I never saw it as a risk when I backpacked alone across Europe, or when I traveled internationally for work with my corporate job. It never matters why I travel, that same pull to go is ever present. I started saving my money for the Honduras mission trip last year, when I felt that all-familiar calling on my heart to go. I had never been on an adult mission trip, only a chaperone for youth trips. I knew this journey would be different, maybe even a little risky.
When we arrived in Roatan, our group was split into two teams for the work we would be doing on the island. One team would offer Vacation Bible School at the Methodist Church in Flowers Bay, while the other team would do construction work at an orphanage. The last day of mission work, the entire group converged on the orphanage for a big, final push to get all the projects complete.
On that day, when everyone was scurrying around sweeping, cleaning, painting and more, one of the orphans, Roybin, looked at me and said a couple of times, "Homework - you know homework?" He wanted me to help with his homework, so I said, "Sure." We sat together in the makeshift living room of that tattered orphanage. As my fellow teammates worked feverishly to finish, guilt flashed through me, since I was getting to sit down while they were sweating while working so hard. One of my teammates, came by, looked me right in the eyes and nodded with an approving look. Somehow, I knew that was God saying, "Stay right where you are and help this boy with his homework." We read the sentences together, picking out the verbs. Roybin flashed the biggest smile every time we finished a sentence. I paused as we neared the end of the page and knew that very moment would be my pinnacle of a trip that had offered more than I ever imagined possible.
I came home with 16 new best friends and lifelong memories of a beautiful island paradise, where just behind the fancy resorts, lies poverty that will make you cringe and hearts so wide open, you can't help but be transformed. I went to give, and while maybe I did in some small way, what I received left me filled with deep faith, unending hope and boundless love. God was already there working feverishly. And He was waiting for us, waiting to give our souls a reminder of His goodness. I'm grateful I took the risk.
Whether your risk is a mission trip, reaching out to an estranged friend or teaching children's Sunday School, do it - your heart will thank you.
This article was originally published for St. Luke's Daily Devotionals series in April 2015.