Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Five: Mission Trips

Karla has posted about mission trips:

I am in mission trip mode right now, as I get ready to take a group of youth to DC to do service work around hunger and homelessness issues.   So, in that spirit, our FF is Mission Style!  So here are your questions:

1) Have you ever been on a mission trip, as a participant or adult chaperone? What was it like? 
I was a missionary for about two years.  But before I went on long term mission, I went on some short-term missions to Mexico.

2) What is the worst thing that happened to you/your group on a mission trip (or retreat, or camp, or Habitat for Humanity experience, or something like that--hey, this is YOUR Friday Five, so you get to play it how you would like.)
I broke my hip.  We were in the boonies of the Sierras and I was 10 days without treatment (thank God it was a green stick fracture) before I could catch the bus into Mexico City and fly home to Texas and major surgery.  It ended my missionary career, but I still have a missionary heart.

3) If money were no object, where would you want to go to help and serve?  What would you do?  I am no longer able to do heavy duty work.  Sleeping on floors or doing physical work is beyond me now.  If I were physically able, I would love to go back to Central America.  I have worked in Honduras some years ago or perhaps Costa Rica.  But I have a BIG problem with our Missionary societies and their theologies.  (Don't get me started!)

4) What would be your advice to someone who will be sleeping in a gym with 20 other people for a week?   Find a place where you can be alone or quiet everyday if it nowhere else but the bathroom or in the shower.  If you  are a part of the planning, plan this quiet time for all of the participants.  It will keep the introverts among you sane and the extroverts  to process what is happening in their lives.  If you are supervising kids, take turns with the other supervisors.  When I was working in Mississippi following Katrina, having evening prayers before dinner in which we brought what we had seen that day to God was one of the more powerful spiritual experiences we had.  

5) Any parting thoughts, stories, or questions you have around the whole theme of Mission Trips?  The jobs that you are doing is less important than the people you are going to serve.  Try to connect with the people in the neighborhood.  And you are not there to 'change' them.  They must do that themselves.  But if you connect with them, be genuine and help the kids be genuine with the kids they are connecting with.  It is not part of my tradition or nature to evangelize while on such trips.  The willingness to be there with them will say tons more that if we are just 'peddling Jesus'.  We aren't peddling a culture either.  Trying to make others like us is NOT the place of missionaries.  But that you may find the Christ in them and they find the Christ in you is the most important thing.

Mission work changed my life.  It made me much more aware of the 'thingyness' of my life and helped me realize how much a part of the world I am.  I am convinced that middle-class Americans SHOULD have a missionary experience sometime in their life.  It is the only way that we can really even begin to understand the reality of the rest of the world.

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