We recently had a group of women from Brook Hills go on a short-term trip to work with Long-Termer Sharron Shafer in Guatemala. For the next couple of Thursdays, we will feature several stories from this trip. Today's post was written by Brook Hills member and the trip team leader, Maria Luttrell.

Recently I led a group of 9 ladies on a one-week mission trip to Guatemala. We went in support of one of our church members, Sharron Schafer. Sharron is serving as a missionary and sewing instructor at

[caption id="attachment_800" align="alignright" width="300"] Packing Party Before the Trip[/caption]

Casa Aleluya. This was my first experience in leading a mission trip, and I am forever changed and feeling extremely blessed!

There were many highlights and insights that I took away from this experience. First and foremost was a real feeling of being prayed for and an assurance that those prayers were being answered. Each of us arrived safely, and each of us returned safely. We had no medical issues or ailments. We did have one team member whose father passed away while we were in Guatemala. She felt God told her to stay and complete the mission and that her father would have wanted her to stay. She was a rock and an incredible example of obedience to God! Below are some key highlights that I would like to share. My prayer is that you will be inspired and seek God, asking Him where He will send you!

  • Hearing Mike Clark's (founder of Casa Aleluya) testimony and seeing the love he has for God and the children, observing his total obedience to God's plan, and witnessing blessings when one walks in obedience to God’s plan. I would say Mike and his wife, Dottie, are “eating the good of the land” as they live out Isaiah 1:19 (If you are willing and obedient, you shall…).

  • Loving on the children and playing with the children. Many of the children at Casa Aleluya are broken from abuse and abandonment issues/experiences; however, I was encouraged as I witnessed the love the children had for each other, the staff members, and us. (1 Cor 16:4).

  • Teaching new crochet techniques to the village ladies at the Sewing Center in Parramos and experiencing a beautiful blessing in them showing their appreciation in words and in handmade gifts they gave to me and another team member.

  • Serving villagers while distributing clothing at a church in a rural village in Parramos. Experiencing the sight of a church with a dirt floor and being blessed by the smile and sparkle in a little child's eyes because she was able to pick out a new toy. Even though the stuffed elephant had a huge gaping hole in its neck, and the stuffing was coming out, this child was so excited as she pulled it in close to her, hugging it ever so tightly! Insert tears here!

  • Growing in relationship with the other team members and with Sharron.

  • Sharing with a 13 year old girl that God will NEVER abandon her (Deut 31:6).

  • Personally experiencing how uplifting and encouraging it is for a team to come from a missionary's home church. Sharron must have thanked us a million times, and I could see her sincere emotion and could tell that she was blessed beyond measure because people from her church came (1 Thes 3:2).

  • Witnessing the youth living out 1 Timothy 4:12 ("Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity"). The youth led the children's church as well as performed plays and skits for a prayer vigil. Again, insert tears here – tears of admiration and joy.

  • Seeing first hand how God imparts different abilities and gifts (different levels of abilities and gifts too) – love for others, serving, giving, wisdom, patience, and more!

  • Assisting with alterations for Quinceañeras (pronounced: [kin.se.aˈɲe.ɾa]; feminine form of "fifteen-year-old"), also called fiesta de quince años, fiesta de quinceañera, quince años or simply quince, is the celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of people from Latin America. This birthday is celebrated differently from any other birthday, as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. The celebration, however, varies significantly across countries, with celebrations in some countries taking on, for example, more religious overtones than in others. My heart was warmed by the excitement (although some of the girls were quite shy) in the faces of the young girls’ as they tried on their formal gowns that they will wear for their 15th birthday celebration. I think we fitted and altered 24 gowns.

Sharron was a delight to work with both prior to leaving and while on the ground. She was very helpful with corresponding via email and communicating the needs at Casa and in helping us to prepare and plan for our mission trip. While at Casa, she was very supportive and extremely excited to share "her" Guatemala with us.

There are many more stories and insights I could add, but I can now say I have experienced a mission trip, and I cannot wait until the next one! I feel fully blessed on a whole new level! I KNOW there are many things I can do without! I know I want to return to Casa, and I hope you have been moved to go somewhere too!