Sleeping on the pavement outside the airport was not how I imagined the first night of my mission trip. Neither had I imagined that I would get chased by a cow, forget my passport, fall into a ditch and eat ants.
In my junior year of high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Cambodia on a mission trip with seven other girls and our two sponsors. For two weeks, we served at the local orphanage and ministered to the Christian school founded by the missionary family we were visiting.
One particular day stood apart from all the other days of my trip. Other than my mission trip leader falling ill, the day started out normally with everything running smoothly: the song, the crafts and the games.
A teacher approached us and asked us to share the Gospel with the middle school students as well. We agreed but had forgotten that because of the way the
Cambodian education system worked at that time, many of these students would actually be our age.
We had automatically assumed these “middle schoolers” would be in their early teens. My team and I had prepared activities only for younger children but, “We’ll be fine,” we told each other. “We’ll just wing it.”
However, our improvisation ended disastrously. The students walked in, and we quickly realized our mistake. Seventeen- and 18-year-olds are not exactly the age group that you would sing a children’s Bible song to, but we did.
A group of high school girls singing “Dig Down Deep” complete with hand motions was not exactly something these teens wanted to see.
We quickly cut the singing session after that first song and moved on to the activity which was building race cars out of water bottles. This seemed to catch their interest, and we excitedly passed out the materials. One of the materials needed was paint, and I have no idea why, but we had chosen acrylic paint.
One of the girls was desperately trying to get a paint bottle open and in doing so, splattered the paint all over us, the floor and our ukulele. And if you didn’t already know, acrylic paint does not come off with soap and water. One of the boys ran to the local gas stand and bought several bottles of gas. Each of us then had to douse ourselves in gasoline.
We hurriedly finished the craft and headed back to the orphanage where we were staying. Besides getting flour in my eye during a chaotic baking session, the rest of the day went well.
Several girls and I shared our testimony at a Bible study session that night before leading the children in singing. It was amazing to hear the attendees testimonies as well and we ended the night with prayer.
Despite how disastrous my team and I viewed part of that day, God had worked past our mistakes. One teacher of the teens said we had blessed the group. And looking back at it, I can honestly say that may have been the most influential day of the trip.
You don’t have to have your own life together to reach people. It’s the reality and brokenness of who you are that will speak to them the most.
As Katie Davis, a missionary to Uganda, wisely said, “I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. So, I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian.”