I took my first mission trip in 2000, and it changed my life. To visit a different culture and language, to be swept up in the customs and music, and to see the hearts of God's people from across the globe was an experience I could not anticipate. Over the past 18 years I have gone on 7 mission trips, to 3 continents. I have traveled with friends. I have traveled with family members. I have had the privilege of seeing the Amazon jungle with my youngest, laughing with him as he leaned out the window, photographing the Andes Mountains as we traversed a narrow mountain passage, and just 2 years later, watching him preach Jesus in the dark night in the small town of Ho in West Ghana. The Spirit filled his voice with passion and many came forward to receive Christ that night.
I have visited East Africa with my oldest (and my youngest daughter-in-law), on a trip that stretched and challenged us, and changed us forever. The poverty of the people we will never forget. Nor will we ever forget going on safari and being so close to rhinos you could almost touch them!
I have been privileged to visit Ghana, West Africa with my middle son twice (and his beautiful bride once). What a Blessing to watch him evolve from the immature 9th grader heading to Brazil, into a church leader, missions pastor, and one with the people of Ghana. At 17 he told me he would return to Ghana often, and he has (and will)! Uncle Seth from Tumu touched his heart and changed him forever. And the ripple effect of that first trip has changed our whole family as well.
And I have had the utmost privilege of "teaching English" to a wonderful group of youth and adults alongside my life companion of almost 42 years in the small town of Diosd, Hungary. There may not have been a common language, but there was commonality in our laughter, our singing, our playing, and our love for one another.
Each trip has challenged me and changed me. Each trip has reminded me that we serve an AWESOME GOD who LOVES His people. Each trip has shown me that we are innately the same, made in His image, and with a hungering to Worship our Maker with our whole heart. My office and our home have simple reminders of our travels, pictures with crocodiles, ant hills, slave castles, and the most beautiful people in the world - fellow believers on this journey with me, thousands of miles away. My world is not so big. It rests in my heart and in my memory. And I look forward to watching my children and my grandchildren venture out again and again, changing their world views and tasting a little bit of what heaven will be like.
I wrote the following journal entry as we left Accra, Ghana, West Africa for my last time. I know that my health will not permit me to return in this lifetime. But I also know that we will dance and sing for all eternity in Heaven one day. I am writing my "forever" story. What is filling the pages of YOUR forever story?