Last year, after countless months of hoping, I at last had the opportunity of going on a week long missions trip. Me and one of my brothers, five others from our youth group, and three adults, all in two minivans, made the trip down through Arizona and across the border.
It was my first out-of-country trip, and I was really excited. We were going to attend a Christian Youth camp, and also we would be visiting a couple of the churches in the area. I didn’t much know what to expect, but God had opened all the doors for me to be there and I knew it would be amazing.
After I got back, I wrote this:
My First Missions Trip
Of all the souvenirs I brought back from Mexico, my favorite is a small red rock the size of a ping pong ball. It may look like an ordinary rock, something you might find in a creek. But to me it has much more worth.
Our last night in Mexico had been pure chaos. It was Sunday afternoon and we were driving from Obregon to Navajoa, Sonora. First, we got a flat tire. We had to stand outside in the dirt & sun while it was being changed. Then, when we got back on the road, we got pulled over by cops, five of them, with AR-15s and mean looks on their faces. We were almost late for church. During the service, a dust storm picked up. The room filled, windows rattled and a door slammed. I looked down at my Bible and there was a layer of dust on it. Lightening flickered, thunder rumbled in the distance, and it began to rain. In fact, the rain pounded so loudly on the metal roof that even though the speaker yelled into the mic, we couldn’t hear him very well. When my friends and I went up to sing, we were halfway through the first verse when the power went out. The lights flickered and went out, and we couldn’t see our music.
But I never look back on that night thinking of all the things that went wrong. Instead, I see how half of the church went forward to pray, a lot of them in tears. I remember all of our newly made friends crowding around us with gifts, handshakes and hugs goodbye. Random people coming up to me and rambling along in Spanish, thanking me for coming. Piling into the Church van at 10 pm, laughing and sitting on each others’ laps. Eating tacos at a hard table, everyone tired and laughing at the smallest things. Driving back to the church and falling asleep on the cement floors, smiles still on our faces.
The next morning, under a cloudy morning sky, we prepared to leave Navajoa. Mr. P___ gathered us in a circle.
“What is this?” he asked, and held up a smooth grey rock.
We caught on quickly. It wasn’t just a rock: it was a rock from Navajoa. While we all stood and listened, Mr. P___ told the story of how after crossing the Jordan river, Joshua and the people set up stones as a memorial. That way, when their children asked, “what are those stones?” they could reply, “well, let me tell you what the Lord did for us here.”
Mr. P___ had us all pick one up. I looked down at my feet, and immediately a red one caught my eye. I turned it over and over in my hands as we said a prayer and pulled away, the clouds still filling the sky and reflecting the sadness of leaving that I felt inside.
And that is why this little red rock means so much to me. It reminds me not only of the dear friends and memories I made, but also of the great things God did for us there.