by Natalia Rincon
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42
I feel as if there is no better bible story to explain the Ecuador Mission Trip than that one. Everyone on the trip came to know it as my favorite story because my best friend told me to read it one night when I became extremely flustered and overwhelmed with the amount of work I made myself do. I’m the kind of person to really spread myself out so thin. I take on too many tasks and responsibilities with the idea that I can handle them all. I forget that I’m only human and not God. I find the need to constantly please others and I become such a Martha when I should be a Mary. God should be the only person that I should strive to please and the only person I should want to have the approval of. The trip taught me that and more.
I was beyond excited to hear that the mission trip this year was going to be in Ecuador. IT’S THE COUNTRY RIGHT UNDER COLOMBIA WHERE MY WHOLE FAMILY IS FROM. I got this massive heartwarming feeling when I learned more about the trip. Jesus plus helping others was like music to my ears because they’re my two favorite things in this world. Also, being able to speak Spanish was amazing. It was also a lot of fun for me to be translating for my friends and even to have a good laugh when one of them would constantly mess up. I got to share my culture with my friends and the people of Ecuador. I never thought I would come to encounter such incredible faith. Missionaries aren’t just people that do things in the name of Christ, but a dedicated vocation to God and serving him through helping others whether in deed or word. There were days that I was left completely awestruck by the unshakable faith.
Every morning, starting off with family prayer and song, was the most powerful and strengthening way to commence a day that would soon be filled with so much preaching and missionary work. I felt like I was part of a loving family, a family united by the same God that created us and our undying love for him. Every day was packed with so much work to do; the hardest part was letting go of my insane organized planned lifestyle and letting God take control of the day. I guess, in a way, everyday was spontaneous, and trying to detach myself from utmost planning was difficult, but after the first few days I came to appreciate God’s insane work and I grew to trust him even more. I loved living in the moment and allowing God to decide what I was going to be doing. If you plan everything then you have extremely high expectations. The best thing to do is leave all things in the hands of the one that created everything.
My favorite part of the trip had to be when we did about a three-mile hike to go to one of the communities and our desert day. I am not the most active person on this planet, but I do love challenges and pushing myself. The hike was amazing. I was constantly in the mud because I have no balance and I happen to be the clumsiest person alive. At the same time, the hike tested my faith. My health problems are always a major factor when it comes to strenuous work. Every time I felt like I wanted to give up, I would pray, either Saint Michael’s prayer or Psalm 23, to give me the strength to persevere. At one point, I looked at my friend, Billy, and I really don’t know where it came from, but I said, “If Jesus can survive 40 days in the desert, then I can do this hike.” It was my motivation for the whole day. By the time I got to the community, I felt relieved to see the joy in the children’s faces. That was also my motivation during the hike. We were given the option to travel a little further and visit another community and I knew I wanted to take on that challenge as well and visit more people and express more of my faith, so I decided to join the group that was going. I didn’t feel as worn out as I thought I was going to. God had taken away the pain and tiredness I was feeling and converted it to strength and encouragement. It was worth the extra push to go see the incredible people of the community.
On our desert day, we hiked to go to a gorgeous waterfall. The hike, again, was enjoyable and I had become more aware of what to expect. I still fell a few times, but I laughed every time I did. I enjoyed it thoroughly. When we arrived to the waterfall I was left completely amazed. It was the most breathtaking view I had ever experienced up close. It’s amazing to think that God is responsible for the beautiful nature that surrounds us everyday. I found the perfect rock to sit on and journal. I came to the realization that Matthew is my favorite gospel writer. I enjoyed going through his gospel. God has also showed me, through some divine intervention, the scripture verses I needed to hear for such a long time. It was just the perfect moment to reflect on them and really let the Holy Spirit explain why I needed to read them. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trip than to have experienced the desert day. I even took a swim in the actual waterfall and felt completely refreshed and renewed! It was a peaceful and much needed time to reflect and pray.
The one thing I really came to take home with me, from this trip, was the beautiful hospitality, generosity, self-sacrificing, simplicity that was shown by the people of the communities. I come from a completely different world where technology basically shapes our society and where what society says becomes a norm. The Ecuadorians understood the value of family, friendship, and unity. They were filled with remarkable faith. I was completely awestruck. They have so little, some may even say they have nothing, but they were filled with genuine joy and love for absolutely everything and everyone in their lives. They appreciate every little thing that comes their way and they thank God simply for giving them another day to live in accordance with his mighty will. One of the girls, from a community I had visited to help construct a chapel, was so amazed by my phone. I had brought it with me on the trip to take pictures. I’m usually very careful with my things for fear that they will break and I worry about repairs and the cost that come with it. The twinkle of excitement in her eyes changed my feelings about my cautious self. I gave her my phone and she became the photographer for the day. She learned how to use it quickly and she was extremely talented at taking pictures. She was phenomenal. She was responsible for ¼ of the pictures I took on the entire trip. The joy she felt made me realize to let go of such a material mindset and to leave all things in God’s hands. There are so many things in this world that I worry about, and I need to learn to recognize what’s important because if I place my trust in God, then nothing can go wrong.
I loved spending so much time with the fulltime missionaries because they shared so much of their faith with me. It enriched me and inspired me to want to learn more about my faith and do more with it. I loved growing in faith as a community. I felt like I was part of a bigger family since everyday I woke up and saw the same lovely faces that I would share a full day of work with. I became closer with all of the Adelphi missionaries because of this trip and they understand where I am with my faith and have helped me dive into it even deeper. One of the days, we went as a group to one of the youth group meetings. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give my testimony. I’m not the kind of person to get nervous to talk in front of a group, especially if it involves my faith, but I got this rush of fear and adrenaline throughout my body a few minutes before I had to go. It also happened to be the first time I had given my testimony in a different language, but thankfully my parents did a wonderful job teaching me Spanish, so I never felt stumped when I gave my talk. The youth group was incredible. They paid close attention as I spoke. It was encouraging to see the attentive faces coming from a group of teenagers. They were so amazed to hear what I had to say and were ready to pray as a community.
If I could go back and relive the entire experience, I would do it in a heartbeat. It was an amazing faith filled journey that I hope to always take with me everywhere I go. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20.