My first encounter with a missionary experience was in November of 1996 with my best friend Dan Lincoln. He was planning a short term missions trip to El Salvador to help build a church for a children's home. He strongly encouraged me to come along. I explained how busy I was with my four children and being in charge of the boy's program at my church. In addition I was running two companies and was a trustee on the Church Board. He did not cut me any slack and said I should "pray about it". I did pray about it and the Lord seemed silent on the issue, or at least I couldn't hear his answer. Then I offered Dan the price of the trip to go toward the project, but said I would not go. He politely declined saying that I needed the experience. He kept asking but I felt no direction from the Lord, so I offered twice the price, but said I would not go. Again he declined my offer, saying he would rather have me there. Purely out of submission to a friend, I reluctantly agreed to go, but said that I would rather work with the children then do construction. He agreed and I went.
What an experience! Although I knew no Spanish, it didn't seem to hinder my working with the kids. I have felt the call and have worked with hundreds of boys in my local assembly over many years, but when I met these kids it was entirely different. In just over a week, we grew so very close. I loved them and they shared the love right back. There seemed to be so much to do. There were 24 boys in the small boy's house where I stayed. I never really comprehended how much it was impacting me until our team was ready to leave. As we were saying good-bye, my eyes began to fill up with tears. I did all I could to hold them back in front of the children. I am generally not that emotional, but it was so hard. Then, as we were on the bus and the bus pulled away, I looked out over the children, and the pain was too great. You know how when you were a child and had just received a hard spanking? You could not breathe and your breath became broken and hard to catch because you were crying so hard. For the first time since my childhood, I cried just like that. The pain was so great that I lay down in my seat, and involuntarily rolled my knees up to my chest, and wept profusely. All the way to the airport, I was out of control with my emotions. For days, it was nearly impossible to concentrate on my work. All I could think about was the children. I would begin crying every time I thought of them (in fact even now, as I write this, tears are rolling down my checks). Upon my return home, I began writing letters to the boys and thinking of how I could continue to work with them. I could not begin to even know how to thank my dear friend and brother Dan, for opening this door in the plan of God for my life. A little submission to a Christian brother has budded into a life's passion.
Sold out to Missions
Since that trip in 1996, I am sold out to helping these under-privileged children. With multiple trips each year, we focus on the different need of the children with teams of caring people.