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The Mission Trip That Changed My Life

By Mollie Mayfield, Apr 26, 2016

Mission trips are a life-changing experience, regardless of your background. Each trip is different and that's what makes them special. For my spring break, I went to Belize with a group from Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at my school. This was my fourth mission trip and is was my favorite by far.

Going into this trip, I held little to no knowledge about the culture or even the location of Belize. Right off the plane, delicious food and famous watermelon juice greeted us. Imagine eating three homemade meals every day for a week. Can the women who cooked for us please come live with me in Dallas? I am barely getting by with the Easy Mac!

The team was told that we would be doing “light construction.” That consisted of balancing on wood that was five feet in the air and putting rocks in cinder blocks. We were building Sunday school rooms and transporting sand in wheel barrels under the scorching sun. I never sweated so much in my life!

Bring on the kids!
While we were taking a break from the “light construction,” we had the opportunity to play with the children from the school we also worked with. On every mission trip that I have gone on, it is always the kids who pull the string on my heart. Their sweet smiles will forever be embedded in my mind and the intriguing stories that they have to tell are priceless.

For mission trips, you have to earn fun time. Upon doing so, we got fried in the sun a bit. It felt as if we were in paradise, despite the hard work that we put in that week. Who else can say that they swam with (and touched) sharks with their friends? Also, I swam with a sea turtle! Who casually does that? SMU RUF does! I also lost count of the amount of ice cream that was consumed and the stories that were told around the eating table.

As I commented earlier, this was my fourth mission trip and I quite can’t put my finger on what made it so extraordinary. One thing that made the Belize trip different is that I went with a group of people who I had literally just met and I did not know much about their backgrounds. All of my other trips were with my mom who kept up with my spending money and people who I’d known my whole life.

Building lifelong friendships
Part of what made the trip so special was that we did not know each other’s talents or backgrounds going into it. I now have lifelong friendships that started with a simple conversation. I made a friend who has awesome photography skills and another one who lived in my shoes growing up in a single-parent household. The others on this team are all facing similar events in life and handle relatable challenges at Southern Methodist University (SMU). We were able to laugh at ourselves and learn from each of our mistakes. We had to learn the culture and work methods of those in Belize. If the people in control did not like the work that you were doing, they would take over. Also, is it not culturally correct for a woman to work, so all of us girls did a lot of talking to the children and taking a ton of photos to prove that we actually did some work.

We created a dozen or so hashtags during our trip including #unBELIZEable, which I think is very original. Now, if any of those phrases are said for any reason, I am reminded of the unbelievable time that I had with this mission team.

Starting off the week, our team was given the phrase, “Sometimes we need to drop the shovel and do something else.” This would consist of pausing our rock hauling and helping one of the students with their homework or talking to one of the workers to understand how they live their lives. This wasn’t just for people who lived in the village, but also within our team. I was able to grow stronger in my faith alongside my new friends and we have continued to grow, even after the trip was completed.

Saying goodbye
For me, the last day was and will always be difficult. It is the time when goodbyes are said and you're trying to make your last memories with the people who relationships were created with. I befriended a little girl and when I told her goodbye, she asked if we were coming back the following day. Unfortunately, I had to inform her that it was our last day in the village. I could see in her eyes that she was sad that we couldn’t have another day together. Yet, what she said next gave me hope and peace. She replied with, “You will be back one day.” That absolutely tore my heart to pieces. It was astonishing that this child was able to comprehend that we would be together again, even if it was years from now. It made me sad, watching her get on the school bus to head home, but I was overwhelmed with joy when she looked back with a huge smile on her face, waving one last time.

That little girl will forever hold a huge part of my heart. Even if it was less than a week, she changed my life in ways that no SMU student, ministry leader, or people from home could ever do. She showed me what bravery and hope look like. She is the reason why, when I walked into my dorm room at midnight after enduring a six-hour flight delay, I started to sob. I wasn’t back to reality for five minutes and I was in culture shock. I walked into a beautiful room filled with photos of people who I love and paintings made by people who love me and I wondered, "What does that little girl go home to?"

I don’t want you to only know about what my mission team did in Belize, but know that it changed many lives, including mine. We made an impact on the workers who were determined to finish those Sunday schools. We spread love to all of the children and planted seeds that will continue to grow until we come back.

Mollie Mayfield is a journalism student at Southern Methodist University.  

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Give thanks for those who participated in short-term missions this summer. Pray that God would continue to encourage them toward missions. 

Pray for participants going on short-term missions this summer, that God would use the trip to encourage, strengthen relationships, and build a foundations for missions.

Pray that God will give churches a vision to invest in their youth by taking short-term mission trips. Pray that youth would grasp a heart for missions as a result.

Pray for those who God is calling to missions, that God would clarify their call, and equip them to serve Him.

Pray for students considering going on summer trips and internships as they make decisions. 

Pray for college students to participate in global missions. Pray that they would a catch a vision for missions that would stay with them long term.

Pray for those returning from mission trips to stay engaged with missions. 

Pray for those going on mission trips this spring and summer as they raise finanical support and prepare for their trip.

DAY 30: Pray for new missionaries preparing to serve in restricted-access countries around the world that the Lord would use them mightily.

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