But if you say no?


guatemala prayer visit

I didn’t have to say yes to Guatemala. God would have loved me just the same.

But I said no last year.
This year I wanted to try something different. (Thanks for wrecking my world, Alene!)

So with my yes, God walks me Thursday into the alleys of the Guatemala City garbage dump community, dodging swarming flies and mud puddles and dog refuse (now I understand why Angela said wear closed-toe shoes). The landfill here is one of the largest and most toxic in Central America.

God sits me down in a home where children take care of children because daddy is dead and mama is off washing used water bottles pulled from the dump. On their best days, the thousands who dig through this mountain of trash all day, every day, recover something useful for themselves or to recycle for income, a piece of cardboard or metal or plastic.

  • Does it stink? Yes.
  • Does it make me cry? Yes.
  • Does it get me messy? Yes.

But seeing with my own eyes, touching with my own hands, praying with my own words (well, words translated graciously through Laura of Potter’s House), stamps a determined hope on my heart.

team in home Guatemala

On Friday, my yes goes to VBS in a small dirty space with messy kids and runny noses. As our beautiful young ladies tell the story in Spanish of Jesus calming the storm (and let the kids practice saying “storm!” in English), a long-haired girl quietly pulls in closer and tighter where we sit on the ground until her body presses into my side. I slip my arm around her and she places her face on my hand so I’ll touch her cheek.

I could say no.
But I still feel the holiness of the yes.
One child in one moment with one me.

coloring at VBS Guatemala

Guatemala selfies VBS

princess VBS guatemala

The Saturday morning walk to the grandpas’ home (our “nursery home” equivalent, oh how we love Luis) is a yes for the aged.

  • Yes—for us playing Uno, saying numbers and colors in Spanish, with a dear man who never quite gets the rules but has great fun anyway (and he wins! with a little help)
  • Yes—for my friends washing the residents’ clothes by hand and hanging them out on the roof to dry
  • Yes—for our ladies painting grandmas’ fingernails and handing out socks and candies and prayers

A no would have been acceptable.
But these yeses are inspired.

Uno Guatemala

Would the 300 bags of staples for needy families still have been packed if I I had been there? The party for the Treasures pulled off as seamlessly? The cafeteria lunch been served as joyfully? Of course.

party for Treasures

cafeteria Treasures Guatemala

boy coloring VBS guatemala

God didn’t need me to accomplish any of these things. With or without me, the good goes on.

But he asked me. He allowed me. He used me.

And I’ll never be the same.

All because of a yes.

* * *

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me and my teammates before and during this trip. Know that God heard your prayers and answered with a yes. I treasure you!

And a big shout-out to Angela Aston at Adventures in Missions for being the most Spirit-led (and organized!) hostess ever. I’ve never met anyone like you. I’m still in awe.

Group pic Guatemala


What is God calling you to say yes to in your week? I’d love to hear in the comments.

34 thoughts on “But if you say no?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know you say yes to so many things, Sheila. It’s nice when we can see God so quickly and strongly in some of our yeses! I feel incredibly blessed by my time in Guatemala.

  1. Linda@Creekside

    ‘the holiness of the yes.’

    you have said it all with these 5 words. please know that I am praying for you, Lisa. i’ve just written your name down on my trusty pad of paper next to my computer. i will not forget.

    hugs … hugs.

  2. Positively Alene

    Oh my goodness — it’s the holiness of a yes and a bucket of tears that go along with that! You my friend are a treasure. I’m so thankful God brought us together in person to serve and love others. I’m realizing Guatemala doesn’t need me, I need Guatemala.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly. That’s what I’m learning more and more too about serving others–I need them more than they need me. God is awesome like that.

      I’m forever grateful for your encouragement prior to the trip, during it, and afterwards. God ordained. You’re awesome! I hope to continue learning from you for a long time to come.

      And I’m so thankful to know for sure you are indeed a real person so I can hush the doubters. haha.

  3. Cooking Up Faith

    You write in a way that makes it feel so real. Too many of us say no because of doubt, fear, and pride…when what a joy we could find in saying yes. I desire to go on a mission trip one day and your post and story have encouraged me even more. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post and pictures. 🙂
    Cooking Up Faith

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks so much. I hear you; I’ve said no far more times in my life than yes, unfortunately. And even now in many of my yeses, I still pack up fear to travel with me. But at least God is getting me to go even with it. It’s becoming less and less baggage the older I get. I’m sure you’d do awesome on a mission trip! Go for it when you get a chance.

  4. Dianna

    Oh my, Lisa. As I read through tears I am reminded of the “yes” times that I’ve said “no” to and your words spilled out here for all to read make me want to say “yes” the next opportunity He sends my way. You are literally showing Jesus all over your face, my friend. His love shines through the eyes, the smile, the tilt of the head. Love you, my dear sweet friend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re so precious to me, Dianna. Thank you for your endless supply of encouragement. Meeting Alene in person just encouraged me more that there are so many blogging friends I’d love to sit down with. You’re definitely one of those! If not here, in heaven for sure! Love you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes! Knowing that he asks us to participate–even though we’re not needed–is such a special honor and it makes me want to do it all the more because of that. Thanks, Alecia!

  5. Kelly Chripczuk

    So glad you went. Central America has always had a special place in my heart since I went to El Salvador in high school. Our yeses are the brave footsteps that take us out into the open water, the wide. exciting places of God’s grace and glory. So glad you went.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You went to El Salvador? That’s what hooked me on Central America. I went for a week for 2 summers and fell in love with the precious people there. And now the people in Guatemala equally have my heart. They are so precious. Thanks for the encouragement you have given me, Kelly!

  6. Jen Ferguson

    I love the grace inherent in this post – God loves us even when we don’t seize the opportunities He gives to us. But when we say ‘yes’ – oh, how He commits to not leaving us unchanged. And for that, my friend, I am grateful right alongside you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t his grace the best? I’ve said no far more times in my life than yes, and I’m sure I’ll continue to lean that way. But how wonderful that he loves me anyway. But during those yes times–wow. Yes, such blessings. So glad for the times you say yes in sharing things with us, Jen! You’re awesome.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Beverley. And sometimes a yes can actually look like a no! We have to listen to what Father is speaking to us. Yes doesn’t always mean activity; sometimes it means foregoing activity just to be still and know that he is God. Whichever way that looks, I want to be grateful and obedient in this season.

  7. Barbara H.

    What a wonderful trip, in so many ways and on so many levels. I love the thought, too, that God loves us just the same when we say no, but oh the adventures He has for us when we say yes!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oddly enough, it’s sometimes easier for me to give in to the yes when I know he would still be okay with me even if I said no. 🙂 But yes, we’d miss out on so many adventures if we always said no! Thanks, Barbara.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      But I’m really not brave. I honestly still cringe when anyone says I am. I just try to show up more often; that’s all. Granted, that may be brave for me. 🙂 Yes, the people I served and those I served with in Guatemala were huge blessings to me! Thanks, Mary.

  8. Ashley Davis

    I love this post, Lisa, and it was a very timely post. Recently, 5 other people and I returned from a trip to the Philippines. Lord willing, another lady and I will be returning to live there for hopefully for 6 months, come home and fund raise a bit more, and then return for another 6 months or longer. And all of this started by saying yes. I like what you said here
    “God didn’t need me to accomplish any of these things. With or without me, the good goes on.
    But he asked me. He allowed me. He used me.
    And I’ll never be the same.
    All because of a yes.”
    God doesn’t need us to go to the Philippines, but He is allowing us to go, and He has allowed us to see how we can be useful there to help spread the Gospel. I love that about Him, and I love how He uses everyday broken people for the kingdom. Thanks again for sharing your trip with us! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s so awesome to hear, Ashley. Live in the Philippines for 6 months or more? You are very brave! I’d love to hear more about it. I have a few friends here who have hearts for the Philippines as well.

      Yes, it’s amazing how the Lord can take us in all our weaknesses, and allow us to partner with him in loving people in such different places around the world. He is very gracious. I’ll be praying all goes smoothly with your fundraising and your trips!

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