El Gringo Gigante – 4 Reasons To Go On A Short-Term Mission Trip

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When we left for Guatemala, our family had all kinds of feelings and fears.  Little did we realize the people of Guatemala would have just as many feelings and fears about us.

I remember walking through the streets of Xenacoj the first night we were there.  I felt out-of-place in some ways.  I didn’t fit in the makeshift shelters.  My skin was quite pale compared to the darker complexion of the Guatemalans.  And I couldn’t understand most of the words floating through the nighttime air.

Everywhere I went in Guatemala, kids and adults pointed at me.  Many even laughed.  They whispered or snickered to their friends, “El Gringo Gigante!”  I think some kids were even a little afraid of me.  I towered over everybody in Guatemala.  I’m nearly 6’6″, and most Guatemalans are challenged to make it to 5’6″.  Once the kids saw me smile, they usually lightened up.  Some were shy, but most kids seemed thrilled when I came over to ask them questions in my broken Spanish.

I interacted with many kids while we were in Guatemala.  While my Spanish is pretty weak, a smile is universal.

It’s amazing the difference a week can make.  By the end of the week, the villagers were saying hello to me (actually they were saying “Bueno”).  They weren’t laughing at me (at least not as much).  And I felt comfortable there as well.

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Many people are afraid to travel to a foreign land.  They don’t know what to expect.  Will they be safe?  Will they be accepted?

I get it.  For many, international travel requires a huge leap of faith to go to a foreign land – especially when it requires serving and getting dirty.  A short term missions trip may be just the recipe you need to overcome your fears.

Here are four reasons to consider going on an international short-term mission trip:

  • An international short-term mission trip opens your eyes to how the 98% really live.  There are third world countries within a few hour plane ride of the United States.  As Americans, we complain about the rising cost of healthcare and the tough economic times we are enduring.  Go see how people live in countries like Haiti and Guatemala.  I guarantee it will change your perspective.
  • An international short-term mission trip opens your mind to imagine a different world.  While there are many sad things about life in a third world country, there is also hope.  I left Guatemala with so many new hopes and dreams for myself, my family, and the people of Xenacoj.  I imagine the people of Xenacoj learning new skills that will help them thrive.  I imagine their kids growing up nourished and inspired.  And I imagine an entire village on fire for Christ.
  • An international short-term mission trip opens your mouth to share the message of hope.  While we were in Xenacoj, I definitely felt more encouraged to share the gospel message with those I encountered.  And since I’ve come home, I’ve been encouraged to share about our journey.  I want others to know they can help make a difference for the orphans and the widows.  They can take a similar journey and be forever changed.
  • An international short-term mission trip opens your heart.  If you’re dragging, if you’re uninspired, if you’re spirit is down, consider going on a short-term mission trip.  Your heart will be ripped open for people who need help and who need to know the love and hope of Christ.  This will also change your perspective on your daily interactions at home.  We work and interact with people everyday in our jobs, in our neighborhoods, and in our schools who need to know the love and hope of Christ.

Don’t take my word for it.  After all, I’m just a “Gringo Gigante”!  Try a trip out for yourself.  Now is the time to start planning a trip for the spring or summer of 2014.  If you need some encouragement or ideas, look me up.  I’d love to help!

How could an international short-term mission trip open you up to something amazing?  How has an international short-term mission trip change you?  What’s holding you back from going on an international short-term mission trip?