Mission trips can really make us go on great faith journeys. I’ve been to Chiangmai, the Philippines, Indonesia, and these experiences have opened my eyes to how great God’s love is. But this time it wasn’t an 8 hour plane trip that got us to our mission field, but an hour's drive from Brisbane. Going to Ipswich for a mission trip left an impact in my life that was very different to my past experiences. There was just something different about doing missions in your own country, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a passion for missions. On this mission trip we experienced God moving in different ways, and had to exercise our faith in ways we had never before. Reflecting on the trip, these are just a few things I have gained from the experience.
We spoke to many people over the course of our trip. Although at first we found it hard to connect to them, we realised that the people we crossed paths with wanted a listening ear more than anything else. We met people who were lonely, who were sick and who came from broken homes. When we went on mission trips to places where we didn't speak the language, we could only show the people love through acts of kindness. But now, interacting with people who mostly didn’t require physical help, what we had to learn was how to relate deeply to them, even as strangers. And although it was more challenging than just physically helping people, I do believe that we’ve left a greater impact in their lives.
2. Find your grace zone
We faced many obstacles during the first part of our trip, and we didn’t feel like we were breaking any ground with the locals. I could tell that the team was demoralised; it felt like we had no idea what our purpose was in Ipswich. But this all changed the day that we went door-to-door and blessed the neighbours with christmas carols! The blazing sun didn’t stop us from singing our hearts out to the families who opened their doors to us. It was so much fun singing to them, especially to the children who smiled brightly and clapped along. We even had a Filipino family try to give us money for our carols! Apparently in the Filipino culture carollers go around singing to get donations, but we simply wanted to make someone’s day. We ended the day brimming with thanksgiving, as we thanked God for the grace that he had poured out.
3. God moves in ways we cannot see
The climax of our mission trip was a christmas party we organised for the members of the community. We put our heart and soul into preparing for the event, with nightly rehearsals throughout the trip for the skit and song items. The main highlight of the event was our mini-drama that depicted the birth of Jesus, and showed how through his disciples, his love transcends time and reaches out to us even till today. We had tons of games for the children lined up, delicious food on the barbecue, and christmas carols up our sleeves. But half an hour after the party was supposed to start, we still did not have any guests. It was definitely a challenging moment, especially after having so many families tell us over the week that they would be interested to come. We were definitely discouraged, but I was so inspired by my team members, because instead of sitting around waiting, they took the initiative to talk to all the families who were already at the park, and invited them to join our party. Soon, the numbers of guests grew, and eventually a few families who had agreed to come turned up as well! It was such a blessing. I was particularly touched by the heart of one of my teammates, who went the extra mile and wrote a short letter to one of the guests to encourage her in her battle with depression.
The evening was filled with laughter and happy children, but most importantly we managed to connect to members of the community and bless them with an enjoyable night. It is my prayer that they will continue to meet people who share God’s love to them, and that they will know how much He cares for them, just like He does for you :)