Written by Kasey Madden, serving as a short-term volunteer (intern) with J.D. and Rhonda Reed in Cochabamba, Bolivia, at the House of Hope. Kasey is a Marshall University graduate.
For the longest time I prayed to have a heart for the world. Looking back on my past four years in college, I can see God working to answer my prayer.
I went on my first mission trip (ever) to Bolivia in March and when the Reeds mentioned they needed help building a website this summer, I finally realized I could use the skills God had given me in a missional context. The more I stayed in Bolivia, the more I learned living missionally is not about your education or experience, it’s about loving God, being obedient and being willing.
During my time in Bolivia, I was able to learn a lot from the Reeds- about family life, living missionally, living cross-culturally and how to love people well wherever you are. It was so fun to see their family interact with each other, whether it was building something or playing a board game, their love for each other and for God is evident.
Coming from a state with the population about the same size as the entire city of Cochabamba, culturally adapting to the country was interesting. I learned there are a lot of big things and a lot of little things that transcend culture: loving Jesus, bifocals, crazy eights, temper tantrums, emojis and peek-a-boo. Not knowing much Spanish, I learned that communicating doesn’t always have to be in words, especially when showing your appreciation.
I was given the opportunity to visit several of the ministry sites the House of Hope works alongside and to hear stories first hand about the hope the ministries provide to the people of Cochabamba. I saw a lot of hurt in the city that day, but I also saw a lot of hope from the people dedicated within the ministries to bring hope to people who don’t have much at all. I was privileged to take a family photo of a family for the first time and it was incredible to see the joy on their faces showing them how they looked together.
As much as I loved being able to work with teams outside and getting my hands dirty, some of the most important lessons I learned were from doing the dishes. One of my favorite quotes is, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the dishes.” The more I thought about this quote during my time in Bolivia, I realized that a lot of world changing is doing the dishes or it can’t take place without the dishes being done.
Whether it was getting covered in purple paint from painting a tire, learning Bolivian culture, attempting to understand Spanish and hold a conversation or building a website, I learned serving the Lord cross culturally looks a lot like serving the Lord at home.