Foreign Mission projects and letters
The following essay was written by Isai Perez, one of my students this last class session, about his experience at MOVE. He asked for my help translating and editing and gave me permission to share. Isai just arrived to Bolivia and will be in charge of the food services at the Familia Feliz orphanage for the next six months. He got some practice on his class mission trip as his classmates chose him to be in charge of food services (See attached photo).
All Roads Lead Home
All roads lead home. I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.
For some reason, different feelings had ended in tears that night. I felt I could not continue the same life I had when there was something better, but to leave my dreams for something completely new? I was really scared.
"All roads lead home?" What does that mean? Somehow I kept thinking about that phrase. Roads? Home? Ha ha ha. I laughed at myself for a moment. “Foolishness!” I hissed through my teeth.
At that moment I received a message: "Hello friend, are you ready to come start a new adventure with Jesus?" The truth is that it took me two days to answer that message. I was afraid to leave everything to go to a little missionary training school in Belize.
That week one of the most important people in my life disappeared, leaving a great pain in my heart. My sadness was so noticeable that my parents were worried. So I decided to answer the message and asked the directors if I could arrive a week early. They said yes, and I bought my bus ticket for the next day. It hurt a lot to say goodbye to my family. I had been home with them for a full year while I recuperated from a surgery that had taken me away from college. I saw my parents crying and I felt my little sister’s arms holding tight to my leg as a last hug. Sadness enveloped me for a moment as I boarded the bus and tears began to roll down my cheeks.
"All roads lead home" the phrase interrupted my tears, but I could not understand. What ways? What home? I'm leaving my home. I told myself. Maybe if I got married I could go to my home. I retorted sarcastically. And thinking about all this I fell asleep.
Finally I got to MOVE. Everything was very different. The people were very friendly. I liked it so much that I started to forget about my problems and that confusing phrase that had plagued my thoughts. Until one evening when the principal said, “I had the opportunity to visit my family but I am happy to be home again.” When she said that I remembered that she had referred to MOVE as her home before, and it had confused me a little. But now I was really perplexed!
The rest of the students arrived later that week. They came from Belize, Canada, the U.S., Chile, Mexico, and Guatemala! MOVE suddenly had more life than usual. We were all waiting, we did not know what was waiting for us, but we knew what we wanted, to serve and to know God more.
During the first week of our new life at MOVE, we had the opportunity to hear each other’s stories, or many would say testimonies. Through them we could see that God had led us all in different ways, and that MOVE had been our choice. For many of us it was a drastic decision to come to MOVE. But we could not deny that it was the best decision. Each testimony told of a sea of troubles, suffering, despair, anguish, pain and confusion. We all had the desire to leave all those problems in the hands of the only One who was willing to give his life for us, Jesus Christ, and He had led us step by step to this decision.
"-All Roads Lead Home" I said to myself again, but still could not understand exactly what that meant.
All of us chose from four different elective classes: mechanics, construction, education or health. We had a tight schedule of school, work, visits to the local churches and other activities. Each of us had to preach twice, give four Bible studies and direct two small groups.
A smile could be seen on our faces, teamwork was one of our good qualities, we all seemed to be synchronized, and any problems around us seemed intangible for the moment. I liked this new life; apparently everything was perfect! Something that really caught my attention is that everyone ran: from breakfast to classes, classes to lunch, lunch to work, from work to dinner in the evening and many more activities.
But as the days passed, my smile began to fade. Fear and fear of loneliness began to pervade my heart and soul. Each of us began to act differently, as activities and responsibilities began to be a burden and a challenge for most of us. Pride and self-sufficiency was our greatest enemy. We really had many talents in different areas and that knowledge was our own shadow.
After the first month of classes, we had a survival campout in the bush as part of our Practical Skills class. We had to meet several conditions in order to win certain pantry items for the campout. One condition was to keep our garden areas clean and free of pests. Also we had to present our homework and tasks on time, and complete certain challenges that our teacher gave us in order to win the necessary points. Finally the awaited day arrived. We got ready to pray and head out.
That weekend marked us all. Lack of organization, communication and our pride emerged from our shadows. It was a hard blow to see how low many of us had fallen. From that point on the challenges were increasingly difficult and the activities even more numerous.
Soon a new challenge began. We had to plan a mission trip that takes place at the end of the course, and would test our knowledge gained during the three months. Most importantly, it would test our trust in God.
We had to choose among ourselves who would be in each of the 17 different responsibilities as director, secretary, treasurer, food services, accommodations, evangelism, health, and transportation, among others. We began to pray together each for our trip, but sadly we were still not able to achieve unity among ourselves. We did not give up, however, and God did not abandon us. Little by little I could see the hand of God working in us. But negativism and pride were also still present.
It was in those days when my spirits fell, and I touched the depths of my ocean of loneliness and sadness. For a few days I forgot everything, and many noticed it. I felt that part of me had died. I could not see clearly. And when I was just about to give up and go home, I told myself “All roads lead home.” Again that phrase resounded in my mind, although I still could not quite understand.
Another week had passed; both the good and the mistakes were history. What have you really done to improve and to overcome? Or do you just settle for what you thought was good? I asked myself. The truth is that often we stop so long to lament missed opportunities that we don’t see other opportunities open before us. When you cannot run, jog. Jog when you cannot walk. When you cannot walk normally, use a cane but never stop. Life is uphill. Never give up! Always go ahead, with confidence in God because that will bring success.
Despite all our weaknesses, God had great plans for all of us. Despite our differences, our faith in God kept us together. We were 17 students with 17 pasts and 17 different stories. Is that what that phrase “All Roads Lead Home” meant? I wondered, but it still didn’t quite make sense and I sighed but still hoped to discover the meaning.
The days passed quickly and there was so much to do. We only had three weeks to complete the three months at MOVE. We were one week away from the mission trip. Our destination was San Pedro Columbia Belize. We were all worried because we had no money. But that week all 17 or us joined in the morning to pray and beg God's direction. Despite our stress and concern for the trip, God began to make changes in us, and at the same time He graciously began to give us what we needed for the trip.
It was Monday, November 6 at 4:47 in the morning when we started our trip. We were all waiting to see what would happen. I am more than certain that God watches over his children and all those who decide to leave everything to follow Him. He provided the money that we needed at the last minute.
The mission trip was a success. The people of San Pedro Columbia could see something different, and expressed interest in hearing the Word of God. We did construction, mechanics and health fairs. We went out to visit people in the Mayan village. We distributed books and had a campaign in the local church as well as a Vacation Bible School for children. Thank God we had about 90 children in the last few nights. God blessed us greatly and was with us at all times. He kept making changes in us, and despite the difficulties we could feel peace. We were now sure that God made up for our needs.
After the mission trip we only had one week left. The three months had come to an end. I could not avoid the nostalgia at the thought that I would no longer see my new friends. I was afraid because now we had to split up to go to the mission field for 6 months or maybe more. We did not have the money or any idea of how we would get to our destinations. What we did know was that God would continue to provide and help us at all times.
“All roads lead to home” I told myself again, but this time I knew that my home is not on this earth, my home is a place I can not even imagine. My home is where Jesus is, no matter who I was, what I did wrong, if I am poor, or do not have a degree. It does not matter my skin color or the country I come from, God loves me and accepts me as I am and is willing to give me the peace that the world denies me. He died for me, died for you and is willing to carry our burdens. He is willing to change the direction of our road, and take us home to His heavenly kingdom. Yes, all roads lead home, if we trust in God with all our heart. If we let Him direct our paths, soon we will enjoy eternal life and happiness.
“I'm with you, I will protect you wherever you go. Do not be afraid or discouraged, be strong and brave I command you,” God says. He will never leave us alone.
We were 17 students in our last weekend in MOVE. For us, MOVE was a drastic decision, a 180 ° change. We cannot deny that it has been the best decision. Each of us is a witness to the living proof of the miracles of the great love of God in us. We all have the desire to go out and tell others about the love of Jesus who gave His life for us on the cross of Calvary. Now I have a new challenge: to follow Jesus without flinching, without looking back: to leave everything for the One who gave His life for me.