What is she doing here?

By Helen Guilford

Mission trips have been few since the pandemic, but this year our team leader chose to assemble a team to work with Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky once again. Former team members were contacted and a small team was put together.

Though my mind tells me I need to be part of that team, I do realize while my physical abilities are not what they used to be. The last time I was involved, there were days when the work to be done called for more strength and agility than I had. So, would I be an asset to the team or a hindrance?

My mind took me back to another mission trip, this one to Ecuador under different leadership. When we began to assemble at the airport in Miami, an OLD lady gathered with us. Other than our team leader, none of us knew who we were looking for, but surely this old lady was just in the same waiting area looking for someone else.

But, no, that was not the case. As our leader gathered the team together for announcements prior to boarding, the lady in question gathered with us.

Now very obviously, she was OLD! Our team always worked at manual labor during the day, then after showers and supper, held services which usually lasted for hours. What manual labor could she do? Could she even keep up the demanding schedule? In other words, what is she doing here? Had she and the team leader considered the cost both physically and spiritually?

When we got our hotel room assignments, she was assigned to the same suite of rooms as other ladies. As we all claimed our rooms, she took a private room. The bathroom was shared among all in the suite.

I don’t remember many things about the work mission that year. Other than sharing the suite, I really don’t recall her going to the work site, meals and services. The only fact I do remember of that lady is that she was a very quiet, reserved, elderly lady of 84 years with a heart for missions.

Whenever I’ve thought of her in the ensuing years, I’ve wondered what that trip meant to her.

But at long last, I understand because I’m now that elderly lady with a heart for missions on the team going to Kentucky early in October. I was limited in what I could do when we were there the last time and since that time two years have passed and so has much of my physical prowess!

I made the offer to our team leader that I would forego the trip if that would be better, but she assured me my presence is appreciated for what I CAN do, for who I am in Christ, for prayer support and for sometimes letting my sense of humor lighten the load for others even when I can’t do the work

So, with God’s blessing and the prayers of many, I’ll be there and allow God to use me as He sees fit. Perhaps someone will come to know Jesus just because “that old lady” was there. Perhaps, it’s to edify and strengthen my personal Christian life and testimony or maybe my presence will be an encouragement to another team member. “Missions” has finally come to be recognized as a work with people rather than bricks and mortar.

Lord, let me be a building block rather than a stumbling block. May You be glorified by my very presence on the team. Point out to me the needs of others and show me how to be a spokesperson for You even though I might not say a word so that others will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

By Helen Guilford