I’ve been attending Munger for about two years now. Since I formally joined about six months ago, I’d been looking for ways to get more involved. I started volunteering at the Coffee Bar and with the Greeting Team. I joined a small group and even helped out with the Christmas Store this year.
But one thing I’d never done is gone on a mission trip. So when the opportunity opened for me to join HPUMC’s mission trip to Costa Rica this September, I didn’t think twice about signing up. While I thought it would be a great experience, what I didn’t know was that the weeklong trip would change my heart and life in ways I hadn’t imagined.
The plan was to fly to San Jose and travel to the nearby town of Cordoba to Casa Esperanza (Hope House) children’s home to visit the children and help build a recreational center for them.
During the first night’s evening devotional, we pondered the question “why are you here, and what are you really seeking?” As we shared with each other, our group’s answers ranged from “I’m seeking a deeper, more authentic relationship with Christ” (this answer was mine) to “I don’t know what I’m looking for or expecting, but I am a seeker.”
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” We can search far and wide, but in today’s world with its many distractions, sometimes all we end up doing is “throwing up prayers to God,” all too haphazardly as Andrew referred to in a recent sermon.
There’s something different about praying intentionally and as often as we did on the trip. We prayed as a group together throughout the day and shared stories and fellowship during our downtime rather than get caught up in the usual distractions of cell phones and email. I felt spiritually connected and found my mind at ease during the trip as the distractions in my life faded out and the music of our group’s guitar filled the room.
We spent four days sifting sand, shoveling rocks, mixing cement, carrying cinder blocks, pouring concrete, and laying block by block to build up the walls on the new recreational center for the kids at the children’s home. We grew tired—we felt the weight of each block we carried and each wheelbarrow we pushed up the steep ramp to the roof of the building. We felt relief and satisfaction as we laid each block into place, one by one, building up the walls of the recreational center. As the week progressed, I learned that my trip to Costa Rica was indeed a mission for me. It was a mission of healing and revelation.
Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” While I have the love of Christ in my heart and feel His presence often, I felt broken up until this incredible experience in Costa Rica. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when my burden became light, but the pain and brokenness I had carried with me was lifted during my trip to Costa Rica and to the children’s home. The unconditional love the children showed us as they greeted us each day with hugs, ear to ear smiles, and open arms warmed and healed my heart. God’s love is ever-present, and I felt it in a very tangible way holding the hands of the kids, singing songs with them, and playing with them at Casa Esperanza.
I have to wonder how we might grow and experience Christ’s love if we stepped out into the unknown or became even a little uncomfortable and accepted the opportunity to serve others more often.
For me, I thank God for this life-changing experience and that my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30). I pray that we as a church continue to grow together in fellowship at Munger, and I pray that other Mungarians would consider joining us as we plan a mission trip for the church.