A CHANGE OF TASTE by Michael Bateman
I never felt “called” to the global mission field. Even hearty encouragement by experienced people fell on deaf ears. Things like “making of new friends” and “having a real connection with the indigenous people” and “making a difference to the children” seemed pretty unlikely to happen with me. I’m just not that kind of person. I don’t deal well with new people, never mind the foreign culture and language barriers. Engaging with children is WAY outside of my comfort zone. No, the mission thing was for someone else.
There were too many unknowns. How do we build a house when I’m not an experienced builder, and with my bad back? Would my talents be wasted or unappreciated? Will the work actually help the situation, or will it be despised as charity from the wealthy Americans? How is the whole thing accomplished? What if I don’t know what to do or have control over the situation. No, the mission thing was definitely for someone else.
Upon arrival in Guatemala, very little felt familiar, and I was already pretty sure that this would be my LAST time doing this. However, after our first day’s work, and after meeting the single mother of five children we were helping, my heart began to melt. People of different cultures are pretty much the same, and verbal communication might be over-rated. I was overwhelmed with the love and open arms of the families we served. Each morning began with hugs and genuine smiles from each and every family member. We were building these people a better place to live and grow their family, and they really appreciated our help. After several days, our mission team, the local workers and the families were less like strangers and more like friends. We truly felt the presence of God, and could see a tangible result of the body-of-Christ in action. There are really no words to describe the experience.
My wife and I treasure our time in Guatemala, serving with Porch de Salomon. I cannot adequately express the feelings that well up in me when I look back on the experience. I have never been stretched in such a good way, and have never felt closer to God. We are already looking ahead to our next trip. I guess this mission thing is for me!
Michael, an engineer, is a great example of how folks who have resisted (men especially!) “tasting” something new can really benefit from giving it a try. We appreciate his candor and cooperative spirit and look forward to being part of his journey forward. ~Lloyd