September 19 2008 / ShareHim in Venezuela, Aug. 29 - Sep. 13 '08 #324
by Linda Chang

Personal Testimony of Linda Chang.

I went on the Venezuela campaign from August 29 to September 13, 2008 and preached at the Capacho Church. Karen Glassford was our coordinator, while Leo Ranzolin was the PUC group leader. There are many events that I would like to share because I learned so much. However, I’m only going to talk about how I went on the trip and three of the most important memories for me on the trip. This was my first mission trip ever, and it truly was like one of the most beautiful dreams that came true for me.

When I first heard about going to Venezuela, I was interested, but it seemed unfathomable. I didn’t apply to go, and with finances, going on a mission trip was impossible. I spent my time working in the summer to save money for tuition for fall quarter. As I worked at the library, Professor Ranzolin came and asked me if I would be interested in going on the ShareHim trip. I looked at my schedule and realized that the trip would be during the only free time that I’ve ever had in a couple of years. I’m usually preoccupied with other ministry activities and so my schedule is usually full. However, it just so happened to be open during the time of the campaign. Well, I didn’t want to ask my church for offering because I have had issues from asking in the past. (That’s another story of its own.) So, as a way of protecting myself, I didn’t bother asking for money but rely on my own strength. So, I checked my account and I had about just enough to be able to go on the trip. So I figured that it was God’s will for me to go.

The first memorable event that stayed constantly on my mind during the trip was when I opened my luggage bag at the hotel in Catia de la Mar. To my frustration, my detergent box had been broken and detergent spilled all over in the inside my luggage bag. It was so bad that it remained that way for the rest of the trip. I took out my clothes and shook out as much soap as I could. However, to my amazement as I was shaking out the soap the detergent became a sign to me of how God was going to clean out my life as I was on this trip, and he did. He opened my eyes like never before on this trip, and I knew that I had gone into deeper waters coming out of this trip.

The second memorable event was life changing for me. As I preached at Capacho and got to know the church, I gradually fell in love with it. My driver was the first elder, and he and his wife along with my translator and I would crack jokes on our drives to the church and back. As issues with the people of the church began to unfold, I found myself enjoying and soaking in the events even more so. There was an eleven-year-old boy who ran away from home for a night that never came back to the meetings. His mother was dramatic and the father was violent. As more and more flaws of the people came out, I saw and felt for the first time how God felt about people. More than anything, I wanted to let these people know that I didn’t care for their past and what they’ve done. I only cared about the fact that at the moment they were enjoying the presence of Jesus and wanted to know more about God and his love for them. Most desperately, I wanted them to know that there is a God who exists and that this God loves them. I used to think that I would never be able to understand how God could love people that didn’t deserved to be loved and now for the first time I think I understand Him even if a little.

The third most memorable event for me was living in poverty. The first sign for me was when we went to the beach. I really needed to use the bathroom and it was horrible when I got there. All the toilets were filled with excretions from who knows how long. Not only that, but there was no toilet paper. I found out later on my trip that basically it was normal to not have toilet paper in the bathrooms over there. That was a shock for me. Going on home visitations, I found that people were used to curtain doors. There was a home I visited where bugs crawled on the kitchen table and we were eating with them. I prayed hard at that moment. I recalled how God promised to protect his people from poison. This time I was holding God to that promise but to protect me from any bugs I might have eaten. Being a vegetarian is not a good idea over there. The only thing that most of the places had that was vegetarian was cheese-filled and that’s if you were lucky. That or maybe I was going to all the wrong places. As the trip was nearing its end, I literally had no money to spare--not even on food. I come from a poor family, but my parents have never ceased to keep the fridge filled with food. So I was used to being poor, but this was the first time I was poor and hungry because I was poor. I realized how lucky I was at home. I now look at money in a different way and use it sparingly on the things I need. It actually hurts to spend luxuriously now.

When I was a kid, I used to dream that I would one day go on a mission trip, but it was impossible for me. My parents always had other bills to think about and so I never dreamed that I would actually go on a mission trip. But I wanted to make it a goal anyway, and thanks to God and the people who support ShareHim my dream was able to come true. So thank you.
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