My mission trip experience to Costa Rica is one in which God taught and reminded me of what is most important to him and an experience in which I will never forget. During the almost three weeks I was in Costa Rica, I had some special experiences of answered prayer and feeling the presence of God at the nightly meetings. God really reminded me of the importance of prayer and the fact that he wants us to come to him in every situation of life throughout this trip. He also reminded me to not place trust in myself or to seek to please others, but to do everything for his honor and glory.
One thing that I started praying for from the onset of our meetings was that God would help me to connect with my church members and be able to help them however I could spiritually, for the leaders of our group always emphasized the importance of making our messages personal and having a connection with our congregations. After preaching the first week, I was starting to feel a little discouraged because I felt like I was simply giving presentations rather than connecting myself and the message with the people. I asked my pastor what I could do to get to know the church better, and on our second Friday evening in Costa Rica I really prayed that God would help me put the pastor’s suggestions into practice and have the time to do so.
Normally when I got to the church each evening I just had enough time to set up my equipment, make sure the program was in order, and eat my dinner quickly before preaching. To my surprise this particular night God allowed me to get everything I needed to get done before delivering the sermon accomplished early enough, to have a good amount of time for greeting and talking to people as they entered into the church. This was a huge answer to prayer for me because connecting with my church was a great burden on my heart. I could truly sense the working of the Holy Spirit in the church that evening.
Another night during my trip God reminded me to not worry about the opinion of others and to seek to please him alone. That night I was accompanied at my church by Darold Retzer, one of the Board of Directors from the Quiet Hour Ministries that worked with my mission group during this trip, and although I did not want him being there to affect me in giving the message, I was a little nervous having him hear me preach and seeing how everything was going at my church site. This evening was just not my night. I kept finding myself looking at the expression on Darold’s face and thinking about how bad he must have thought my preaching was, and both I and my translator were very unfocused throughout the meeting.
I was praying during the entire service for God to help me focus and be concerned only with pleasing him. Sadly I allowed myself to get caught in Satan’s trap of discouragement and let my mind become preoccupied by other people and things. When first reflecting on the night I was upset with myself for not having a different mindset during the meeting, but I realized how easy it is to become distracted or to take your vision away from God. Although this was a rough night for me, I really needed the lesson that God showed me not only at that time but for life in general.
I would definitely go on a mission trip like this again. It is so wonderful getting to share the gospel with people and helping them come to a better understanding of who God is, making friends in other parts of the world, and taking in all the lessons that God teaches you in doing his work. In addition having the opportunity to go back and study our core beliefs helped me to be still and know that He is God. This was more valuable to me than anything else, for I came to see the beauty and depth of the gospel again.
Getting involved in mission work is truly life changing. If you have ever considered doing missionary work I encourage you to not hesitate and get involved in a mission opportunity, and if you have never really given thought to doing missionary work I encourage you to learn more about it and pray to see if God may be calling you to this special service. You will not regret your decision to serve God through missions.
Loren Hall -Student at Southern Adventist University-