Home from Guatemala

The last 48 hours have been emotionally weird for me.

A team of eight of us from Dayton UMC just spent 10 days in Guatemala on a short-term mission trip with our newest mission partners, Impact Ministries. We had an awesome ten days working alongside the selfless, servant-hearted staff of Impact Ministries and making some incredible new friends in Guatemala.

Our flight back to the USA left Saturday morning at 6:00 am. We were in Antigua for the final day and a half of the trip, doing some sightseeing and learning more of the history of Guatemala. Antigua is about a 40 minute drive from the Guatemala City airport, and international travelers need to be at the airport about three hours before the flight, so we needed to leave Antigua to start the journey home at 2:30 am! It was a short night's sleep!

But more than that, it was emotionally weird. There was a mixture in my heart of longing to get home and great sadness at leaving Guatemala. Part of me wanted to return to my great friends and family and church, and part of me wanted to just remain in Guatemala and serve the Lord there through Impact Ministries. Part of me was excited to head for home. And part of me was at home in a beautiful new land that is filled with the hardships of life in a third-world country.

I had a deepening of the sense I live with perpetually in this world. Paul said it this way in Philippians 1:21 - "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (NIV)

Either way I win! To keep living in Guatemala would mean being overjoyed at the ways I saw Jesus Christ lavishing grace where it is needed most and making grace sufficient for every need. To come home to Dayton would mean coming home to the family and friends and ministry to which I am called. There is joy in both options!

And there is grief in both options. To remain Guatemala would mean leaving behind the amazing people of Dayton UMC and seeing much less of our family here in the USA. And to come home from Guatemala would mean parting all too soon from the beautiful people we met and the amazing work we saw God doing there. Each option leaves me longing for something in the other.

Living as a follower of Jesus Christ in the here-and-now seems just like that. To remain here in this life contains the great joys of the relationships we have and the fulfilling ministry of making Jesus known to a broken, hurting world. To meet Jesus on His return and go with Him into eternity will contain even greater joy in our eternal relationship with Him and with each other that is set free from the brokenness of this fallen world. To live is Christ, and to die is gain!

It is good to live in the hope that Jesus is coming back to right every wrong and to consummate history with His eternal kingdom of shalom - of God's peace. In the meantime, we have the great joy of serving Him until He comes. There is great joy in both options, and some sadness in either because of longing for the other.

To live is Christ, and to die is gain! Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

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