My Spanish Missions Trip Experience

I had the rare opportunity to go to Spain over Thanksgiving week to minister to Missionary Kids (MK’s). Each year the missionaries from all over Southern Europe get together for a traditional Thanksgiving and combine it with an annual business meeting and retreat. The kids tag along and until this year were usually kept busy with games and activities. This year they wanted something different. Most MK’s don’t get to experience any form of child-centered ministry or anything remotely close to what we’d call Kids Church. So Rev. Tony Gryskiewicz, missionary to the MK’s of Southern Europe, made a call to America to see if he could get a Children’s Pastor to come and minister to these children.

That call resulted in my Pastor approving me for the trip… my first out of the country. I got my expedited passport and prepared three 2 hour services. The trick was that two of the services were one after the other. A 2 hour service, a thirty minute break, then another 2 hour service. That’s a lot of church… especially for kids. Couple that with having limited supplies and being with kids who are bi-lingual and have been raised in various cultures across Europe… and you might understand that I was a little stressed. These folks were paying hundreds of dollars to ship me across the Atlantic… I’d better be good.

Long story short, it was an amazing experience. Even though the airline lost my luggage with my clothing, the missionary family’s Christmas gifts, and almost all of my ministry equipment… it was still a success. The kids were so hungry and eager for a children’s church experience with God that I wondered what I was ever so stressed over. I told the folks who would ask later, “I felt like I didn’t have to work at all… Like I was cheating at children’s ministry.” Everything went so well… and not because of any talent or skill of mine… I felt like the whole experience was “charmed” (for lack of a better word) because God was ensuring that these MK’s got what they needed.

Missionaries sacrifice so much to do the job they’ve been called to do. It’s a ton of little things: no home insulation, no immediate family nearby, no Walmart, no Pop Tarts. Then there’s being judged by the unsaid rules of another culture, bad conversion rates from the Dollar to the Euro, $1000 dollars for a license to drive, and not to mention having to leave your ministry every three and a half years to come back to America to raise funds to do it all again.

Missionaries are heroes… and so are their kids. These eight children that I spent over 6 hours with in a 4th grade classroom turned children’s church were some of the most un-spoiled kids I’d ever met. They were kids who’d been raised up outside the commercialism of the States and had parents who were literally living out the Great Commission. You could see a silent determination behind the eyes of each one. They knew they were sacrificing something… but it was for a great purpose.

During one of the services I made reference to the things they had given up as a part of a Missionary family. A few chimed in about various products they missed, mostly food items. I remember one 5 year old boy said, “I miss Cheese Puffs!” and the rest nodded in agreement. Then a 10 year old girl raised her hand, “We miss these things, but we don’t need them. We’re just glad to be helping our parents, learning another language and another culture.” The rest nodded in agreement. Wow, as they say. Just wow.

So hats off to Missionaries and their families. You are the heroes of my world. It was a true honor to be called out to minister to your kids. I only hate that I probably got more out of it than they did.

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