Many people go on mission trips, often when they are teens. For Betty Van Weerdhuizen, it took 83 years. “I couldn’t go any sooner and might not be able to later!” she said.
Van Weerdhuizen is a member of Escalon (Calif.) Christian Reformed Church. She joined a team of seven people whose ages spanned six decades. They traveled to Guatemala to assist with the work of World Renew in a northern village.
The group had intended to build a small health clinic, but when they arrived, it turned out the villagers had things well in hand toward completing the building. Instead the Escalon CRC members spent most of their time developing relationships, seeing the good work going on, and learning more about the world in which the Guatemalans live.
Pastor David Vander Meulen said, “It is much easier to explain how we were blessed than how we blessed them. We saw their world. Seeing what God is doing shapes our prayers.”
Van Weerdhuizen decided to go on the trip because she has a love for mission work. “I was married 61 years, lived on a dairy farm and was—and still am—very active,” she said. Talking about the gardens in Guatemala and people’s efforts to be self-sufficient, she said, “I felt like I could understand. I’m a farm girl. I’d rather be outside working with a hoe and a shovel than anything else.”
She was struck by the contentment and happiness of people who had so little in material goods. “The kids had no toys. We brought them cards from our Sunday school class, and the kids took them as if they were worth a million dollars. They’d come up on your lap and fall asleep.”
When it was time to say goodbye, even after just six days together, many of the team members shed tears. Van Weerdhuizen told the congregation back home, “We couldn’t understand each other when we spoke, and they were not dressed like we were. But we had one big thing in common: we all serve the same God.”
Van Weerdhuizen encourages other people from her generation to be involved. “The Lord willing, I hope I get to go again. This was the only vacation—and I’ll call it that!—I’ve ever been on that I didn’t want to come home.”