Last week at church the worship team sang “Oceans” by Hillsong–one of my favorite tunes.

Yesterday, the worship team sang “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters.

In each time of worship, I was brought back to a different place. My heart was drawn from the stress of a busy week to the calming lullaby of God’s love. My mind was drawn from the singers on stage to the moment I stood hand-in-hand with my missions team in Guatemala.

And as a result, I was overcome by the realization that the experiences we have in this life do not fade away; instead, they come back time and time again to make us smile, to remind us of our purpose, and to help us feel God’s love.

I went to Guatemala in March 2014, and soon enough it will have been two years since my experience. I still remember specific moments as if it happened yesterday though.

For example: the tumbling down a volcano, the precious children, the incredible food, the hostel we stayed in, the “Jesus Lives” painted on a car window.

I also remember the dirt in my hair, the smell of garbage on my clothes, the financial need in the zone we worked in. I remember that although I had sore cheeks from smiling so often, I also had nights where I fell asleep to tears.

The trip brought me to a new world, one I never would have seen, and one I will still never fully understand. I remember questioning God’s reasoning of my situation: why was I able to attend college when some of the kids I met hardly had enough food?

Yet, when I think of Guatemala, I still smile, remember my purpose, and feel God’s love.

When experiences come back to us, they are not all full of roses and picture-perfect laughter. Instead, some remind us of pain and hurt. I know this.

Despite the feelings we had at the time, we are still reminded to smile, to know our purpose, and to feel God’s love.

We smile because God was with us. We know our purpose because He created us. We feel His love because He somehow got us to this next season of life. 

There are still so many things that remind me of Guatemala: long layovers, particular worship songs, hikes, heat, and my boyfriend’s baseball cap that I have kept ever since.

There are so many things that remind me of other events too.

And when I encounter these memories, do you know what I do?

I smile.
I remember my purpose.
I feel God’s love.