February 1 – God at Work Here and There

Home Team and Away Team immersed in prayer. Suitcases filled with toothbrushes and toothpaste, shoes and medicine. Water filters and high efficiency stoves in the houses of the towns and villages around the shore of Lake Atitlan. Medical clinics and children’s programs in Santa Catarina across the lake and Tierra Santa down the road in coffee-growing country. Worship with Pastor Genero’s congregation and prayer and devotions at Spring of Hope every morning. The love of God communicated across the barriers of language and culture – from the north American visitors to the gracious Guatemalan hosts and back again in full measure.

The words are an attempt to provide just a sketch of what may happen next week as nineteen LPC folks head to the highlands of Guatemala for an adventure in mission alongside our Guatemalan partners with Promised Land Ministries. And who are the nineteen? We are some who are making the next of many trips to this familiar place and others who are venturing into a very first experience serving God in a setting so unfamiliar to all we know.

We look expectantly for the ways God will work among, through and in us. God will be at work, not because he works more powerfully on a mission trip, but because he works differently on a mission trip and sometimes the differences allow us to notice the powerful ways he always works. Stripped of distractions, we see what was there all along. A short-term mission trip is not some sort of advanced-faith experience; it may be a remedial experience. Perhaps God keeps calling some of us back because we just don’t seem to get what he wants us to get.

Our mission trip is not primarily about nineteen North Americans traveling to Guatemala, or only about what may or may not be accomplished in Guatemala. It is also about something that will happen in Langhorne and its environs. All that we say about the Home Team and the Away Team being equal though different partners in this endeavor is true. You’ve seen the guide for praying for the Away Team. It’s not the only guide. I have made copies of a list of all Home Team members, 500 or so, for the Away Team to use in their prayers for you.

We need to be in prayer with and for each other for next week to be the faithful and successful experience to which God has called us – the nineteen of us in the clinics and on the construction sites in Guatemala; the 500 of us in the homes and schools, workplaces and neighborhoods of our everyday lives. One of the things next week will be about is God’s people in prayer.

God does use short term mission experiences, and it is a privilege to participate in this particular short term mission. (We like to say a short-term trip with a long-term commitment as we speak about LPC’s work with PLM in Guatemala.)  God will be at work here and there; inside and outside. In addition to clinics, kids and construction, I am looking forward to God’s work inside each of the nineteen of us (the prayer guide reminds you of who we are).

This is part of what I have written as an introduction to the devotional booklet we will be using in Guatemala:

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away…”  (Matthew 25:14-15 ESV)

We are familiar with the parable and how the good and faithful servants make wise use of wealth entrusted to them. In our case, we are the ones going on a journey, but like the servants we have been entrusted with wealth, not just money but literal talents – gifts and abilities. In fact, I think we are a group of five talent travelers.

My guess is that most of us can name some of our five talents, but that we do not know all of them. One of the many joys of serving on the Away Team, is the unique opportunity this immersion in the culture and work of a faraway place gives us to discover some of our talents.  Again, to tweak the parable just a bit, we may find a talent or two buried in the rich volcanic soil of the Guatemalan highlands.

Each of us on the Away Team will be challenged to unearth one more talent or gift God has given him or her. The gifted physician may discover a talent for working with children. The talented construction worker may discover an ability to guide a fellow team member or a Guatemalan friend deeper into the ways of God in his or her life. The person who is so good with children may discover a passion for learning a new language or sharing with adults. And a pastor who has been on more international mission trips than he can remember may discover an ability he never knew he had. Maybe I’ll sing a solo.

You will be receiving periodic “Guatemala Diary” updates during the week. Please read them. Please pray for us. We will be praying for you.

Won’t see you Sunday, but on Sunday, February 10, you just may hear some about talents discovered and used. Maybe I will sing a solo. Or maybe not.

Oh, and I hope to hear some of the stories of the Home Team in prayer. God at work here and there.