Thursday, July 29, 2010

My first mission trip experience!

I have been so exhausted this week! I'm usually an insomniac, but I'm lucky to make it past 9pm on most nights this week.

Not only was Dubai my first trip abroad, but it was also my first mission trip!

We got to Dubai late on Friday night. Saturday we were able to fit in some touristy stuff (more on that tomorrow) before getting ready to set up for the conference on Sunday.

Sunday morning we were able to worship as a team together before everyone started arriving. A few of the missionary families were already there and they got to share with our team a little bit about the folks who would be joining us in a few short hours. We got to learn more about the dangerous environments they serve in, the hardships they have faced over the last few years, and more about what their lives are like.

After that our campus worship leader lead us in two of my most favorite songs. I could feel God in that room. We were stuck in the basement of this hotel in a city thousands of miles from home, in a country very different and much less free than my own. I was overcome with emotion as I sang the words to the songs. Tears were streaming down my face and I dared not look around or sniffle because you know how I feel about crying in public. It was bad enough that the guitar player and worship leader could see me! (I later confessed this to one of the other girls on the trip and she was like "me too!")

After that we got a great teaching from one of our elders on one of my favorite topics about losing your life for Christ. Luke 17:33- "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." I memorized a verse similar to that earlier this year. It basically means if you are willing to lose your life for Christ and give up your wants and needs to follow Him, you will find Him and the life only He can give you!

Anyway, he told the story of Lot's wife. If you do not know the story, basically Lot lived in a town called Sodom. God was going to destroy the town because of all the evil things the people were doing there. Two angels came and told Lot to take his family and flee the city immediately because God was going to destroy it. Lot's daughters were both engaged to be married, so you know a wedding was in the works. Imagine being told a week before the wedding to pack up in the middle of the night and flee the city you have planned your daughter's weddings in because it is about to be destroyed. The angels warned Lot's family to not look back. On the way out of the city, Lot's wife looked back at the city burning and was turned into a pillar of salt. This story is meant to reinforce how important it is to follow God's call and not cling to your comfy life. Follow God and don't look back. It was a good message to hear right before meeting all these people who had done just that with their lives.
My 2nd suitcase was donated
so they could carry back
supplies with them

We spent the rest of the day unpacking supplies we had brought over and setting up our rooms. Let me tell you, turning a bland hotel room into a classroom for preschoolers is not easy. The hotel staff was great though. They took out furniture and brought additional tables and chairs as we requested them. We did the best we could and luckily it worked out pretty well throughout the week!

The medical team set up their supplies and went shopping for anything they couldn't bring over. The music team and teachers set up the conference room to get ready for a week of worship and teaching. We put gift bags in each of the missionaries rooms and after we were finished hung out in the lobby so we could welcome them when they arrived. It was a busy afternoon!

Every day we had preschool with the kids. We had them for about 4 hours every morning and some of the nights so the parents could have teaching time, worship time, and game night or date night. We taught them songs, did a lesson, played games, did crafts, snacks, etc. One day we even took them to the pool! Everyday I could not get the songs out of my head. They each had hand motions that went with them and the kids were supposed to perform them for their parents at the end of the week, so we sang them about 50 times a day. "God loves you and me" and "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty" were on constant repeat in my head and still are stuck in there almost a week later!

Kids are exhausting! I have a new found respect for parents because kids really wear you out! They constantly have to be doing something, have short attention spans, and so much energy! They were all so sweet and cute though. I was with the 3-4 year olds. We had 2 girls and 3 boys. The boys could get a little rowdy and the girls seemed to be a calming influence on the class. This just re-enforced my want to have 2 little girls someday. I loved them all though. They each had their own little personalities and cuteness factors. Oh I miss them already!

The lesson time was the hardest part. We had to bring the 2 year olds in for it and there was always someone crying, all of them were squirming and itching to get up, siblings were catching up with each other like they hadn't seen each other in years, half the kids weren't paying attention and no one seemed to know what was going on. It was so hard! I don't know how teachers do it!

They did so good with their song during skit night on Friday though! Pure cuteness on display for everyone!

The parents were so appreciative of the childcare offered- especially date night since most of them hadn't had a kid free night in a year!

Most nights we also got to hang out and have more conversations about their work over dinner, cab rides, or late night card games. I loved getting to know all of them and hearing what their lives are like. Before this trip I would have never considered giving up everything here and moving overseas to be a missionary, but now I would. They aren't those people who blindly pass out Bibles or just do good works and not give any glory to God. They have regular jobs over there (most of them in some kind of "helping" capacity) and they just live their lives in an Christian way and build relationships that naturally lead to sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard it. They aren't those "Crazy Christians" I had in my head when I thought of "Evangelists" and the like.

The last two days were sad. I didn't want it to end. The last night we had skits and songs from the kids and students. The high schoolers did this one skit at the end that had me in tears again. I found a similar one on the Internet and theirs was about the same, but for some reason so much better:

Saturday I tried to soak up all the time I could with the preschoolers during class so I would never forget them. I gave them all big hugs and told them I would miss them so so much!

It was like living in an alternate universe last week. I miss my team already. I miss the kids. I wish I could have had more time with the missionaries to hear all their stories. My first mission trip was a success and it definitely won't be my last.


Sam said...

Sounds amazing. How fun (and challenging) to work with five 3-4 year olds. And to know you are giving the parents a break at the same time. It really seems like a life changing experience!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

This sounds so awesome!!!!! I would really love to do something like this someday!

:: Jenna :: said...

wow what an amazing experience! always wanted to go to dubai as well :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.