Taylor, Aidan, Samantha & Rebekah
Taylor Wasson served with her mom and sister on a His Hands His Feet trip to El Salvador in 2011. She was 12 years old at that time and her life was deeply impacted by the trip. Taylor has always dreamed of returning to serve children in El Salvador and this year the Lord spoke to her and called her back. Despite the fact that many of her friends from her church were going to the Philippines this summer, Taylor decided to return to El Salvador at the Lord's prompting. She also invited a few of her friends to serve with her and even organized informational meetings for her friends. Taylor is a gifted leader and we're so grateful to have her on our team this summer. She will be serving alongside her close friend, Shannon Smith, who attends Trabuco Hills High School, Mission Viejo, along with Taylor. Many of Taylor's close friends who attend Crean Lutheran High School are serving on the team as well. It's always incredible to watch our teams come together but I have especially been blessed by Taylor's tenacity and passion in inviting her friends to serve alongside her on this particular team.
This March I was privileged to lead a small team to serve in El Salvador. During the trip I spent time reading through Sus Hjos mission house guest book. The guest book allows team members to leave their thoughts about the week on paper before their departure. I was deeply touched as I observed comments of past team members throughout the pages of the book. I was inspired as I reflected on the many ways in which our team members' lives have been transformed since serving on our teams. It was so thrilling to find Taylor's comments in the guest book from her 2011 trip and I marveled at the fact that she's returning again, this time with a close group of friends. The memories of the children that Taylor encountered in 2011 have a permanent place in her heart and her passion for orphans is obviously contagious.
Lexi (who served on our team last year), Cassie, Shannon and Taylor
Short-term missions trips can and should be life changing. I often tell our team members that these trips should not be an item to check off their bucket lists. Their trip experiences should change their future decisions in how they spend their money, careers, time and passions. When North Americans are willing to leave the comfort zones of safety and familiarity and serve in third world countries, their eyes are opened in tremendous and often unexpected ways. Team members are forced into deep reflection as they encounter children who've been abused and abandoned, young women who've been victims of human trafficking and lives that have been devastated by poverty, addictions and gangs. Psalm 34:18 says that "The Lord is near to the broken hearted." We definitely encounter His nearness as we serve in broken places and see lives transformed by the hope of the Gospel. I have been overwhelmed as I've watched our team members's lives radically impacted by the trips. Some of our team members have returned home and started the adoption process. Others are now serving in long-term missions. Many students have switched their college majors and career paths and others have started ministries in their local communities. Some, like Taylor, have chosen to return again, bringing family and friends alongside them, and my sense of anticipation is mounting with the knowledge of the life changing impact we are about to encounter together.