I’ve sat with my laptop open multiple times over the last few weeks, trying to write about my most recent mission trip, but I can’t seem to write about anything. Even now, as I am determined to get something out, I can barely see through the tears welling up in my eyes.
I can’t share much detail, as we traveled to a closed country where Christianity isn’t necessarily illegal, but definitely not popular and has many rules attached to it. It is an impoverished country and the people are very oppressed. I mean oppressed to the point where their store shelves are completely empty, aside from alcohol and chicken. If the store shelves are stocked, the people cannot afford to buy anything with their $18/month wages.
What I saw was what you read in books or see in movies, but never imagine you’d experience it yourself in real life. Even as I’ve begun my missionary journey, I still don’t know what to expect. We can hear testimonies or read about countries other people visit, or even in our own country, but no story prepares us for the physicality of the experience itself.
I’ve experienced many different things in the few countries I’ve been to. Things that have revealed ungratefulness in my heart and things that have caused me to make changes to my every day life. But what I experienced there was something that I honestly don’t know how to transition into reality.
Several days after we returned, one of the team members asked me if I was still in the clouds about it. I replied yes, and she said she was too, and both of us tried to hold in our tears. We talked about how maybe this was our new reality, and we both agreed that it is difficult to figure out what to do about the current states of our hearts. Just a few days after the trip, I saw a man at work carrying two dozen eggs and it brought me to tears. In that country the people only get so many eggs every few days. What is one supposed to do when something as normal as eggs pierce the heart?
In a tourist district, I had to pay to use the restroom and was handed a small fold of toilet paper.
At a high end tourist hotel where we visited on the last night to have coffee, the waiter reproached us when we asked for creamer telling us, “I know you have creamer in your country, but my country is very different. My country is hard for you, it’s hard for me, it’s hard for everyone.” I didn’t know what to say.
We visited people who have nothing, and I mean nothing, yet they fed us a feast fit for kings. It was told to us that the meals these families prepared for us probably cost a month’s wage. A team member asked, “But how will they get by?” to which our host responded, “God always provides.”
We had to fill backpacks and grocery bags with supplies (clothes, medications, office supplies, etc.) to sneak them over to people as the government doesn’t allow many things into the country. It was said during this trip, “The government is scared to the death of the Church because they know the Church will help the community.”
In these past few weeks since the trip, my heart has beat harder and harder for these people. Even though it was one of the hardest experiences of my life, I long to be there and it hurts. Not once did I feel afraid during this trip because God placed us in the care of the most amazing people (people who went on a mission to find eggs, because they ran out, to make us a special dessert).
This trip was a “take the first step even though you don’t see the rest of the staircase” trip for me. It was incredible to take each step on that staircase. As minutes passed during the trip, I saw the hand of God move more and more. This Church, the one the government fears, is awake and active. They’re passionate and live a simple, but powerful, faith. They are united and self-less, and they taught us through their actions what it means to live the Bible. Their hope is literally Jesus.
Even though I cannot disclose the location, I ask that you pray for this country. Maybe the Holy Spirit will reveal it to you, but if not, He knows which country you’re praying for.
God bless you.
Love, Sarah Lynn