Our Mission Trip to Puerto Vallarta by Makayla Maves
I just spent most of March in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on a mission trip and I wanted to share a couple stories from my time there. While we were there we got to partner alongside the Vineyard Church in Vallarta, that in itself was an absolutely amazing experience to be able to experience the Vineyard Movement internationally! It was so cool to be able to see what God was doing in Vallarta and get to participate in it.
One of my favorite times was the first week we got there, during a church service my classmates and I got to pray for a lady who had really bad pain from her neck to her shoulder. I have prayed for healing before but this time it felt different. I started praying with this overwhelming expectancy to see God heal. My eyes were starting to well up with tears as we were praying for her because I was so moved with this longing. As we kept praying she began to weep, and when she opened her eyes she told us “no tengo dolor” which means “I have no pain”. It was such a powerful moment. We got to see God’s Kingdom come, I could tangibly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and I don’t really know how to describe it other than an overwhelming sense of joy and thanksgiving.
The next week, we had the opportunity to pray about and plan our own outreaches around the city. I really connect to Jesus through experiencing His heart for Justice in the lives of the outcast and marginalized, specifically those involved in human trafficking and prostitution. As I was praying about what kind of outreach we could do I felt the Lord start opening my eyes to the power of prayer. A lot of times it's hard for me to find any sense of peace in justice because we live in a world where injustice is a constant global adversary. I am aware that injustice is so much bigger than myself and it feels like there’s no way I could ever make a difference. But then I am reminded of my creator, the creator of the universe. I remember His heart for justice, the way throughout the gospels that He was moved with compassion for people. The definition of compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” The way that Jesus cares for the broken hearted, the ones who people shame, the ones who are never seen, the ones who never feel like they are enough, the ones who society has put a price on. He is the mender of hearts, He welcomes people with open arms, He knows them completely, He declares them as beloved sons and daughters, He calls them worthy and proclaims them priceless. He has come to set the captives free. As God began to remind me of His heart, He began to open my own.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Luke 11:9-10
I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to start asking. To start trusting, even if I can’t see what He’s doing, even if I don’t know the outcome, that He is big enough to move and work even if I can’t know exactly what He is doing. He challenged me, would I still be willing to ask, to approach prayer in a way as passionate as I feel about injustice? My outreach was to go downtown and simply pray. To ask. Downtown Puerto Vallarta at night is full of bars, clubs and many different people. The whole point of the outreach was to partner alongside what God was already doing in that area, trusting that He is pursuing each and every person we saw, that He deeply loves them and asking Him to reveal more of His love to them. Now we didn't get to see all of what He did that night, or what He is doing still but I have complete confidence that the same God who healed the first week is still healing and bringing justice and freedom. He is setting the captives free.
Throughout my time in Mexico, we did and experienced a lot of different things. But what was truly a blessing on this trip was following the lead of the Holy Spirit. It maybe sounds a little like a “duh” why wouldn’t you do that” kind-of-thing. But this mission trip was so different than any other trip I had been on because it was so intentional. That’s how we did life, we went to the local neighborhoods, and we went to tourist areas. We got to teach classes, and lead a prophetic night. We saw the already and the not yet of the kingdom. Jesus came for all people, because we have all experienced brokenness in our lives. Being there we were also challenged as Jesus was moving and bringing up brokenness in our own life, and we did it all because of the Holy Spirit. Being there for three weeks, we were better able to be a part of the culture. We got to experience the differences from the busyness of American culture, build relationships over the course of a month and meet many different people from very different walks of life. Realizing the way you do ministry in warm cultures is very different than how you would do ministry in cold cultures. It was truly amazing the way we got to experience a culture so beautifully different from our own.