I have had the great opportunity to come to Guatemala in 3 of the past 5 years. It took the first 2 trips to really feel comfortable here and not feel out of place.
My first trip was full of overwhelming emotions. Every site, sound, and smell was brand new, and I was filled with feelings of wonder and amazement, but also sadness. Sadness for the people I was leaving behind in Guatemala and sadness for the conditions they were enduring.
But at the end of my 2nd trip, I felt as if I had experienced most everything that was possible for a team to experience while here. I've taught classes, been to Gerona, done varying construction projects, eaten great food, seen some amazing sights, cried on the last day of seeing the kids I had grown close to, and the list goes on.
When I finally said yes to God's call to come to Guatemala this year, I started thinking back to my past trips, wondering if there was anything new to experience. Where would the feelings of wonder and amazement come from? How was I going to experience that feeling of newness for a 3rd time?
A few places were obvious. I got to see and spend time with my sponsor kids and many people I had met over the years, and I got to spend time and create new bonds as well.
But what I have found to be the most exciting, the way I have experienced that newness I had been wondering about, was not through my own eyes, but through the eyes of the new members of the team. A majority of the people on our team of 20 this year have either never been on a mission trip, or been out of the United States before.