20140218-021504.jpgI’m so grateful for the partnerships we have through the work of our church. One of my favorites is Operation Christmas Child. I’m en route to Port of Spain this week with a team of more than 50 people from all across the country to deliver shoeboxes to children in Trinidad-Tobago.

The trip is blessing me already. My husband, Sean and I will get to work together capturing stories to bring back to church while we’re here. Plane rides are just the best times for me to get caught up on reading. My sister sent me Brene’ Brown‘s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” for Christmas and I had the opportunity to finish it on the way down. It’s packed full of Dr. Brown’s amazing research and truths about love, connection, vulnerability, shame, gratitude, and joy.

The trip is three short days. It’s the first time I’ve been out of the country since last year when we travelled to East Africa to document the work of our outreach partners for the film, “Beyond the Banner.”

God showed me so much on that trip. I expected to see God working in dark and desperate situations. I expected to have my heart broken by unnecessary suffering and injustice. But I received unexpected lessons and gifts as well – and I know it will be the same this time.

In his book, “Wrecked” Jeff Goins writes, “It’s hard to get your heart broken on the couch. You have to go. To search. To journey. You have to learn to live an adventure, and all the best ones ultimately lead you home.”

That’s certainly been the case for me. One of the things I learned while praying with a broken-hearted mother in war-torn Sudan was that I’ve got nothing meaningful to give anyone but Jesus. And that if I’m not doing a good job at that in my own home, I’m altogether missing the point of God blessing me with a family. The journey led me home.

I’m looking forward to hearing stories from your trips. Some of our colleagues are with Bless Back Worldwide in Nicaragua to dedicate a new medical clinic paid for by the generous people in our church. You can see Kyle Ferlic’s trip journal entries on our Elevation Outreach blog.

Have you been on a short-term mission trip? Did you find it valuable? Why? If you’ve not been, I’d be happy to help you connect to an organization. Just leave me a note in the comments section below.