By now you're on the edge of your computer chair going, "What happened???" Don't worry. Nothing big, scary, or outwardly monumental happened. I will try to give you a brief sketch.
You know how God likes to spring things on you without telling you about them first? Apparently e3 partners does too. We didn't find out until the end of the tour day that part of our team (i.e., the part I was on) would be spending 2 days in the West Bank doing an eyeglass clinic; our small group of 4 would be in a predominately Muslim city notorious for producing suicide bombers, it would be illegal to share our faith, we might not have interpreters, and we were supposed to somehow show the love of Christ to the complete strangers in the clinic, but not to the opposite sex.
The first day the clinic was in a Palestinian cultural center. I don't know if they have AC anywhere in the West Bank. We were working with a couple of Christ-followers, but the center and all the patients were Muslim. I felt so useless. Looking back, I'm still not sure how God used me in that place. I don't know if I exuded the love of Christ. Most of the time I talked with a group of Palestinian girls, my age, only a few of whom spoke any English. They were beautiful and delightful. If God worked in their hearts that day, it was not because of anything I did. It's hard to feel so useless and inadequate. When we go somewhere to do ministry and we see no results, it seems impossible to believe that God did anything. I will probably never know what happened to the girls I spent the day with, but can I really not trust God that he can work without me? Do I really think that there must be instantaneous visible results in order for there to be any results? Does God work like a bag of popcorn in a microwave?
There is one definite result, though: God broke my heart for Palestinians those two days, and I knew by the end of the first day that I wanted to come back.
We stayed the night in a nearby village, in an apartment the Catholic church had rented for us. There was no AC, no fans, and cracks in the window sills large enough to let in what felt like a few hundred mosquitoes. Donkeys and roosters serenaded us at night, and the call to prayer woke us up at 4 AM. But, the place was beautiful:
All of Palestine was beautiful, even if it was "dirty" by American standards, run down, and battered.
I think that sometimes when God takes us places to do ministry, it's not because he needs us there; rather, he has something to teach us there. Turns out that maybe mission trips aren't just to change the places we go to, but to change our hearts and grow them to be more Christlike. God used the West Bank and my feelings of uselessness to teach me that he is made perfect in my weakness, and that I must trust in his plan, even though I can't see it. Also, he began teaching me the use and power of prayer, which I would love to delve into in another blog post.