In The Princess Bride there is a scene where Westley awakens from having been mostly dead all day and asks what is happening. Inigo responds by saying, "Lemme 'splain . . . No. There is too much. Lemme sum up."
That is a good example of how we feel when we try to explain how we got here. We could start from our first trip with eMi, or our first family mission trip, or that book we read (Radical by David Platt) or we could back way up to the point when we started looking around at our ridiculously blessed life and asking, "Is this all we are here for?" I suppose if we want to get totally real we could go back forty years, but only God could tell that story accurately so maybe we will just start with Jamaica.
In July of 2011 we traveled on a family trip with IsleGo Missions. None of us had ever been on a mission trip of any kind and Kevin searched high and low to find one that would allow all five of us to go (Emily was only 5, and most trips require participants to be much older). Beyond some basic details on what our days would entail, who was going, and where we would sleep, we really had no idea what to expect.
I just realized I really do need to back up quite a bit further. The truth is that Kevin and I sort of did know what to expect from Jamaica. We had gone there on our honeymoon and frankly, it was disturbing. We stayed at a clean and elegant all-inclusive resort where smiling staff members catered to our every whim. Wanting to see more of the island, we ventured out on a couple of excursions. What we saw was disheartening poverty, and it left us convinced that precious few of our tourism dollars were making it outside the resort walls. We had gone to Jamaica because we had heard how beautiful it was, yet we could not find that beauty and we returned home not wanting to go back.
Fast forward to the IsleGo trip. We spent a week working alongside residents of the impoverished Steertown community, building houses. We played, taught Bible stories, fed, and sang worship songs with children in Seville Heights. We visited residents of the government infirmary, those forgotten or abandoned by their own families. At the end of the week as the airplane wheels lifted off the runway, I choked back sobs. I now saw Jamaica as a beautiful place and this time our desire was to not return home without having been changed.
We felt the small changes, the ones that caused us to shrug off flat tires and broken appliances or to feel lost in places like Target. Those changes lasted about two weeks. We settled back in to our First World groove and devoted the quiet times to digging around the messy corners of our brains for evidence of a more lasting impact. I think we expected God to drop some sort of grand revelation on us, some instant idea for where to go or what to do. Honestly, He seemed a bit silent. Like the science teacher who has just asked a question and is staring at you, waiting for an answer.
The answer took us on another journey. . .
Click here to see photos from that trip to Jamaica, plus the ones we took the following year, because you know...once just isn't enough.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.