Kylie McCracken is from Land o’Lakes, Florida, where she serves as Student Ministry Director at The North Pointe Church. We were honored to have her on our GuateTeam – her quiet spirit and tender smile were like good medicine as the days grew long. You can read more of her thoughts at LiveLoveServe.
I’ve been on many mission trips before, even international. And I’ve done quite a bit of travelling. I’ve spent time meeting new people, seeing different cultures and seeing God at work in different parts of the country and the world. I think all of that is why I haven’t yet figured out why my week in Guatemala has had such an impact on me. I’ve loved the places i’ve been before and have had some incredible experiences. However, nothing comes close in comparison with what this week has been like since i’ve been back. It’s been hard to think about anything else or talk about anything else. I’ve looked at pictures 5,000 times….thought about what we were doing at certain times of the day, who we were meeting, what conversations were going on, what smiles we were seeing for the first time, whose prayers were being answered right before our eyes, where hope was springing up and love and joy were growing. I’ve been happy and sad, joyful and hopeful, angry and frustrated…all at the same time. There is just something special about the people and the place I got to visit last week.
I’m back home, but it just doesn’t seem real and doesn’t feel the same. I can’t really explain it…but I think I have for the first time really understood what people mean when they say they left their heart somewhere. Don”t get me wrong, I LOVE being here. I love my family, my friends, my church, my job, the ministry God has allowed me to be a part of & the work He is doing here…I love dreaming about the future and what God is going to do in the lives of the seniors who are graduating at NPC this weekend. I love seeing people look for ways to serve. I love hearing teenagers say they want to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus. I love my life here. I know with utmost confidence that I am exactly where God wants me to be. But its just different now. I have another home, another family, friends, and work God is doing that I had the privilege of experiencing in Guatemala.
When we stepped off the plane in Guatemala, the team leaders – Ronne & Courtney began sharing stories of previous trips…names, faces, moments, memories…and they could barely get through each sentence without tears. You could feel the anticipation building as they knew they were so close to being there again. I remember thinking, “how could they possibly have such a strong connection with people in a place so far away from home, that they barely know?” I had no idea God would answer that question so clearly in my own heart. These people and this place were not far from home…it WAS their second home. It was an extension of family. People they dearly love and sacrifice greatly to make sure are cared for. The connection between these ladies and the people they serve and love in Guatemala was inspiring and something I cannot even put into words. For anyone who thinks short term missions do not have a lasting impact on the people and places you visit – you need to meet this family.
Through the wonders of technology, we can now keep in touch with some loved ones in a foreign land even easier. Miselda, one of the incredible teenage girls we met at the home of Evita, commented on this photo on facebook and put it quite simply: esta es mi familia…this is my family.
I get it now. I understand that you can meet someone for just a few days and be forever changed because of their impact. I know that you can step foot on a rocky driveway leading down to a little yellow cinderblock building, surrounded by the thick mist of an afternoon in the mountains of Guatemala and feel like you’re at home. I’ve learned you can stand at the bottom of a hill while a tiny 10 year old girl that you just met 24 hours ago runs to you, arms open wide and feel like you’ve had a sister for a lifetime. I’ve experienced the power of different people, from different places, with different gifts, experiences, abilities, and circumstances coming together with the common bond of love…for Christ and for people.
Now I sit here, almost a week later…and wonder what it all means, and what is next. I can’t wait for the day when we can be reunited for our next visit. But until then, there are stories to share and lives worth fighting for. Scripture about caring for and defending orphans has taken on new meaning and my life will never be the same. So, it is really true what people say…home is where your heart is. I’ve had the opportunity to leave some of my heart in Xela, Angitua, and Guatemala City. See you soon.