It has been a glorious and rewarding past couple of weeks here at ELWA (Eternal Love Winning Africa). We made great progress with all of the plumbing being completely roughed in, (no fixtures yet) and almost all of the overhead wiring completed. Our tile installer started this week and with about 4200 square feet of floor space and all bathroom walls to tile, he will be busy for some time to come. Our ceiling installation will also begin Monday of this coming week. While it will be a challenge to keep the work flowing with so many people in the area, we will count on God to conduct this orchestra of talents he has provided.
On Friday evening I was blessed to be one of the drivers to travel to the airport to pick up our newly arrived mission team from The Chapel. It was great to see our Global Outreach Coordinator Perry Moore, his wife Sally and the rest of the team. (Renee Kessel, Sam Odishoo, Aaron Smith, Daniel Del Valle, David Parker, and Sehyaabeah Mayu), On Saturday morning, It was an honor to lead devotions for the group and get to know everyone a little better. We then took a quick Saturday tour of the guesthouse where they got to see the progress made so far and look at the tiles selected for all the rooms. We also discussed their work days which begin tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday. It is so great to have all these Godly people from home come to help and spread the word of our Lord and Savior. Some people have asked, are these short term mission trips really worthwhile? My answer is an emphatic YES, for several reasons.
First: We often refer to The Chapel as a "transformational church". I can certainly testify that my first short term mission trip here with The Chapel, really transformed me as a child of God. I remember on our last day, sitting in a chair under a palm tree looking at the ocean and realizing that for the first time in my life, I was absolutely, positively exactly where God wanted me to be, doing exactly what He wanted me to do. It was on that trip that SIM (Serving in Missions) Missionaries David and Nancy Writebol asked me to consider taking the training to become a missionary. That first short term mission trip did indeed transform me in such a way that whenever I am called upon to return, no matter who is calling, I know it is God wanting me to return. When people ask me why I keep coming back, the answer is simple... It's not really up to me, because it's not about me. You go where God sends you. Whether or not God calls any of these people back to Liberia, or anywhere else, he has indeed expanded their horizons, knowledge, faith and given them a heart for all of HIS children all around the world that will serve to expand HIS Kingdom.
Second: While here, each and every person serves as a living example to the Liberian people that Christians care enough to go through all the necessary steps and expenses to come here to spread the word of Christ. Imagine how the hearts and minds of people living on an average of $3.00 per day are touched by the efforts of Christians who come all the way here just to tell them the good news about Jesus and all he gave for us! Each trip provides proof positive that Christ is alive and well all over the world as miracles happen here on each and every trip. With such limited resources we always find a way to make things work when we call upon HIM first. I remember one particular day when we were working to try to get a very stubborn fitting to connect two pipes in a trench we had dug. This small fitting was essential to connect two pipes for our new water purification system which now provides over one million gallons of fresh, sanitary free water to the local community. We struggled and struggled all morning long until I got so frustrated I just told all the workers to take an early lunch at 11:30. Upon returning after lunch we surrounded the hole in the ground and that pesky little fitting by the two pipes. Before we started I asked the men to join hands and we prayed for God's hand to be with us and guide us in our efforts. On the very first attempt, the fitting slipped right on, the pipes were connected and we all laughed, cried and praised God in the splendor of that moment. Amazed and relieved, I went to the main office where I received some further relief via a nice air conditioned room. Being mentally and physically exhausted, I rested my head on the desk in front of me. One of the workers quickly asked if I was ok. I told him the story of our morning's frustration, early lunch and how we prayed for God's hand to help us. He said to me, "You are a smart man Mr. Rick!" I responded by telling him, "If I was a smart man, I would have prayed in the morning!" God's intervention made an impact on all of us that day.
Lastly, everyone who comes on a short term mission trip leaves a lasting impact through their efforts while here and with your interactions when you return home. Whether it's scraping old paint off a building, helping make a parking lot, cement work, visiting orphans, counseling youth or whatever you do, you are paving the way for the rest of the world to see. Through our love for Christ we may be the one who plows the field, or plants the seed, or waters the sprout, or reaps the harvest. Whatever your role in HIS Kingdom you will leave a legacy behind that may inspire many, many more people to come to Christ and worship our loving God. The next time you hear about a Chapel Mission trip, don't worry about your level of talent in any particular area. Just show up. God will do the rest.