God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

Sorry for the delay in the post.

We spent Easter at a church that some teenagers who volunteer with Back2Back attend. They met up with us at the hotel and we took the bus with them to church from there. Before the trip, we had originally planned on going to a very conservative church, but plans changed and God worked everything out for the best. The church we ended up attending was very alive and excited about the work God is doing in Mexico. They were extremely hospitable towards us and even prayed with us before we left. The worship was incredible; I’m talking people jumping up and down and simply finding true, genuine joy in worshipping the Lord. We all want to bring this style of worship back to Taylor now, but it may be a little much for what Americans tend to be comfortable with. After worship, some of our team helped out with Sunday school while some of us stayed for the Spanish church service. Those who volunteered to help out in the Sunday school were so encouraged to see teenagers leading the classes, who were so on fire for God and students who were so eager to learn more about who God is. One of our team members noted that in America, we tend to only let the “qualified” people (usually adults) teach Sunday school, but this church had teenagers leading the teaching. This made me think of how many “unqualified” or young people God has used to preach the gospel. As far as I know, the disciples were a bunch of teenagers. God used so many unqualified people. I came across a quote that talked about all the “unqualified” people God used in the Bible. To name a few: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Jacob was a liar, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, the disciples fell asleep while praying, the Samaritan woman was divorced, and more. I was really struck by how we do not need to have it all together in order for God to work through us. In fact, I believe one reason our team was so unified was because we all admitted that we did not have it all together and yet we all longed to love and serve Christ with everything we have. I do not know who the author is, but I came across a common quote that said, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” I think this was a great reminder; especially coming out of the trip, some of us may believe lies that God cannot use us. But, He already has and will continue to.

When we returned to Taylor, technically Tuesday morning, we hit the ground running. We arrived at Taylor at 2:15 am and had to go to class in the morning. So needless to say, the distraction of our busy lives is something we are all battling. Although our hearts are very sad as the trip has come to a close, our hearts are very blessed as we reflect back on our experience in Mexico. God answered so many prayers, brought us new realizations daily, brought us closer to Him, and brought us closer to each other. We had asked at the beginning of the trip if you all would pray for team unity and God certainly answered that prayer! We truly felt God at work in our team, as we were so vulnerable and real with each other. No one pretended to have it all together, while we also expressed a common longing to seek truth in the Lord. We cannot even express how much all of your prayers were appreciated.

Some things we learned:

–       The importance of putting others needs before our own

–       The incredible power of God

–       God’s love can reach beyond language barriers

–       The importance of being in community and what real, intentional community looks like (even beyond how much intentional community is stressed at Taylor)

–       The importance of being real with each other and sharing what God is doing in our lives

–       How blessed we are

–       What it really means to live for Christ (we met some incredible role models)

–       What it truly means to care for one another

Please continue to pray for:

–       strength as we adjust back to life at Taylor

–       keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus despite the business

–       us not to be discouraged

–       us to stay connected as a team, despite our separate schedules and busy lives

–       God to continue to work in the lives of the people we met in Mexico, both the Back2Back staff, their ministry partners, and the children we worked with

Anecdotes for the Road

Our spring break trip to Grant County is over, but I thought I’d share some stories from our time in Marion and at St. Martin’s.

Basically, our mission on this trip was to hang out with people. It’s true that we also served food and hung up clothes, but at least for me, that was the real focus.

There was one guy I met, I don’t even know his name because I never got to sit down with him, but he was a real kidder! Whenever I gave him food he would always ask for just a little bit more in a joking tone. “Please!” he’d whine, putting a hand on his heart and pouting his lower lip. I’d put a little more until he finally was satisfied. One day I was serving strawberries, so when he came through the line I put a single berry on his plate. “Oh, come on, girl!” he cried petulantly. I raised my eyebrows and put one more. “Oh, really? Please, more!” Things continued like this until he had more than a normal serving of strawberries, but that was okay. It was hilarious!

On Friday as I ate my lunch, I sat with a little family I had noticed coming every day. The mother looked to be in her twenties and her two kids were seven and four. They were so adorable – they both had dark brown hair (the boy’s was curly and poofy) and dark eyes that seemed bottomless. I had barely sat down when they began talking to me. “Are you going to eat with us?” the girl asked. “Yes, is that okay?” I answered. “All right,” she said. Immediately she began chattering about her kitty that was blue but had red paws. They looked like mittens, but they weren’t because it was just the fur changing color, she explained to me. “Look, she’s on your lap!” the little girl exclaimed. “I think she likes you!” She grinned at me happily. “I like her too!” I said. It was incredible how she was so excited to talk to me, and didn’t even know my name!

Next the little boy came up to me. He smushed himself so close up to my chair that I could barely eat! I began crawling my hand up and down his back and head like a spider, and he giggled. He ran around the table as we continued playing like this, and he laughed and laughed! The next day when I saw the kids again, they were excited to see me too.

On Friday I went with a group of team members to a house nearby. Our plan was to help clean the house and we expected to be dealing with perhaps a packrat problem or very unclean conditions. The other group who did a home visit certainly faced that, but we faced something else. Before we could knock on the front door, it was opened by a bunch of kids, many that I recognized from serving lunch at St. Martin’s. When we entered the front room, there were so many kids running around and playing loudly, I started wondering how many lived in there! (It turned out there were seven kids, coming from two mothers, and living with the grandparents – a whole family tree in one house!) As I stood there, not sure what to do in the face of the pandemonium, one of the girls grabbed my hand. She was about eleven years old. We began talking and told each other our names. She seemed so happy just to have me there! As we began cleaning the house, she asked if she could help me. I was surprised by her offer, but let her scrub walls with me as her little brothers periodically came up and asked if they could help too. The girl’s grandfather walked by at one point and said, “What’d you tell her to get her to help you clean? She hasn’t done a minute of work in her life!” He walked away laughing, but it dawned on me then that these kids didn’t care if they had to clean, as long as they got to spend time with us. They were so hungry for love, for recognition, for a caring hand (Cassie just held one of the kids for hours, and he was perfectly content). I had been a little begrudging in coming before because I was already tired from a day at St. Martin’s, but after meeting the kids, I was so glad I had come.

We finished cleaning quickly (there really wasn’t that much to do in that house), and went outside with the kids. We played with them for two hours – piggyback races, regular races, snowball fights, swinging them around in the air – and they loved every minute of it. One of the little ones (he was about four), found a funnel and filled it with snow. He’d walk up giggling and swing it like a baseball bat, and the snow went flying out. This went on for probably an hour, and it was hilarious every time! We were sad to go, but we saw them again at St. Martin’s the next day, and they were so happy to see us!

These are just a few of the experiences we had, and they don’t come close to encompassing everything that happened at St. Martin’s. There are so many people I don’t have time to mention here, but they are just as important to us as the others.

It is so true that this trip changed us more than it changed anything in Marion. But that’s okay. My heart has been captured by these beautiful people, and I know there are many others in our group who plan to go back to St. Martin’s on Saturdays and keep up the connection. That’s the beautiful thing about this trip – it’s not really over, even though we’re back at Taylor.

~Melissa