By: McCarley Thomas, Lipscomb Softball RHP
I cannot lie. For the past week I have thoroughly enjoyed tap water, flushing toilet paper, and ice in my drinks. But at the same time, so many things have felt very wrong. My bed has felt too big. My air-conditioning has felt too cool. And my body has felt too clean at the end of each day. Each night as I begin to go to bed, my mind wanders to a dusty, little town three hours south of Ensenada in Baja California. As I brush my teeth, I think of children’s smiles that were so permanent throughout the week. As I wash my face, I think of the closeness to our God that we experienced in so many ways in a matter of seven days. And as my head hits the pillow, I think of the promise of seeing these wonderful, God-fearing people again one day. Needless to say, the seven days our team spent with the people of Colonet, BC changed all of us. Those of you who have been on mission trips know that I could type for days and never truly share with you the experiences we encountered. With that being said, I would like to attempt to give you glimpses of our journey so that you might understand the joy and love we all continue to experience thanks to the beautiful people of Colonet.
JOY: From the moment we first entered the church at Diaz Ordaz on that Sunday morning to worship with the people there, we were greeted by the preacher’s wife with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We welcomed this greeting every single time we drove through the gate to the church for the rest of the week. She seemed to have a joy that simply radiated from inside of her, and she was definitely not the only one who had this joy. Everyone we met greeted us with a smile on their face and genuine gladness that we had found our way to their home, church, or wherever we may have been that day. The people in Colonet had so many reasons to be unhappy with their situations. Instead, they experienced contentment with their circumstances which lead to a genuine joy in situations that we often take for granted.
GENEROSITY: On Wednesday we had the incredible opportunity to visit the homes of the people on the community. These people had nothing, but they wanted to give us everything. We were all blown away by the fact that we left no home empty handed. From fruit fresh from the tree to a full blown meal made for over twenty people, the people of Colonet showed us what it was like to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus. They gave freely, loved openly, and shared with us so much even when it seemed that they had nothing to give. I would also like to tie into this section the idea of service. We embarked on this trip with the intention of serving the people of Colonet. Before we could even think of serving them, they beat us to the job. From cooking us meals to inviting us into their homes, the people there served without asking for a single thing in return. On Monday and Tuesday, we were given the opportunity to paint two homes and the church building in Colonet. We were all more than excited to finally have the opportunity to serve these wonderful people who had served us so selflessly all week. They served us just as generously as they gave, and it is something I will never forget.
LOVE: Love became such an active thing this week. It was something that was done, given, and received. Love goes beyond all barriers of language, skin color, and any other restriction that could hinder it from its purpose. Love was created to actively flow from one person to the next, and the children we experienced this week were the greatest example of this type of love. Each day we took the children through a softball clinic that ended with a game. Through a game that many of them had never played, the children showed us what it was like to love someone you barely know. They gave us hugs, laughter, and joy, and all they wanted in return was our time. Bob Goff, the author of what is quickly becoming one of my favorite books, sums it up in four words. “Simply Put: Love does.” Let me tell you, this week love did so many things.
GOD: If I have said it once, I have said it hundreds of times since we have been home. God was so, very present throughout our trip. A moment occurred on Tuesday evening that made us all more aware of His presence than any of us were prepared for. We sat on a cliff having just witnessed a perfect sunset into the Pacific Ocean. As we prayed, sang, shared our testimonies, and grew closer to one another, God made Himself known through the blanket of stars that appeared above our heads. We were pouring out our love to God, and He was returning immediately. Not only did He show us His presence, He is good and gracious enough to return it in a way that we could understand. I do not have the time to share with you all of the other ways in which we saw God this week, but I would like to share one more encounter. As we stood in the church and the homes of the members, we spent time praising God through songs and prayers. We also saw God through the songs and prayers being lifted simultaneously in two different languages. Our God is so good that he heard every word raised from every heart of each individual person, Spanish and English.
God provided us with a trip this week that has changed all of our lives for the better. I am eternally grateful to everyone who poured into our team before, during, and even after our trip. I pray that everyone is given an opportunity to go on a trip like the one our team embarked upon a week ago. We are closer to each other on a level beyond anything we could have experienced on the field. We grew closer to each other through the love, joy, and generosity of our God and His people. If anything, this experience has taught our team the active power of our living God. I pray fervently now that God crosses our paths with these people again on this earth. I pray that we may be willing vessels like Isaiah was in the sixth chapter of His book. I pray that we may find the courage to wholeheartedly look at God and say “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). And finally, I pray that we embrace where He may send us, for when we ask, He will send us.