How a mission trip gave her a blessing to hold tight
By Jeannette Cruz
Editor’s note: This is a new GCU Magazine feature from the August 2017 issue in which students, faculty, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. The first installment is staff writer Jeannette Cruz’s moving account of her mission trip to Indonesia. GCU students and staff who would like to be considered for My LopeLife are invited to submit a short synopsis of their topic to GCUToday@gcu.edu with “My LopeLife” in the subject field. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
God led me into a new adventure with Him when I began working at Grand Canyon University almost two years ago. I attended Chapel on Monday mornings and a Young Adult group with new friends on Wednesday nights, and I intentionally searched for ways to serve God within my community.
Although I was raised in the church, I experienced an unhealthy upbringing that often made me feel worthless, unqualified and detracted from my faith in the Lord. But when I arrived at GCU and I heard and saw the way the Lord used people around me, I became inspired about letting God bless me.
The second biggest blessing of my life (the first being my daughter) was when I went on a mission trip to Indonesia for two weeks this spring.
As a young girl, I studied a collection of World Book encyclopedias we owned and created stories and travel brochures of fascinating places.
At 10 years old, I wanted to move to Alaska. In high school, I wanted to start an orphanage overseas after reading about one in Peru. In college, I was a journalism student who wanted to change the world.
I always had hoped to find a way to use my passion for writing and my love for humanity to serve Christ. My mission work meant bonding with strangers in profound ways, talking about God while relying on the few notes of Indonesian words in my notebook, Google Translate on my phone or drawing pictures.
But above all, it meant putting myself in a vulnerable position every single day to allow God to fill me no matter how scared I was.
Three major things happened to me on this mission trip.
I was the center of attention more than I ever had been before. I was asked to pose for photos wherever I went – the park, the classrooms, the orphanage. I almost was treated like a celebrity.
In the classrooms I sang much louder than ever before and danced wholeheartedly just to see the students laugh.
The other major change was that I was able to pray for and upon others out loud. Usually my prayers are on the tip of my tongue, but I pass on saying them aloud. This time, I submitted to the Holy’s Spirit’s request.
But the most moving part of my trip was loving on 40 children at an orphanage who called me Ibu (ma’am), letting them play with my curls and holding hands to climb a waterfall together.
The day I arrived, I was carrying a backpack filled with toys, candy and crayons. From that day on, when I arrived at the orphanage their faces lit up, their arms went in the air and they couldn’t wait to find out what I had in my backpack.
They also came to me when they needed comfort or wanted to show off their jump rope tricks, and they cheered me on when I went on my first motorcycle ride.
I befriended many sweet faces, and on our last day together we drew many pictures together. One very quiet boy drew a picture of a home with a frowning sun shining above. I took his crayon and drew a curved line to turn it into a smile. I told him I would miss him and we hugged.
There are not enough words to describe what Indonesia did for me, but I know that it changed many lives – including mine.
ABOUT JEANNETTE CRUZ:
Jeannette Cruz was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. She studied English and journalism at Arizona State University, then was a reporter at a community newspaper in Avondale. In her free time, she loves to cook, hike, stalk Ayesha Curry on Instagram and go on road trips with her daughter, Jeymari. She also writes fiction, poetry, dances bachata and admits to being a serial cookie eater.
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org