The opportunity to join a Blessback missions trip to Nicaragua was an easy decision. Though this would be the first time I would participate in a trip like this, I was fairly certain I knew what to expect. Growing up on the border of Mexico in Texas, I witnessed a lot of what most people have to travel across the world to see. So in my head I'm pretty sure I said something to the effect of, "I've got this." What I didn't have a hold of, though, was how to prepare for the greater work the Holy Spirit wanted to do, beyond what I could have planned for myself. I've found that as soon as we get in a place of comfort, God will find a way to show us there's a higher place He wants to take us.
For me, this occurred the afternoon our trip's team partnered with Samaritan's Feet to distribute shoes to a poor church community in a remote Nicaraguan village. I'm all about practical application, so this event was right up my alley. People with a need for shoes? We then give shoes. Done. Well, there was another component. Along with sizing shoes, we were also to wash the feet of the individual. Ugh, not a fan. I'm all for acting like Jesus, but I'm very leery of over-spiritualized acts. "Maybe I could be in the background organizing shoes or something to get out of this duty," I thought. In preparation for the day, our team leader led the morning devotional with a teaching on the purpose of washing another's feet. I was like 1/2 listening until I heard my name called... apparently I had been chosen as one of 5 women to be honored that morning in having my feet washed. I wanted to run for the hills. As I watched the faces of the other women visibly touched to the point of tears, I wondered what was wrong with me as I felt stoic.
Fast forward past trekking (literally) up to this village by foot since our bus couldn't navigate the rugged dirt roads. I may have blacked out because for some reason I volunteered to be apart of the first group to wash feet. Earlier the leaders had handed out Spanish cheat-sheets for phrases to use with the villagers. I know some conversational Spanish, so again thought, "I've got this". It won't surprise you when I say, in retrospect, that I actually didn't have a clue of the work God was doing.
The very first person I met to wash their feet was a middle-aged woman with a kind face. As I washed her worn, dirt-ridden feet, I was able to talk to her for a moment but still felt there was a large language barrier... I wasn't sure how to make small talk with someone from such a different world than me, especially in Spanish. After we got her feet washed and new shoes donned, I asked if I could pray with her in English. She nodded, as if to say that the Spirit would tell her what I was saying. As I began to pray, the Holy Spirit welled up inside me, and I couldn't control the tears that followed. The lady began lifting her hands and praying in tongues along with my English words. It was then that I knew our spirits were connected deeply through the Holy Spirit; without knowing the words I prayed she knew exactly what I was saying. Doubt, pride, and self-sufficiency fell away as I allowed God to strip me of myself so that He could work through me in a greater way to minister to this precious lady. It happened a second time with a little boy around 8 years named Nathan who had a slight head tremor. I felt God call me to declare strength and a specific calling of God over this boy's life. Again, I began weeping as the Spirit overtook me, and I was undone with humility.
God uses us where we are. He uses hearts, like mine, who haven't surrendered fully. He uses hearts who unknowingly place limitations on God's work. During my week with Blessback God used me to love on children, play with them, and teach them about the Bible. He used me to help teach CPR to local women and to visit sick, broken bodies living in unimaginable circumstances. He used me to encourage my team as I led a devotional. But God also asked me to lay down my pride as he worked IN and subsequently THROUGH me. He used the setting of this 3rd world country to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit inside me is the same Holy Spirit that longs to reside in the heart of all men. My prayer for you is that you would be willing to go. Like Isaiah, hear the voice of the Lord and say, "Here I am, send me!"
One of my absolute favorite songs summarizes the prayer of my heart well: "Make my life the life I've been created to live. God, help me to go, and follow where you lead me so all nations will know the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of this world. Hallelujah." (Cloverton)