Since the first of the year, friends have asked where we are going on our summer mission trip. In recent weeks, it’s been, “When are you leaving for your mission trip?” They always know it will be teaching English using the Bible with Let’s Start Talking‘s FriendSpeak program in another country, yet when I say this is an off-year, they express surprise that we don’t go every year.
Steve and I are not going on a mission trip this summer. Starting in 2004, we have been on international mission trips in even-numbered years. The one exception was my extra trip to Panama in the fall of 2013, when I thought we weren’t going the following summer. I was wrong. We ended up going back to Natal, Brazil, for a four-week project in 2014.
I have loved every project I’ve ever been on, beginning with the three-week one to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1999. At that time, and for the next 12 years, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be returning to Brazil.
But there’s no accounting for where God sends us. We were in Loei and Phuket,Thailand (2004), Suva, Fiji (2006), Bangkok, Thailand (2008), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2010), and Natal, Brazil (2012 and 2014.) All those trips included our son Josh and his family, evolving from one baby to two children. The 2012 project was the culmination of my dream of having all of my children and grandchildren on a mission project together: Josh and family, Kelsey and family. What a joy!
And every trip has been a joy in its own way. The most challenging one simply furnished a stage on which God could show his power brilliantly, going from no readers/students at the first meeting to leaving 100 readers for the church to follow up on. Other projects affirmed the work of the local congregation, as our parties and field trips built bonds between our readers and the local members. And each one strengthened us as Christians–not a reason to go on a mission trip, but a great reward for sharing the gospel in another country.
The biggest bonus for our family personally is that our daughter Kelsey met her husband Stephen on an LST trip to Thailand! She couldn’t recruit a team from her college campus and was allowed to go with her brother’s Purdue University team. Eventually she ended up marrying that Purdue engineer who was on the team.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!