Well, just like that….I made a decision to go on my first ever foreign mission trip. What was I thinking because, sadly, I had never desired to go and, in fact, had felt guilty for my lack of interest. Since I do not consider myself a gifted server and a trip of this kind was all about serving, I never thought it was for me.
Surprisingly, even to myself, I had asked a few questions about the trip and was told the deadline was only a few days away. I found myself making the decision within hours of the cutoff time.
So, I was signed up and committed and had no earthly idea why I was going, but knew that I was supposed to be there. Quickly I found out that the mission was not at all what I envisioned (as I thought it would be a bit like church camp or a Billy Graham crusade). So, I wondered where I would serve.
After deciding that the evangelistic team, prayer team and construction team were not a fit for me, I landed on the medical team. Being the eternal optimist, I was exited to wear scrubs and look and feel the part of a medical professional even though I am not.
During the flight to El Salvador, I was truly wondering why I was going and how in the world the Lord would use me. It was only fitting that our first evening the mission director asked us to entertain two questions during the week.
Why am I here?
Why does God have me here?
These were things that I definitely wanted to know as well.
As I donned my scrubs and looked for opportunities, I became excited about interacting with people and sharing some encouragement. After sitting down to chat with a woman who was waiting to see the doctor, it struck me. The fact that I did not speak Spanish was going to be a HUGE barrier. Seriously, I mean seriously, I had not even thought about that. That day, I passed out many smiles, pats on the shoulder and hugs and still wondered why I was there.
The next day while in clinic I was asked to wait with a lady while the nurse went to draw a shot for her. As I was standing next to this seated older woman who had walked for hours to get there, I put my hand on her and began to pat her back and apply some pressure to massage her shoulders.
She sighed and smiled to let me know that she enjoyed what I was doing so I leaned around and looked at her and asked, “Is bueno?” Talking to me ninety to nothing in Spanish, which I did not understand, she smiled and shook her head encouraging me to continue.
When she finished with the nurse and went back into the lobby where around twenty other women were waiting, I continued her massage. I looked over to see that the other women were watching me and giving me a little nod as if to say, “Would you do that for me?”
For the next three hours, I had women in my chair and even though we could not speak to each other verbally, there was communication going on. I knew by their body language that they were enjoying the physical touch on shoulders that carried so much.
No, I’m not a licensed massage therapist but I have had the privilege of receiving a few massages in my time, so I just did what I like.
For some, I massaged their shoulders, arms and back. For others, I lightly touched their faces, massaged their scalps and even pulled on their ears, which they probably found amusing. The ear thing has to do with pressure points that relieve stress and tension.
The following two days when we set up clinics on sites up on the mountain and in the city where there was no air-conditioning, I continued to massage every single woman who came to see the doctor. At one point, my eyes got huge when the doctor told me that one of the patients NEEDED a massage. Wow! I had been prescribed as a therapy!
Why was I there and why did God have me there? He had me there to be His hands extended to show His love and compassion through physical touch. We know that Jesus was all about touching people. He also let me know that He would use WHAT I HAD and would make available to Him.
The scripture in Exodus 4:2 where the Lord asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” came to mind when I got back home.
The Lord wants to use WHAT WE HAVE and does not expect us to use what we do not have.
So, my friend, what is in your hand TODAY that He can use for HIS glory? Because, believe me, you have something!
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Carla Holtz grew up in a cozy Oklahoma town where she was part of a wonderful church and youth group providing the place for her to meet her husband, Randy of now 35 years. A comfy person is a suitable description of Carla, as she is someone people feel they have known for a long time. By combining humor with life experiences and the Word, she brings practical wisdom for everyday living through her writings and her opportunities to speak at women’s events. It is her goal to bring encouragement to fellow Christians while living a life that draws people to the Lord. Currently, Carla serves her church in a way which allows her to help people get connected to the body of believers and discover where they can best use their God-given gifts. Carla and Randy have planted deep roots in their Oklahoma community where they raised their children and now have the blessing of enjoying their grandchildren.