Wow, this last week has been long, but incredible. From the time we left the parking lot the devil was trying to stop our trip and it was clear why. I do not think a single one of our kids did not leave this trip feeling closer to God than when we left. Anyone looking for a place to take teens for an incredible week of missions should seriously consider Manna D.R.
But since I have daily updates on my Facebook (which I will soon turn into a blog post recap), this is going to be a bit more on what I learned from this trip. I am going to narrow it down to some of the major lessons I learned, because to write everyone would turn into a small book.
1) Teens are the church of today:
So often today we are told that the teens are the church of tomorrow and we must prepare them for that. After this week, I watched teens do more for the kingdom than many adults do and loved every second they served. I do not say this to knock adults in the church, but to state that today’s teens are more than able to be part of the church today and can lead with responsibilities if we equip them to do so. Not only did the teens on my team knock it out of the park, but the interns with Manna were all 18-20 as well and they led the majority of our events this week!
2) Learn to prioritize what is important:
The people in the Dominican Republic, like many other 3rd world countries, have so much less than anyone in America does yet they were so much happier than we are. The average family we saw in the D.R. was far below what we consider to be poor in America. I know that poverty is a serious thing here, but my point is that we can learn to be content in what we have instead of always needing the next new thing.
3) Be selfless, be at peace, and be joyful:
In full transparency, I stole this little saying from something I read recently, but I believe these 3 themes are intertwined and vital. Rather than always looking to improve themselves, I watched the people of the D.R. willingly give what little they had to bless others and live open handed. This selflessness was such a peaceful way of life where they were not always striving to get a leg up in the world and brought about true joy.
4) Love transcends language barriers:
On this trip I watched all 15 other people on my team love on teens and have their hearts broken when they had to say goodbye. The time we spent at the children’s home and in the VBS outreaches are invaluable even if we hardly spoke Spanish, the hardly spoke English, and any real verbal interaction required translators. Yet with all the language barriers present, the love that grew between our team and those we interacted with was amazing and transcends language barriers.
5) The mission field never ends:
Finally, the mission field never ends. While our time in Bobita came to an end in a fast 7 days, we still come home to the United States where the mission is the same. While some of the serving which we did was more needed in the D.R. than in the states, the deepest need of the Dominicans is the same that Americans need – Jesus. The greatest need of every human being is Jesus Christ and that mission field we can serve in wherever we go.
This trip was incredible and I am super proud of our whole team. This is the 5 big lessons I learned from the position of being in charge and I hope to share with you. Missions are important and we are all called to go, hopefully you can take my insights and apply them to wherever you are going local or abroad.