When returning from a short term mission’s trip, many people ask us about what we did for the community we visited. All of our one or two weeks of crazy God experiences is summed up into one category: works. Especially as North Americans, we focus on this concept of physical, tangible projects. I am guilty of this every day in my work. I often find myself focusing on time and getting things done instead of the people and the relationships around me.
During this past short term project, we were tasked with three projects, two being too large to accomplish in the six work days that were available to us. One of the most impossible tasks was to start the construction on new children’s Sunday school classrooms for the rural church of Tangalí. As one walks to the back of the sanctuary where the construction has progressed, the sight is daunting. Teenagers and old men alike, North American and South American alike scale the 60 degree incline with wheelbarrows and buckets filled with rocks, cement, rebar and dirt.
A few days later we find ourselves in the Church of Gualsaqui doing the same work, but without the incline. The concrete block wall goes up smoother, a classroom and soon to be bread store are painted. Sure we accomplished all of these great construction deeds for the church and the gratefulness that shown on their face and in their words blessed us. When people from the outside wonder about the short term team, they think about those construction jobs we worked.
What was really the most impactful I believe for most of the team, did not necessarily occur while shifting sand, shoveling cement, or painting. For most of us, I think it was dancing around like a child during an evangelism event, making a connection with a laughing child who did not share the same language, hearing the dreams and goals of the local pastors over a shared meal, connecting with a local brother or sister in Christ, a conversation with one of the 40/40 missionaries or maybe hearing the testimony of a house of prayer or leader of the Ibarra church plant.
I do not want to belittle the work that was accomplished over the past two weeks. We pray the construction will help produce fruits for the three churches of Quichinche, Tangalí and Gualsaqui for years to come. That the classrooms that were created or improved upon, the walls that were built, the sanctuary that was expanded on will all hold a physical, tangible purpose in the Kingdom of God. In all of that, what will hold the longest for me, is the relationships and hope that were
built in those two weeks.