Early this month, our family traveled to Guatemala to serve the orphans and widows in and around the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj.
Deciding to go in the first place was a pretty significant leap of faith.
- As a father and husband, did I think we would be safe in a strange land removed from many of the luxuries we currently enjoy?
- Did I really want to spend my vacation time working instead of relaxing somewhere?
- How were we going to come up with the money necessary to make this trip a reality?
These were just some of the questions that troubled me for weeks as we processed this decision last fall.
Having arrived at the other side of this mission trip, I can tell you that we made it. We were safe. The vacation time from work was well spent. And God provided the funds for this trip in ways that far exceeded our greatest expectations.
Putting the details and impact of this trip into words is challenging to say the least.
We fed 450 poor children. We served 175 widows.
We ministered to several families in need. And we helped missionaries as they searched out opportunities to expand their ministry in Guatemala. There are many stories and interactions that continue to replay in our minds as we process this trip. I know we had an impact on the people of Xenacoj. And I know for certain that this trip had an impact on our family.
Since we’ve returned, we’ve been able to share with many about our trip. We share some of these stories which we hope will inspire others to help out and to even consider taking a similar trip of their own. With this in mind, I’d like to offer a few reasons for you to consider taking your family on a mission trip.
- A mission trip is an opportunity to live out the Great Commission as a family. In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to go into ALL the world baptizing and teaching. Serving local to your home is obviously more convenient, and I’d recommend serving in your community as an important discipline for your family. But a mission trip away from home is a great opportunity to “go into ALL the world.”
- A mission trip is a great opportunity to establish of pattern of serving for your family. As parents, we play the most significant role in teaching our children and in helping them to create habits that will be useful for the future. Our trip provided many openings for conversations about serving others, about the poor, and about how our lives will be different as we return from Guatemala. Our kids are already talking about going back. They want to serve. This isn’t by accident.
- A mission trip is an incredible way for your family to see the world. Our kids know the New Jersey Shore. They know the mountains of Vermont. And they’ve been to many places in the Eastern part of the United States. Guatemala is far different than any place they have been before. While we were in Guatemala, they saw active an active volcano and one of the world’s most beautiful lakes (Lake Atitlan). These are experiences they will never forget.
- A mission trip opens your family’s eyes to the rest of the world. Let’s face it. Here in the United States, we live like kings and queens. If you live in the U.S., you are among the most wealthy people in the whole world. In Guatemala, our family saw how most of the world lives. People live in homes with mud and dirt floors. Five or six people sleep on a bed made of plywood the size of your kitchen table. Walls and roofs are patched together with cornstalks and pieces of metal and cardboard. Most people daily battle significant hunger pains. And many do not have access to doctors, dentists, and medicines.
- A mission trip gives your family a heart for others. I confess that I’m selfish and self-centered. I’m more concerned with my wants than the needs of others. This trip changed and challenged me. Our family is praying for the people of Xenacoj on a regular basis. We are figuring out ways that our family can continue to help. And we are calculating a return, so we can wrap our arms around the necks of those we have come to love 2,000 miles from home.
Questions: Have you ever taken a mission trip with your family? If so, how did it impact your family? What’s holding you back from going on a mission trip?
This is a guest post by Jon Stolpe who is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports. Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or his blog.