I recently returned from my second trip to Guatemala with Lipscomb Engineering Missions. We were there to install six solar powered remote water monitoring systems in rural communities so that residents would be able to check the water levels in their community storage tanks. These systems allow community leaders to make informed decisions about their water conservation and will hopefully prevent the communities from having shortages in the dry season. I love going on these missions trips. They are really special and have permanently impacted my life. There are four things that I really love about these trips and I would encourage any engineering student to get involved.
To begin with, I love that I get the opportunity to not only see how God can use my discipline to help others, but that I get to participate in the design work alongside other students and my professors. The designs for each trip’s projects are unique because the students in the College of Engineering do a lot of the work themselves. This is a great opportunity for underclassmen to get involved immediately in projects that are educational and also important. Upperclassmen get to apply the skills they have obtained to problems that do not have clear answers. We struggle to solve real problems that face people in these communities and get a glimpse of what practicing real engineering is like.
I also love that the trips expose me to another culture and to people who love God just as much as I do. Another unique thing about our trips is that we do not really do any direct evangelism. That is because the people we are working with already know and love God. We get to worship and pray with believers from another culture and hear their testimony about how God is working in their lives. Nothing is more beautiful than a Guatemalan prayer where every member of the community is praying out loud all at once. Even though I cannot understand the words I can feel God’s presence during those times.
Third, I love that the trips bring freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior engineering students together when we would not otherwise get to know each other. The engineering program is linearly structured so that each class is a prerequisite for the next class. The result of this structure is that we take almost all of our classes with the same students and we do not get to know the students who are more advanced or just starting. The mission trips bring the different classes together to work on these projects. Nothing can bring people together quite like six months of design work followed by a ten day mission trip. I have really enjoyed getting to know professors and fellow students on my two trips.
Finally, I love being able to see how God uses everyone involved in the trip to show his glory and love to the communities. Everyone works together to get these projects completed on time. That includes the local Guatemalan people who work for our non-profit partner and also the people from the different communities where the projects are being carried out. We could not finish these projects without help from the local people. They usually carry all of our equipment up and down the treacherous Guatemalan mountains to the remote locations that we are going to work. When everything is completed God gets all the credit. We always say that without Him, none of these projects would have been possible. As it says in James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”