I am 48 hours into my first international mission trip and I have been tasked with writing the first blog entry from our trip to the Dominican Republic. As a newbie fresh into the experience, I thought it might be most helpful to reflect on some of my thoughts leading up to our departure. When I took the step to commit myself to participate in a mission trip, a lot of questions ran through my head about what I had committed myself to. Questions like: What is a mission trip? I really don’t have any skills that would be useful. I know I am not a model Christian. If I do go work as part of a team, will our work really make any difference? What if I do something that damages someone’s relationship with God?
As I wrestled with these questions, I also found myself inside my own head exploring the foundations of my own faith. It was our co-leader Jane who said at one of our first meetings that we are not taking God to the Dominican Republic; he is already there. He may look different to us. But he is there already working and ready to work with us when we get there.
Over the weeks that followed I found myself thinking more about a very early experience I had in the church that I grew up in. I remember being in grade school and wondering if the devil was talking to me, telling me that God did not care as much about all the rules of the church as much as the church seemed to. That is what I felt, but I was not going to tell anyone. Then one summer we had a vacation bible school week based on the children’s hymn “My God is a Great Big God.” Wow I remember thinking — God is more than anyone of us can comprehend? Now that was something that I could believe in!
Over the years, as I have learned about the big bang, history of war and conflicts, the life cycle of stars, the perspectives of different peoples that share different sides of an event, quantum theory, I have always thought — wow my God is a great big God. And the exciting thing about a mission trip, at least this mission, is the opportunity to step outside the particular of a church to experience the universalness of God. In the Dominican Republic we have had the opportunity to meet some of our other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are part of a universal church, but God has worked through their history in a different way.
It is in this moment of time that I have the privilege to have a supportive family and the resources to choose to embark on this mission trip. Before we even left it has been a great opportunity to wrestle a little with my faith. And having spent a few hours here and experienced some of the work of the Christian community here and the other Christian visitors that had gone before me, some of my initial questions seem a little silly. So little of the success of any of this depends on my personal ability. Many hands do indeed make for light work.