I have had a lot of people ask me about the Mozambique trip. One of the questions they always ask is "was it a good trip" and "did you get done what you wanted to". I had to think about how to answer that.
The short answer is "yes" and "no". Let me explain.
It was a VERY good trip. We had a great team and wonderful help from the Woods family and Tim. Our team was a mix of "veterans" of previous trips with a good number of new recruits. They were all tested by the conditions (tents, open-air toilets, limited showers, rainy and humid nights), but were able to bond as a group. One of the takaways from this year is to focus MORE on the team building so that we all get more of a chance to know each other. This year gave everyone a glimpse of what conditions most missionary and volunteer groups work under. I think we will all have a greater appreciation for the mission trips where we are staying in hotels.
The Woods family and Tim are long-term volunteers that are spending years in Mozambique and dedicating parts of their lives to the cause. I can't say enough how much respect I have for them and that they put God's mission first in their lives. A lot of us say that, but they are truly showing it and I really admire that. They were such a help and an inspiration.
As far as getting done what "I" wanted us to, well, that is another story. The problem with the question (and my attitude going in) is the I part of it. I certainly did have expectations that we would complete our half of the school. I felt that we had an experienced group and a large enough group that we would be able to finish. Things happen. God has other plans and when I don't turn things over to him, I inevitably get frustrated when they don't go "my" way. We didn't complete the school, but at the end of the day, that is OK. We know that Maranatha will complete it and we got done what we could, with God's help. This year was a lesson to me in turning things over to God right away and in humility. I was EXTREMELY frustrated with the situation and in my leadership abilities because we weren't making the progress that was necessary to complete. Once I realized that things were out of my hands and that there was nothing I could do, I turned it over and had a much more relaxed week.
I found out after the trip was over the reason why our block was in such bad shape. Maranatha had purchased our block WELL in advance of our arrival. They had inspected the block and they were great, uniform, well made block. When the crew went to go get the block about a week before we arrived, the company had sold the block to someone who paid more money! So, they had to scramble to find the best they could. That is what happens sometime and we have to roll with it. Maybe that other building needed it more than we did---who knows.
I wouldn't change the experience for the world. It gave all of us a lot of valuable experience and I will take some things away to help plan and execute further trips.
Thanks again to all the participants on the trip - you were all troopers and did great work. Also thanks to all of those that were praying for the trip. Thanks to my wife Rachael for all of her encouragement and for posting the blog entries when my phone wasn't working! Thanks to Tito Charneco for all of your encouragement and help with the sermon. And the biggest thanks to God for giving us all the gifts that we use every day and for guidance on the trip.
We are starting planning for 2010 in Mexico, so more information to come on that!