The Salvadoran Travel Enthusiast on Mission to Serve Jesus & Central America!
Two things about Liz, she loves Jesus and has a heart of service for Central America! With her family roots in El Salvador, she has always longed to serve her country and the broader region as a missionary. However, she’ll be the first to say that serving in this capacity is not easy. Even with her love for travel and people, each adventure in the field comes with a level of personal sacrifices and anxiety that she has to confront every time. But her willingness to go beyond her comfort zone and be a light to nations is always worth it in the end.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LIZ & WHY SHE TRAVELS TO SERVE:
Service Location: Antigua, Guatemala & Bluefields, Nicaragua
Date of Travel: August – December, 2017
Organization: Youth With A Mission – Discipleship Training School
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an introvert with a thirst for adventure. I enjoy being outdoors, having deep and meaningful conversations over coffee or a good cocktail. I love connecting with people beyond the surface level, which is why I absolutely hate small talk. I can be awkward in social settings.
Where do you live, work, and play?
I live in the San Fernando Valley/Los Angeles region and professionally I work in Social Services, specifically, with at risk youth and under resourced populations. I love to “play” outdoors by going on hikes, going to the beach, and even visiting the city. It’s part of the reason why I love where I live, I have such accessibility to all my favorite activities.
Why did you decide to travel abroad and volunteer your time?
At the beginning of 2017 I went on vacation to visit my best friend who is a long-term missionary who serves in Myanmar (formerly Burma). I got a first hand glimpse of her life serving in a foreign land and wanted to have my own adventure with Jesus! I’ve also had the privilege of traveling to serve in the past, namely, I’ve been part of and lead several short term missions’ teams to Kenya, El Salvador, Honduras & Nicaragua. I knew I wanted to return to the missions field and serve in Central America in the near future.
What was your selection process in choosing an organization to serve with and what about its mission moved you to sign up?
Many of my friends have done a DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM (Youth With a Mission Worldwide) so the decision to do serve with them was easy. YWAM has bases all over the world; basically any part of the world you wanna go YWAM is there! Knowing what region I wanted to serve in, I found a base in Antigua, Guatemala and just sent in my application. The purpose in doing a DTS was simple, to leave everything that brought me physical comfort behind and go on an adventure with Jesus and in process I would be challenged, serve others, grow spiritually, and be able to speak Spanish. Serving with YWAM was the longest I’ve been away from home & on outreach, a total of 5 months!
What was your overall service experience, i.e. was it challenging, amazing, or everything in between?
It was like anything else, frustrating at times, joyful, fun, irritating, encouraging, challenging, and incredible.
Would you recommend YWAM to others? What’s one thing they do well?
Absolutely! Every base varies in staff & experience but the structure of the program is effective in personal growth and opportunities to serve. Plus there are schools with special emphasis of interest (compassion ministry, surfing & relational evangelism, photography etc.).
What fears or concerns did you have to overcome in order to do this trip?
Oh man…anxiety (which is a life-long personal battle). I didn’t know anyone going into my program and literally only had Jesus to rely on for comfort & strength when I felt overwhelmed or anxious. Thankfully, I bonded with teammates who were also a great source of emotional support and comfort.
What did you learn about yourself on this trip specifically?
I learned that I’m selfish and tend to think about myself (a lot) and how things affect me directly. That’s not necessarily wrong but if I want to look more like Jesus then it starts by serving. Jesus came to the world to serve, yes he preached, healed and performed miracles but he displayed his love for the world by serving first. It’s hard to be selfish when you’re serving others.
How can we contact the organization and participate in a service trip?!!
Do you recommend others to travel to serve? Why or why not?
Yes! It challenges you to get out of your own mind set/perspective to meet people where they are and to love and serve them as they are. One of my favorite quotes is “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt. To me that encompasses serving in the mission field.
What quote inspires you to be adventurous?
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
Where is your favorite place that you’ve visited and why?
I would have to say Israel. This was my first overseas trip when I was 20 years old. I had previously never imagined or aspired to visit the Holy Land but being able to be there, visit traditional sites, read scriptures at the ACTUAL places where it spoke of was mind-blowing. I returned home feeling like the entire world was available and open to me if I wanted to see it.
What advice can you offer to someone traveling (abroad) for the first time?
Do your research but as someone who over thinks everything, you should probably “Just do it!” Book your flight and accommodations and go for it. You will seldom regret taking a chance on an adventure abroad; even the mishaps become funny stories to tell for years to come.
What are your top 3 reasons why everyone should travel?
- To Grow
- To broaden your worldview
- To experience people & places outside of your comfort zone
Where is the next place on your travel list?
Greece has been a top choice for FOREVER. I fantasize about riding vespas in Santorini. (Yes – ever since I saw “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”)