I Went On A Missions Trip (And Lived To Tell The Tale)

7:00 AM


In July, as I've mentioned several times, I went on a missions trip. 

Now, this is not the first one. I've been to Chile and New York City in the past, and loved both of those trips. Missions is something I believe I have a heart for, and I'm looking into pursuing it more as I get older if that's what's in store for me. So when the opportunity came for me to go to the Dominican Republic with my church, I jumped right on that.


Several months of planning, some changes in plans, a delayed flight, a 6-hour layover in a New York airport, a 4-hour middle-of-the-night flight overseas, and a sleepy trip through customs later, I stood beside my dad outside the Santiago airport, at 2 AM, blue hair and everything, trying to hide from the people who were giving me weird looks while we waited for the missionaries to pick us up and take us back to where we could finally get some sleep.

I was kind of terrified. 

To clarify: I'm not scared by this kind of thing, usually. I've done the whole international flight thing before. I've done a whole new country where I'm the odd girl out before. I knew exactly what we were doing. I had my dad with me. I knew we were safe. But I was terrified. About what, I didn't know. And that's not something I like to admit. 

Six hours and some groggy sleep later we were on the beach, looking out at the ocean and holding one of the awesomest church services I've ever been a part of. (I don't get all warm and fuzzy and religious here often, but maybe I should, because this is something that's important to me. So whatever.) I feel like I really found peace in God out there, and that was something I very much needed.

This is me on the beach, having a very nice day. (You can't see how tired I
am behind the sunglasses.) 

That was the beginning to one of the hardest weeks I've had in a long while. 

Tough in lots of ways, too. Definitely physically tough -- I'm just a lazy bookworm who rarely goes outside if I can help it, and this involved long hard days that began early and ended late. We spent our mornings doing construction. Shoveling, mostly. I'm never touching a shovel ever again. There was shoveling concrete out of a very unfinished pastor's house, and none of us particularly enjoyed that. It was hot. It was hard work (we had shovels and buckets and we were upstairs.) I'm pretty sure I was coughing up concrete dust all week. The second half of the week, we moved to a children's camp that they're starting down there, and pretty much moved piles of rocks and dirt there, too. But there's something amazing about getting a bunch of 'church people' together to do something like that. You can really see God working, and the work isn't quite as hard after a while. It was hard on me. I had to do a lot of leaning on Him, and I'm thinking that was kind of the point for him. I might have collapsed several times if I tried to stick it through on my own. 

That's me down there in the dark blue hat. 

We also did VBS. That was difficult for me, because -- full disclosure -- I don't like kids. I have siblings. I enjoy my siblings. But I don't enjoy babysiting, or watching kids, or whatever. Kids are not my thing. Combine that with the fact that these kids only spoke Spanish and we had one translator...it was crazy, guys. But we survived. Maybe not sane, but we lived.

It was also tough mentally/emotionally/spiritually. I'm not sure why, but it was a struggle for me. I had some things to work through, apparently, and a lot of that got thrown at me over the course of the week. So I can't truthfully say that the missions trip was awesome or the best thing ever or whatever else people expect you to say when they ask you on the Sunday morning after. Amazing, yes. Life-changing, yes. Needed, yes. But definitely difficult. And I think that was important for me to get. 

I learned about leaning on something I can't see, even when it's scary. I got pushed to some physical limits and I wouldn't have made it if I hadn't learned how to put it all on something beyond myself. 

I learned about trusting God. Which is, yes, hard for me. We went out and prayed for random people on the last few days and I was asked to pray and that's scary for me. When you're looking at someone who lives in a one-room house out in the middle of nowhere with a job you can't even imagine doing for so little pay, suddenly the usual Sunday-school prayer isn't going to cut it. Some of the words that came out of me were not my own. I had to trust that God would give me the words to say to these people, and He did.

Here's VBS. Let's not talk about how hot it was. 
I learned about how the little things are important. We all want to go on a missions trip and lead someone to Christ, but that didn't happen for me. I played with kids. I talked to people (awkwardly. I know basically no Spanish). I bonded with some of the other teams that were there, and that was important, too. I had some time alone admiring God's creation. We worshiped with them there and it was the most natural church service I've ever been so, even though here in America we might laugh at it for not being organized enough.

I was reminded, again, that I can do things at home too. That it's not about what you do while you're there as much as it is about what you do with what you learned when you get back.

It was tough for me, but I saw God work through that.

Also, we ate good food. That was pretty awesome.

Have you ever gone on a missions trip (overseas or otherwise)? Where did you go? Let's discuss. 


12 comments

  1. I am terrified of kids. Which is weird because I have ten siblings and several nephews and a niece that I adore. But I always feel like other kids are making fun of me, or judging me, or /something/.
    I haven't ever been on a mission trip, although I want to go sometime. It sounds like a lot of work, but it also sounds worth it.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  2. I've been on one mission trip before, although I realized then that it wasn't for me. I had the best possible experience one could have, and even so, I realized that it was not where I wanted to be. Still, I'm glad that you have a heart for missions and I hope you get to do more awesome work as you get older! I think the important thing is that you do get out of your comfort zone and come to rely on God a little more—and maybe you don't like kids (you and me both, sister) and aren't a construction person by trade and are in a foreign place and don't know what you're doing, but you're still there to share a message and to be changed yourself. And that's what matters. :) Thanks for sharing your trip with us, Aimee!

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  3. I loved hearing about your mission trip experience, Aimee!
    My older sister is currently on a mission in Panama, and I think it is something that I would like to look for in the future. She's been there for about a year, and sometime's it's hard because I miss her, but I know that the people there need her more than I do right now.I love how you said that you realized that there are things you can do at home. I think that, a lot of the time, it's the little kindnesses that can change someone's life.
    And good food is always a bonus. :P
    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    -Bailey

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    1. Erm- this is rather embarrassing- but I failed to mention in the comment above that I tagged you for The Tag of Happiness. So, here is the link if you are interested:
      http://thecuriositycollections.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-tag-of-happiness.html
      Thank you. That will be all. :P

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  4. This is amazing, Aimee! I'm so glad the Lord challenged you in many ways. I know it's tough, mainly to trust when there are so many uncertainties, but it is definitely worthwhile in the end. Through all the trials, our strength comes from Him, and we must always remember that. I personally haven't been on a missions trip with my church, but I have wanted to for a long time. I'm waiting on the Lord's time and will meanwhile prepare emotional, physically, and spiritually for it. God bless!

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  5. *APPLAUSE*
    I am impressed by you, and also glad that you were able to serve and become closer to God.
    I think I've had experiences somewhat like that before, but I honestly can't remember why I think that... XD
    *hugs*

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  6. Awesome! Growing in God is always a struggle, especially when already thrown into unfamiliar situations.

    I have a hard time praying for people out loud too. Or just praying out loud in general. I feel like a three year old, because I word things so poorly when I speak.

    I went on a missions trip a long time ago to Canada. That was really amazing! I was on a team that did VBS, which was really good for me. To be honest, I was kind of relieved, because I can't talk to other people very well. I'm incredibly awkward and don't know how to keep a conversation moving. But I can talk to kids (actually, most of the time you can let them do all the talking). So we did crazy songs, Bible lessons, and games all week long. I learned a lot, just from watching these kids and knowing their backgrounds. The way they treated their siblings and even each other. Siblings always got along well, like they were best friends. Everyone got along with each other for the most part. They would tease each other sometimes, but only in joking, and they always seemed to encourage each other when they needed it. Even though some of them were very different, these kids acted like a family of their own.

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  7. This is awesome! I've tried to go on several mission trips in the past, but there've been complications (which gives me an idea for a blog post...). But looking back, I recognize that I've been kept from the trips for a reason. Me not being able to go on a mission trip to South Korea pushed me to start The Power, which has insanely changed me.

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  9. I have been on two mission trips with small teams from my youth group, one to El Salvador a couple years ago and one to New York (specifically, Jackson Heights) in June. It was hard, especially since I'm an absolute failure at talking to people, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I can definitely say that it's life changing to go on a trip like that, and I dearly hope that our team made a positive difference in someone's life.
    The trip to NY was especially challenging, because basically everything we did terrified me in some way. I learned a lot about relying on God that week.

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  10. It’s so good to know about your trip and seem quite interesting already. I am also thinking to take my family on a trip to Miami. I would like to celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary at one of local event space Miami. Getting goosebumps even with thinking about it.

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hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.