No Hay Nada Como La Casa de Uno

Well, I’m happy to announce that I’m alive and well and right back in my cozy, mostly clean little house. Thank you, Lord! I was planning on starting my update on Guatemala out with all the exciting details of the trip, followed by all the amazing God-moments, and capped off with the unbelievable, touching miracle that the Lord performed, leaving you with your jaw on the floor and your eyes moist with tears. Instead, I’ll do my best to make a week of homesick card-playing with the occasional feet-washing thrown in extremely interesting. I'll warn you: It's terribly long!

Last Saturday night, I sucked every hug and kiss possible from my kids and waited as late as I could to tuck them into bed because, come 4am, I was outta here for a week. There were tears, but I pried little hands off of me and steered my thoughts toward other things to keep from having to be pulled out of my house kicking and screaming. I crept out of the house in the dark, wee hours of the morning, just trying to hold it together long enough to actually get on the plane. (I’m still unsure where Jack gets his dramatics from. Clearly, it’s not his mother.)

The main thought going through my mind was, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I did my best to fix my eyes ahead and not behind me and boarded a plane to a third world country. Flying is a strange mixture of scary and exciting for me. An airport teeming with hurried people just screams anticipation to me. But landing on a cloudy, faraway, run-down airport runway screams, “I wanna go home!” But, I couldn’t. So, along with the help of some very patient and strong men, I claimed my 49.8 pound bag, and made my way out the airport doors into a crowd of busy people. I had just been given a welcome to the country which sounded a lot like, “Oh, yeah. You can’t flush the toilet paper here,” but I’m sure was actually, “Bienvenidos!” The first thing that caught my eye as we exited the building was a man with no legs using a skateboard in lieu of a wheelchair and selling pencils. I didn’t know what to do with that, so I just huddled with my group and waited for our ride.

The excitement of entering a completely new environment quickly turned to an attempt to avert insanity as we headed to our hotel, where we would be held captive staying for the next ten hours until we went to bed and headed out the next morning. Honestly, this was one of the hardest parts of the whole week. I felt weird because I was totally out of my element. It was dreary outside, but it didn’t even matter because we weren’t allowed outside anyway. Something about mugging and murder and not wanting us to be a part of it. Party poopers. All that sitting and thinking left plenty of time for wanting to go home and gazing ahead at a whole week of time before my wish would come true. Clearly, I would not make a very hopeful prison inmate.

We passed the day with pizza, fried chicken, and card-playing – the hallmarks of any good mission trip. After the first of many nights where sleep was not easy, we headed to the mountains and the city of Tecpan. At this point, I will go ahead and tell you that I am possibly the worst missionary of all time. I just wanted to get that out of the way so we can all lower our expectations about twelve notches. Much of my time was spent trying to not be overcome with homesickness and forcing myself to do what I had to do despite it not being what I wanted to do.

After weaving up mountain roads complete with mudslides galore and men with machetes, we arrived (in the rain) at the first village where we would deliver new shoes and the Good News. My mind was in overload mode after trying to ignore the rather tight turnaround on a narrow muddy road on the side of a hill, seeing the crowd of people awaiting our arrival, walking in the mud, and entering the dark, sparse building where we were to set up shop. It was actually a relief to finally be able to do something instead of just waiting. But being the totally selfless missionary that I am, I kept having to push back the thought of “Wonder where we’re staying for the next four nights?” after we’d been told that we’d just driven past it, yet I had not just driven past anyplace that was on my list of acceptable places to stay. In case you don’t know, I’m just slightly anal about where I spend the night.

Despite my reservations about our reservations (ha!), I plunged into the work ahead. We set up our benches, buckets of water, scrub brushes, lollipops and shoe bags and the work began. A line of children waited patiently outside in the drizzle, their brown eyes wide with curiosity. I don’t even know why, but my eyes did get a little teary at the sight of them. I remember one little boy in particular. I can’t remember who was washing his feet, but I remember his face. It was plastered with a smile that just wouldn’t stop. His face must have hurt from smiling so big for so long, but he couldn’t help himself. It was gratitude mixed with excitement and I just had to smile back.

Hours later, when we were covered in mud and baby powder, we loaded up again and headed to the dreaded “resort” where we’d be spending the coming days. I was relieved beyond belief when we pulled through the opening in the barbed-wire-topped wall and saw rows of cute little cottages. God was so good to me. I actually loved this little place way more than the hotel we’d been at the night before. And we could actually walk outside whenever we wanted! There was the little issue of it being chilly and not having any heat (or a hot shower), but that I could deal with.

The porch of our cozy little bungalow

We settled into a little routine over the next few days. First we’d wake up and hop out of bed (shivering), get dressed, head down for breakfast and coffee, load up the vans, and head out. Then we’d set up our work area for the day, wash feet, share Jesus with hundreds of people, eat lunch, play Phase 10, eat dinner, play Phase 10, take a freezing cold shower as fast as possible, play more Phase 10, laugh a lot, warm ourselves by the fire, and go to bed. There was the occasional trip to a restaurant for wifi and a snack thrown in there, but that was basically the gist of our days. The last day before we travelled home, we got to visit the beautiful city of Antigua and do a little shopping for souvenirs. And then it was time to head back to the ol’ US of A. In some ways, it flew, but in other ways, it seemed like forever since I’d squeezed Sam’s sweet cheeks.

Washing feet is the “glamorous” job on a trip like this. It’s the one that gets the headlines and the “awww’s” from onlookers. But I actually enjoyed emptying buckets, measuring feet, fetching shoes…all the behind the scenes, administrative type things. And that allowed me to constantly look around the room at faces. I felt more blessed by watching the children’s reactions and the mission team members’ expressions during the whole process. One scene that moved me over and over again was the site of grown men washing children’s feet. It just said “Jesus” to me more than anything else. The guys were so tender and kind, just as Jesus would be in their position, I’m sure.

Happy Feet

Day after day, as we drove into villages, unloaded our stuff, set up the room, organized the children and the shoes, and set to work, God gave me the grace to touch dirty, damaged feet and not be grossed out by it. Day after day, He gave us the chance to see faces changed by the message of Jesus. Day after day, He refocused my homesick heart on the task at hand. Day after day, I saw the kindness and love of Christ through the words, actions, and faces of the other team members.

In the end, it was a very meaningful experience, but it was not as miraculously life-altering as I’d imagined it to be. We played a lot (I mean, a LOT) of cards in our abundance of free time. I had tummy issues and no appetite, which led to quite the effective weight loss plan. I fought back tears a few times as the week wore on and it seemed like a month since I’d seen my family. I shivered in our cozy bungalow with no heat and cold showers, wishing I’d packed something warmer to wear. There was a ton of laughter and lots of “holding it” to avoid going in the rancid village bathrooms. It was memorable because it was so different than my normal life, but it just wasn’t as dramatic as I’d expected.

And through the not-so-miraculous nature of it all, God whispered truth to me. My walk with Him often falls short of the miraculous category. Most days I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Usually, life seems pretty ordinary. So much of this Christian walk is just about my obedience and God’s faithfulness. I was obedient to do what He wanted me to do, even though I didn’t hear any angels singing or cry buckets of tears because I was so moved by the whole thing. And He was faithful to take care of me and give me tiny glimpses of Himself. Most of my worst fears did not come true and the ones that did, He gave me the ability to cope with. He gave me the grace to stay in a place that wasn’t so totally comfortable and to wash feet that I wouldn’t ordinarily want to touch and to survive a week without hugs from my babies. He was faithful to me. I was obedient to Him. It doesn’t seem very miraculous, but there are plenty of miracles hidden in there.

The fact that Almighty God chooses to stay by my side when I’m completely undeserving of His presence is pretty amazing. And the fact that He has changed me to the point that I’m willing to step so far outside of myself in obedience to Him is rather remarkable, too. And while giving these people shoes and candy and hugs is sweet, it’s the unseen that will last. I don’t know how many of the 1,000+ people we prayed with really gave themselves to Jesus, but for the ones who did, this was a miraculous week for them. Their eternities have been changed, and that’s what it’s all about.

I’m thankful that God allowed me, the most selfish, ordinary missionary there ever was, to have a small part in what He’s doing. And I’m thankful He brought me back to my babies safely. I’m thankful that in His quiet, subtle way, He did something amazing…used a broken vessel like me to carry some very important news to people whom He dearly loves. As I looked around the room while our fearless leader shared the Gospel with a group of ladies and saw the eyes of some filled with such sorrow over their sin and relief to have finally found some hope, I saw myself. We’re all just broken people in need of someone to love us and fix us and give us a future. I was just there to pass along the hope, whether I “felt it” or not. I’ve heard so many times that “obedience brings blessing,” and I certainly experienced the reality of that statement last week.

I did not come home with a burning desire to spend my life on the foreign mission field, but I did come home with a new understanding of God’s love for people the world over. He is not limited to revealing Himself to middle class white Americans who love some Chris Tomlin music. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Lover of all. He is so much bigger than my tiny corner of the world, yet I see that this is the corner He has placed me in for the time being. My mission is the same no matter my location: to make His name known and bring others to Him.

Below are a few pics from Antigua:



  1. Amy, I love this. I think the fact that you did what needed to be done, even when you didn't want to, makes you a great missionary. I'm sure thats what missionaries all over the world do every day.

    I am going to link to you soon. This is a wonderful post.

    PS. I have never seen a Nutella bottle that big! Wow!

  2. I so appreciate your honesty in your Christian journey. I admire your strength in just joining the missionary ministry. Also, taking the leap of faith to go to another country. Although you did not see angels or feel the need to return you have been not just a hearer of the word but a doer of the word. Last, It proves that God has a sense of humor with the Nutella...Stay blessed.

  3. Awesome! You totally made us look good while telling the truth! Does anyone have the hairy pit pic? I can't find it anywhere.


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