sound familiar? Not much different than plenty of people that I’ve met in the United States.
So I mentioned that this was a problem that people in the States have too…and that when they get to the big city, they realize that it doesn’t have much either. “Muchos jovenes en las ciudades se recrean con alcohol, drogas, o otras malas cosas,” I mentioned. (Translation: Many young people in the cities amuse themselves with alcohol, drugs, or other bad stuff.) “Aun así, no se satisfacen con tales cosas” (Even then, they aren’t satisfied with those things).
As we walked along, one of them pulled out her phone, which had some American songs on it–songs that were in English (which they couldn’t understand). I soon realized that they wanted me to translate the songs for them–songs which were mostly love songs. Songs about people looking for something, but never really finding. People looking for satisfaction.
We briefly stopped at a pool in a small grove (where they had been leading us) to stop and take some pictures.
As we headed back to the village, I continued to have a conversation with them, translating more songs. The more we talked, the more I realized that the same problems that we have in the United States can be found in Guatemala. Forget certain cultural differences, it all boils down to the fact that everyone is looking for something or someone to satisfy them, and that rarely do they find the one that truly can satisfy them (a.k.a. Jesus). From my conversation, I could see that the need to spread the Gospel–something which is so greatly needed in the United States–is just as much needed in Guatemala. And the rest of Latin America. And the rest of the world.
So that’s part of why I want to go overseas…I can hear God calling me to go to somewhere where people just can’t seem to find what will satisfy them…and that could be (and is) anywhere and everywhere…so I’ll take one step at a time and follow God where he leads me.