See how God used our Project Go! volunteers this summer as they served in Peru, Guatemala, Kenya, Honduras, Russia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and the U.S./Mexico border.
Peru: Love takes many forms
Before this trip, Victoria, Katie, and I knew the urgency of the great commission and took the command to love orphans seriously. It’s why we signed up in the first place. Since we had each been waiting and praying from the moment we decided to go to Peru, we were ready to put our words and planning into action.
But after our first day with the kids, I realized I never could have imagined what one day of serving would do to my perspective on the Gospel and on missions. All the planning, reading, thinking or discussing never could have prepared me for what happened. That day, our mission received a face.
And what a precious face, isn't it? At Sagrada Familia, a privately-operated group foster home in an impoverished area, our mission took the shape of many faces, many names, many voices calling for attention, many arms reaching for hugs, and many lives begging for love.
We are so happy to serve in whatever capacity is needed and are learning that love takes many forms. Mixing paint. Priming walls. Sweeping the floor. Tracing tiny hands. Taking a picture. Drawing with chalk. Telling a story. Giving a hug (or 500). Listening to a secret (that you can't understand). Giving out stickers.
Be His hands. Be His feet.
Hannah McSween was a Project Go volunteer from Knoxville, Tenn. She served with Buckner in Peru during June.
Dominican Republic: Seeing things with new eyes
My time thus far in the Dominican Republic has been a whirlwind! The country, people, and kids are beautiful. I am in love.
I have gotten the opportunity to teach English to these sweet children in the Community Transformation Center. When we were driving in for the first time to teach, I saw dilapidated buildings and poverty all around. It honestly did not phase me much. I have been to other countries. I have seen poverty. So I went on with my business of teaching English.
During the first few days, we decided to walk around the community with a few of the children. They were so excited to take us to their houses. As we walked, the poverty around us began to sink in.
We came to E’s house. She was so proud to have us there, and her family invited us in. The four of us barely fit in the living room area. Curtains made up the makeshift walls, and the materials their house was built from were anything but sturdy. They were so welcoming, but we only stayed for a few minutes.
Experiencing poverty like I saw that day puts things into perspective. I knew poverty existed in the community, but before I ever saw the poverty, I saw the children. I have been teaching them for two days, and they come dressed fairly nice. They are so happy and eager to learn, so I wasn’t expecting what I saw.
It broke my heart to see where these children live. But despite the poverty, these children have such pure hearts full of joy to learn and experience life. Their outlook is much different than yours and mine. It has encouraged me to look at things in a new light.
Laren Lewis was a Project Go intern in the Dominican Republic.
Russia: Building relationships
Some of us spent the past week at Orphanage No. 14 playing "futbol" (soccer) and basketball with boys who have unlimited energy. Others spent hours playing Uno and trying to keep up with the ever-changing rules. Still others spent their days making friendship bracelets for their many new friends!
But the week was so much more than these activities. Within each activity was a window of opportunity—a window for establishing relationships, a window in which we could freely give our friendship, our love and ourselves and a window for planting a seed of God's truth, love and hope.
The first seed we had the privilege to see grow was in a 12-year-old boy named Andre. When we shared Bible stories, he was quick to speak up with both right and wrong answers and questions. Our conversations with him paid off when he understood that his place in God's family was not temporary, but was forever affirmed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This joy of finally having a permanent family was revealed when he ran up and told Sally she was his big sister and he was forever her little brother through Christ.
Sixteen-year-old Alec was searching for a purpose beyond himself. While the other boys were preoccupied with sports and cards, Alec pressed us for answers to deep theological questions, like, "How can you have faith in something you can't see?" and, "Isn’t living a good life enough to go to heaven?"
Our window for working with Alec this month may be closed, but our prayer is that God will keep the window open for coming teams until he has found his place in God's family.
Interacting with the older girls at the beginning of the week was tough, but our team's prayers were answered through the softening of their hearts as the week progressed. There was much discussion of boys, make up and nail polish, but intertwined with those typical girl topics were the topics of Jesus Christ, God's lasting love and true beauty.
One of the older girls, Tanya, made a connection with our team that paved the way for relationships with other girls. Her search for friendship and longing for affection allowed for deeper conversations and a bond that cannot be hindered by distance or language.
Sally, Kalie, Sarah Anne, Elizabeth and Clay: Session One Project Go volunteers in Russia
To read more stories from our Project Go! volunteers or mission trip participants, visit the It's Your Mission blog.
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