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A Call to Obedience

Oftentimes, we wonder what the long-term impact of short-term missions is on those who journey with Orphan Outreach. Amy Haroff shares her story of a life forever changed by one week. IMG_4534 Have you ever fallen in love?  I don’t mean with a person; I mean with a people, with a culture. I first fell in love with the people of Latin America in 1996 when I studied abroad in Mexico. The flame was fanned in 2000 when I vacationed in Costa Rica and then again in 2008 when I spent four months serving in Mexico.  My love kept calling me back, and in 2012 and 2013 I went on week-long mission trips to Guatemala through Orphan Outreach.  The thing of it is, after that second trip, I came home with an unsatisfied heart.  One week was not enough.  I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to go for more than just a week or a few months.  He wanted me to go for a whole year, and he had been preparing me for this possibility for quite a while.

You could say that being a missionary is in my blood.  My grandparents were missionaries to Bolivia in the 1920s, and I grew up listening to their stories and also to my mom’s dreams of becoming a missionary.  Unfortunately, my mom’s teaching career, family life, and premature death prevented her from ever achieving her dream. I also grew up listening to my dad speak Spanish and tell his stories of traveling and teaching English throughout Mexico.  With these seeds planted in my life, it is no wonder that I developed a love for Spanish and traveling, and a heart for serving and teaching.

After working as an occupational therapist for fifteen years, God nudged me to complete a Master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages.  After two years, I was finished, and ready to start looking for places to use my degree. The thing of it is, I didn’t even have to go looking.  As always, God was ahead of me, paving the way.  As I read through Orphan Outreach’s prayer e-mail, I learned that Jubilee Centers International, a school in a poor, violent neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was looking for an English teacher.  I got in touch with the directors, Emily and David Romero, and after visiting their ministry in August, 2014, I knew it was the place where God wanted me to serve.  The best part was, they had already hired an English teacher for the school which would leave me free to develop a community outreach English program and to assist administratively with the operations of the ministry.  In a matter of five months, all the arrangements were made;  I had quit my job, moved my house into a storage unit, and said tearful farewells to beloved family and friends.  I exchanged my world for a brand new one. Was this risky?  Yes, but even more than that, it was obedience. It was a demonstration of faith and trust.  I had complete peace in my heart about going, and even in times of doubt when I considered staying put, I felt such anxiety about staying that I knew that I had to go! amy in class I’ve been serving with Jubilee Centers International for over two months now, and despite the expected challenges, I am filled with joy and gratitude to be living this dream that God placed on my heart.  I realize that so few people really get the opportunity to live out their dreams, and this is an incredible privilege and honor!  God is stretching me and teaching me about submission and self-sacrifice.  In this season of service, he is showing me how to humbly receive. God is guiding me more and more each day to fully trust and rely on him alone; I can not do this on my own strength, but with his strength, I can do all things (Phil. 4:13)!

Going on week-long mission trips has incredible value in so very many ways.  Something almost magical happens when like-minded people come together, united in purpose—God’s purpose. In the span of a few short days, a team of energetic servants can transform a dormitory into a cozy home with a fresh coat of paint and new bedding; it can bring much needed supplies to families who are barely making it financially; and, most importantly, a team can share the tangible love of Christ by simply spending time with the people it’s serving.  I remember on my first trip to Guatemala being so surprised by the friendliness of the orphans we interacted with.  My shyness didn’t stand a chance in the face of their hunger for love and affection!  By the end of our time, each member of my team had connected with several of the precious hearts we were serving.  We promised to return the next year, and we did.  We picked up where we had left off with our relationship-building, and we took the baton from other teams who had been there working on projects. My team was only there for a few days, but indelible impressions were made, not only on our hearts, but, Lord willing, on the hearts of all those we served.

My short-term mission trips with Orphan Outreach were pivotal in preparing me for my current long-term position.  By being in Honduras for a year, I pray that I am able to do infinitely more in terms of building relationships, loving people, and having an impact on their lives.  In return, I know without a doubt that my life will also be changed.  While I am here teaching English, I am already getting a lesson from the community on how to be full of joy and appreciation even in the direst of circumstances.  My eyes are being opened wider and wider to just how pampered my life in the the USA really was.  I am learning what it is like to let go of some of my freedom and independence and to truly live in community.  And, lastly, I am learning that children here need what children and adults everywhere need: to be loved, to know that they matter, to have their basic needs met, to be kept safe, to be taught the gospel, to be heard, to be empowered, and to be filled with hope and a desire to make a difference in their world. If I can contribute to any of these needs, even to just a few, my time here will not have been wasted.  Please pray for me and for the community that I am serving, that we would all grow in our faith, that we would fully rely on God to be our everything, and that we would follow God’s will for our lives. Gracias y bendiciones.

Are you ready to fall in love? Join us on a short-term mission trip. 

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