Friends of Cozumel is fortunate to have volunteers who come to our mission weeks from many directions. Some simply want to connect with local people and help where they can. Others have faith-based interests and seek out church connections. Here’s the perspective of Sarah, a new volunteer from Maryland.
Volunteering in Cozumel has been a life-changing experience. I came here with the CREW Project to serve two local churches and to partner with Friends of Cozumel on various projects. This is my first mission trip and I am grateful for the experience and for the people I’ve met.
Initially I wasn’t very excited about the church activities. I guess I thought I didn’t have anything to offer but entertaining with games and pizza parties. But as I reflect on those events, I am reminded of a very important lesson that I learned many years ago: don’t overlook the being for the doing.
As North Americans, we lose sight of the things that really matter while chasing the latest technology or the newest shiny things. As Christians in the mission field, we get hung up on serving and providing and doing. As people, we focus on completing our checklists and getting things accomplished. We stay so busy doing things that we forget to be. We don’t realize that our time and presence with others is what sustains us as humans.
It is great to do things for others and for God, but we need to make it a priority to spend time being with God and our loved ones. This is the message that the CREW Project shared at Vida Abundante Church here on the island. We provided a visual display with objects in a jar that represented very important, somewhat important, and trivial things in our lives. When we fill the jar of life with the little things, giving those trivialities our first time and attention, there isn’t enough room to fit in the really important things. However, when we start with the big, meaningful things, it doesn’t matter if all the small things fit.
Pastors Salomon and Mariela of Vida Abundante felt blessed with the lesson and said the visuals made the message easier to understand.
“The organization of the materials presented was great,” Pastora Mariela said.
We also worked with Casa Oración, the jungle church as we call it, outside of Cozumel’s main community.
Both churches are excellent examples of hospitality. My team could have shown up with empty hands and empty pockets and would have been welcomed just as warmly. It seems to me that our presence here was the gift.
I believe an equal exchange took place between the Crew Project and these churches. We provided financial and material resources. In return, we were offered the simplicity of worship of our Creator and the goodness of fellowship and unconditional love. The love of Jesus Christ surpasses race, language, and geography. The language barrier made communication difficult but I was personally able to bond with the children and adults over water balloons and photo props.
The theme of the vacation Bible school at Casa Oración was praising God at all times. It was very fitting for us as visitors. Could we praise God in a church without air conditioning in Cozumel’s extreme heat? Could we praise Him with aching feet and sweat running all over? The answer was yes. We sang and danced and filled that place with praise. Both of the churches we visited were filled with more love and genuine praise than most U.S. churches. It was refreshing to get a break from the cushiness, flash and politics of church at home. It’s not about the building but about the community; it’s about living out the love of Christ.
I consider it a gift to worship God from the perspective of those who may have less in terms of wealth or materials things because in many ways they have more. This trip has truly been a humbling experience and I look forward to doing it again. ~ Sarah from Maryland