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The Worst Mission Trip Ever

I lay awake that Friday night knowing an international flight was waiting for me in the morning. A whirlwind of uncertainty tore my sleep to pieces. Did I pack everything? How will I find Pastor Juan at the airport? Will the ministry be enough? What if someone needs to go to the hospital? So many things slipped the grasp of control. This could be the worst mission trip ever.

I landed in the Dominican Republic Saturday afternoon to lead a spring break youth trip. The humidity hit me as soon as I stepped off the plane and I could smell the tropical coastline.


I ran my mind over all I could do. Then all I could not do tumbled down on top of me.

My phone didn’t work. I couldn’t find my ride. Then I lost Ed at the airport, only after he lost his bags. I couldn’t understand enough Spanish to make sense of things. I didn’t have control over the food, or transportation, or lodging. I had no control over how much the team would like their ministry or how God would work in their lives. I tried to hold it all on my small little shoulders.

The tighter I held on, the more slipped through my fingers. I stood defeated on the rooftop of our apartment overlooking the busy streets of Santo Domingo realizing that I did not have the strength for any of this. Until I heard the Lord whisper, “Do not doubt the strength within you. Just be here. I will do the rest.”

How could I forget this was God’s mission trip, not mine? This would be the worst mission trip ever if I was in control. I can’t control a mission trip, how long I will live, or if my car will start in the morning. I can’t even control how many waffle fries I eat at Chic-fil-A.

There things I could not do, things I was never designed to have responsibility for, things I could never fix in a million years. Why was it so hard to give it to the God that heals nations, people, and broken lives? Give it to the God who can control the weather, the one who controls life and defeated death? Whenever God is given the space, He will show up.

It isn’t a one-time decision. It is a daily choice, sometimes hourly or minute by minute. I don’t just get to let go and then everything is fine. It is the realization that everything was fine to begin with.


Juan is a pastor in his community and has a heart for the children living in poverty around the church. There are children as young as 3 or 4 who would visit us daily because their parents were not around to care for them. Juan’s dream is to open an English school so that the children can have a chance to get a good job when they grow older and break free from a cycle of poverty.

He had been praying for a team to come and finish the floor, the last phase before the school could open, and had contacted us last winter about needing a team at the end of March. There was a team of high schoolers on a spring break trip whose location had fallen through…twice. They agreed to go to the Dominican Republic to help Juan build his floor. Thousands of concrete was mixed in the sweltering heat. The team was amazing.

I never heard a complaint. They finished the floor in two days and gave testimonies, sermons, and worship services around the community. They stepped up to do every single thing that was asked of them with determination. They loved the people, especially the kids, with abandoned joy. The Lord moved and intertwined his care into every single day.


  Juan, his wife Alba and their children took us in as family. We laughed so many times and I felt like I had known them forever.

God did so many things that were beyond my power. The team was an answer to prayer. God had this planned out and in place long before I got there.

This is why I have fallen in love with mission trips and the countries where every convenience is not at your fingertips. It forces utter dependence on God. His strength is revealed. Pastor Juan constantly reminded us to ask Jesus. Just ask Jesus. It seems simple enough.

Simple, not easy, but I can never deny the results of what God can do when I am looking at Him instead of me. I will chose to give Him my life daily, maybe hundreds of times if that is what it takes. Trusting Him is always worth giving up my own plans even when it is the hardest thing to do. 




  1. My dear boo bear. I’m so proud of you, how you live, lead…and love others. So…so grateful to have you in my life!

  2. A) You are so beautiful in that picture with the guitar!
    B) I am so proud of you!!
    C) I enjoyed this blog immensely!!!

  3. Awesome! I love it! God shows up time after time! I love your blog! It makes me want to go lead a trip tomorrow!

  4. I feel much joy in my heart when you read this, I know God every day teaches us something new but we can never forget is that God is in control of all …… all the time with the team here was an adventurous and missions time, showing love to everyone !!
    Thanks for coming Caitlin Roberson and be with us in our home …. you’re part of my family ….. Alba, Kamil and Adrian and I miss you!
    Remember you have a family in Santo Domingo !! my house is your house!
    God bless you !! and use you to bless many people around the world !!

    Pastor: Juan!

  5. Thank you Juan! I am hoping to be able to come back soon! Thank you for making the trip so amazing!

  6. So good to hear what is going on in your life. Your honest expression of the process is inspiring. To God be the glory!

  7. There’s my Caitlin! Letting go, and letting God! Well written and well said! Love you! ~Aunt Cindy

  8. We love you Caitlin and enjoy hearing about your ministry and how relying on
    God’s guidance makes service to God so rewarding.

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