By Victoria Ngai
This year, I went on my first ever short term missions trip to Mexicali. Originally, my intentions were to spend more time with my older brother Nicholas before he heads off to UC Berkeley, but by the end of the week, I saw God working in my life in unexpected ways. Leading up to the trip, I prepared myself physically and was ready to take on the bug bites and the burning sun, but I failed to prepare myself spiritually. My heart was focused on myself and my friends rather than God. I was too busy becoming excited about the time I would spend with my friends rather than becoming excited for the time I could spend with God.
On the first night in Mexicali, I finally realized how unprepared I was. I was guilty and afraid because I had ignored God and felt as if I now had no one to guide me through all the upcoming obstacles. I also felt ashamed and hid my doubts behind a mask of self-confidence. Inside, there was a turmoil of fears such as “What if I mess up my Spanish?” or “What if I can’t handle the responsibilities I signed up for?” Most of all, I was terrified of the thought of returning home with an unchanged heart.
The next morning during my Time With Abba, we read the verse Psalm 138:3. “When I called, you answered me, you greatly emboldened me.” It was a reminder that no matter how long I’ve ignored, turned away from, or even forgotten about God, He will always answer me.
God gave me confidence to speak to the homeless people in the park, and despite feeling unprepared at first, I was soon covered with God’s peace and clarity. One thing I noticed at the park was how the people who have so much less than we do can be so much closer to God. The sight reminded me to get rid of my earthly distractions, but I still struggled with putting God first.
The second time we visited the park, God revealed to me what a wonderful opportunity He gives us when He asks us to give up our distractions to Him. I realized I had been looking at the situation from the wrong perspective. We are not the ones giving God the permission to take away our things. He already has the power to take it all away, and He is giving us the privilege of choosing Him over everything else.
On Wednesday night during the Vacation Bible School time, many of the obstacles I had been praying about began to seep back into my head. I was convinced I needed to perfect the hand motions for the worship songs and make sure all the crafts ran smoothly. I placed burdens on myself which acted as roadblocks to the assurance and calmness that God offered me. I chose a fast-paced life where I was in control over the one God planned for me.
The next day, four hours before the Oasis Church service, I was asked to share a testimony of my time at Mexicali. During those short four hours, I prayerfully planned out what I was going to share about and was sure that God would give me strength when I needed to speak in front of everyone; however, once we arrived at the church, a few minutes before I was supposed to share, I began to feel overwhelmed. I was flooded with indescribable feelings, and no matter how much the Mexicali team prayed for me, I kept believing I couldn’t do it.
It was only after everyone returned back to the service that I was able to focus my heart 100% on God. God told me it didn’t matter how well I spoke or whether I spoke at all. He saw how much effort I had already given to Him, and no matter what happened, He would be content with me. In that moment, I gave God everything and pushed away any and all distractions. He replaced all the lies of needing to be perfect with His truth: He just wants us to give Him everything, both the ugly lies we tell ourselves and the beautiful parts that glorify Him.
My main takeaway from my first short term missions trip is to remember that God wants every part of us and that we should feel privileged to give everything up to Him.