Each spring the senior class takes a week to serve together at an international location. The stories and testimonies that come back are amazing. The class grows closer and learns about another culture. They get to see God at work in other lands. Eyes are opened to living conditions only seen in the news.
Advisor's letter to seniors after their Guatemala trip
It's Over; It's Beginning
My Dear Seniors,
It’s over. The trip that you have planned, prepared for, prayed over, and anxiously anticipated is actually over. Right now it feels a little surreal, to the point where you may wonder: did that really happen? Yet your pictures, your dirty laundry, your tan-lines, and your fatigue all assure you: yes, it really happened.
So what do you do now?
What do you do when you remember those little arms wrapped around your neck? What do you do when you remember those little hands touching your face and playing with your hair? What do you do when you remember those smiles and bright eyes looking up at you?
Keep those arms, those hands, those eyes and smiles in your mind. When life starts to settle back into its routine and inertia starts to again take over, remember. Remember that there are little lives doing battle against hunger, loneliness, abuse, hopelessness. Little lives like Betsy and Raphael and Andry and Diego. Remember that there are people going into battle for those little lives—serving, feeding, praying, loving. People like Mike and Timothy and Lori, Fernando and Dieter, Mario and Leo.
These are not just names; they are lives that God has cross-pollinated with yours so that you are no longer who you were. You can no longer live the way you once did. You now have to live in the light of this new knowledge—that we all are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. We are all called to a work that asks for so much more than we think we were capable of. Fortunately, we don’t have to be “capable” because He is (2 Cor. 12:9). So keep remembering. And while you keep remembering…
The Holy Spirit works in tandem with our prayers. It may seem like such a small act, yet you have seen this past week how prayer is power—the releasing of the power of God upon the lives of people and their circumstances. Pray for those kids you met. Pray for the workers you met. Pray for protection and provision, for discernment and boldness.
Now that you have seen what those little lives must endure—the shadows and light that they navigate through each day—you know how to pray. Now that you have seen what those workers must confront—the choice that they must make daily to die to self in the service of Christ and others—you know how to pray. Now that you know the need—the world that exists beyond the comfort of your own—pray that your life, your decisions, your attitude reflects the mindset of Christ and His love for the world. So keep praying. And while you keep praying…
Today is the first day to live differently. The first opportunity to start melding your old life into this new awareness. As Believers, we do not have the luxury of coasting or leaving it to others to do the work that is required in the world. We are privileged to be part of the Church. We are privileged to be workers. So let’s work. Let’s give of our time, our money, our energy, our resources, our prayers. Let’s expend ourselves in work that matters.
It has been a privilege for me to teach you over the past 5 years, more so to watch you experience—and to experience with you—the transformative work happening in Bethania. To see your willingness to get involved. To get dirty. To love the “least of these” and to let their lives matter to you. Loving others is always a risk—your tears on the bus ride after our last day is testament to that risk. It hurts to leave. It hurts to love selflessly. But this kind of love is worth the risk. As Pastor Mario quoted, “The risk will be high. Your joy will be full.” So keep working. And while you keep working…
Love Bethania. Love each other. Love Jesus. Love those at your job, at school, at home, at church, at the store, in the parking lot. Often times, this love comes in little moments—a smile even when you’re having a bad day, holding the door for someone even when you’re in a hurry, stopping to help someone even when you’re in need of help, sitting with someone who is alone even when it feels awkward and you don’t know what to say. Little moments matter. Look for opportunities to love.
I love each one of you. And I am still in awe of your tirelessness, your enthusiasm, your compassion, and your selflessness you showed this past week. Throughout the week I prayed many prayers over you, many of them taken from scripture. Today and moving forward, my prayer for you comes from one of my favorites: Philippians 2:1-16. (Go look it up and read it—I’ll wait. Take your time; let the words marinate.)
So, actually, it’s not over. It’s beginning. Throughout your life there will be loads of “beginnings”. My prayer and hope is that this beginning leads you on a journey of prayer and work and love that transforms your relationships, your decisions, and your life.
I love you, dear ones.