Featured Story

blog image

Stranded in South America

October 09, 202311 min read

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” - William Faulkner, Writer

Not actually stranded, but soon to be.. My funds have dwindled pretty low so I’m calling for some support from my brothers & sisters! Anything helps & your prayers for this period’s provision is requested!

Unfortunately looking like I’m going to have to cancel my plans to Columbia for a friends wedding.. But there’s still hope from any support that can allow me to continue on this amazing journey I’ve been apart of that’s truly been a dream come true! Regardless this experience has been the most transformative for me yet with still so much more time to go. Thank you always for your love & support always! 🙏🏼

Support Tony's Mission Trip

The Initial Shock Faze

These past few weeks have probably been the most transformative in my life. Something about being gone a month now and the honeymoon faze that almost deludes the your reality starts to set in. Then the culture shock starts to hit and you begin to realize how much we really don’t know. I’ve been extremely blessed to realize how much this experience will forever change how not only I look at myself, but the entire world around me. I appreciate during the orientation a lot of these things were explained and for a good reason. You simply just hear what they say but to go through it experientially is a completely different thing. But the blessing that thousands of others have been through this experience to help give some guidance on what you can encounter.

I believe that we as a species have been set to forever be curious that’s of course how we got to where we are today. But our society’s have sheltered us to a lot of the truths that still exist beyond our everyday lives. We are all humans, living a similar but vastly different lives. All seeking similar things for our constant survival & desires. Yet my faith has further showed me that if you live in the spirit you understand that satisfaction will never come from this temporal world, only through Christ Jesus.

I’m extremely happy to have made this decision to study abroad in a place where I feel so lost yet realizing I can only be found though Him. I’m expanding beyond where I’ve ever been able to stretch & these revelations the spirit allows me to realize will stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m ecstatic that I’ve been chosen to be in the position I am to bring back a perspective to so many who will lose themselves through a similar process. Yet only come to realize you’ll never find yourself in whatever identity you’ve constructed or those around you that have cultivated on how they see you that you begin to believe. Only through the Lord may you truly come to the realizations beyond our comprehension. When His spirit truly lives in you then you will come to know.

There’s something about pressure that pushes you beyond what your current self can see you being able to do. That’s why the famous saying

“Pressure is what makes diamonds”

I know it might be cliche but we value to spend so much on the finished product, yet don’t realize the grueling process it had to go through, better yet grow through. Our lives must go through this process to grow. A mentor once told me the formula for growth which is:

Growth = your comfort zone + distance

Sounds simple when you hear it, yet experiencing it is a bit of a different process. However it’s absolutely the most necessary to truly know what it means to go beyond your comfort zone, and that of course guarantees that things won’t be comfortable anymore! But that’s the whole point, to show us how the process of growth is going to be one of the biggest reasons we feel alive. I mean besides finding yourself in Christ of course, but what’s right next to that? Renewing your mind & becoming Christ like, now if you ask me that’s not gonna be a comfortable process. So God has called us not only to accept His ransom for our souls to be made right with him, but to also experience an enormous amount of pressure so we can become all He mad us to be. Now that might deter people away if they realize the process it takes to become one of His children, yet it’s the most necessary. The fact we have been given another day to live means truly He wants us to grow with Him & He still has a plan and purpose for our live here. To be used by him as His handy-work so we may show the world God’s hand is at play never solely our own.

I must admit it is very frustrating to not be able to understand everything going on around me. From the language, to the culture, to the people. It does make you start to second guess your decision. Why is it so difficult to understand everything? Perhaps because we’re made to not know all, that’s solely God’s job. But our flesh does desire to know everything. It takes time to learn & grow yet we want it all now. Yet the desire to grow needs to be greater than the frustration. & I have a tremendous desire more everyday. Yes I’m learning more but there’s still such a disconnect I wish wasn’t there. Maybe I should of studied more before coming, or prepared my self better.. So many what if’s but here I am, lost in a foreign country trying to find my way. At times it’s a fun beautiful experience, other times it’s a wonder if I’ll become what God had called for me to be after it’s all over.

I’ve realized here that we do tend to revert back to our old ways when experiencing discomfort. It’s like our old self fights back twice as hard so we stay in what we already know. But the other part of you understands it’ll only make everything that much more difficult to not grow beyond what you believe you're capable of. Or perhaps this is just some more 3am thoughts that I’m expressing. Whatever it is I know that I’ll forever remember this experience for the rest of my life & it’s still got so much more to go. That’s the scary part, yet the desire to go beyond must always be greater so you can truly embrace all this once in a lifetime opportunity has to offer.

But this feeling isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. The more time I’m here the more flashbacks I have of my time in Mexico. A little boy stripped away from his family into the complete unknown with strangers. Now that sounds a lot worse than it actually was when I spent a summer with family there, but in my mind that’s truly how it was. No translator, no help, just me & my mind that was forced to adapt. But that’s one of the things that makes us above all other animals, our ability to adapt to our environment. Yet the older you get the less you’re willing to dissolve essentially the world around you to be cast into the middle of the ocean & forced to sink or swim. Again the process of growth isn’t pretty nor what we honestly want to sign up for. Can’t it just all come without the struggle? Well unfortunately no, God has order & we’ve been set to sweat from our brow until we return back to the dust we are. So embrace the suck is what I say, or you’ll only make it that much harder on yourself.

Tony interacting with the wildlife in Easter Island

Easter Island was such a dream!

My recent trip to Isla de Pascua (Easter Island), actually called Rapa Nui by the locals, was truly a dream come true! Except for the injury occurred during the trip everything was absolutely amazing. From the people, to the food, and of course the environment was something out of a movie. A land almost untouched, being one of the most remote places you can go in the world! It was definitely the best place I've ever visited no videos, pictures, or story's can do it justice on just how amazing of an experience it is truly once in a life time. Definitely catch my video linked below for some of the amazing captures I had during my short yet valuable time there.

Although once I got back to reality another tough few days I had. From being injured & having an ER visit for my stupidity, watching most of my funds I had dwindling away, or to realizing how far away I am from where I truly want to be. I’m not sure if my brain is just simply responding to previous trama I experienced as a child while this long away from home in a foreign country or why I tend to have such a hard time learning or feeling as inspired as I was when I initially embarked on this journey. We tend to distract ourselves with things that get in our way of growth that we don’t sit with the harsh realities we’re currently facing. Many responsibilities piling up & having really no desire to do anything but shut everyone & everything out tends to be my coping mechanism. Yet it’s my realization of it that is allowing me to gain more power over my go to response which is unhealthy.

Avoidance is a powerful drug we tend to indulge in, it feels much better to do so I’m sure we can all somewhat agree. But it’s in those moments when you come face to face with your problems & have nowhere to look or run. I’m just blessed beyond my imagination to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior! That’s really the only thing that can & will remove these things for we can do nothing without God. I’ve really began to embrace my dependence on the Lord knowing when I try to take control things usually end up bad. But of course as a man it’s been instilled into us to be the providers & strength through sheer willpower. But that’s a slippery slope I’ve experienced personally and wound up creating more destruction then anything. But it’s honestly much more relieving to know I have a constant companion that wants to help in each waking moment, my only job is to let go & let God work through me as an instrument of His handy-work!

What a month this has been is really all I can say. An entire years worth of experiences wrapped all up into one. It almost doesn’t feel real. A little over a month away from home and many things are starting to become clear. More revelations then I’ve been able to capture. Yet it’s been a process of un-peeling an onion with many layers. I’ve sought to simply be present within those moments of true learning & growth. From whats been ingrained into me from my society, family, friends, even my culture of an American that I sometimes hate to admit. Such as my impatience, arrogance, ignorance, stubbornness, simply to wrap it up my overall awareness of self, others, & environments. It’s funny how some of these revelations come, usually from being around others but a few from myself. Nobody likes to admit their shortcomings, yet I’ve almost fully embraced it so I can truly become who I’m seeking to be. Christ really does forever own me and I’m beyond blessed to have such a loving & forgiving savor to allow me to run off the beaten path so that I may find out what it means to be His. I can’t say that most of these idealizations have come in moments I’m fully 100% acting as a follower that He’s called above & beyond the world. In fact it’s quite the opposite, yet in those moments of grace I can only look to Jesus. It’s a transformative process to unlearn & relearn, yet it’s been a beautiful one I’m glad to constantly embark on with full conviction. Last thing I would say is it being an easy process everyday, but if it were then everyone would do it right? I guess that’s also what it means when they say many are called but few are chosen. Chosen for this walk, to completely become a new creation. One I hope to not recognize from where I began, yet grow familiar with all I’ve been called to be.

-Tony Benton

To See Some of the Moments I Captured Click Here

Prayer Requests:

Your continued support & prayers are always appreciated thank you!

  • Continual provisions of God's work through serving here & in my life

  • Health & healing from my injury

  • More organic opportunities to share my testimony & the gospel with others

  • Breakthroughs for financial support to remove any doubt of being able to survive while here

  • To witness more sinner's salvation in accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior

Missionary WorkInternational Exchange Program
blog author image

Tony B.

Back to Blog

powered by: Pinnacles © 2023