Are mission trips really the “Ultimate Benefaction?”
I’m feeling quite nostalgic today, whether that’s because of my Time Hop App, #TBT, or that some old friends that are coming to visit. I’m not sure why, but I started reminiscing about different adventures I have been on in life. One of them was a mission trip! About 5 years ago, I went on my first and only medical mission trip to Nicaragua. It was amazing, inspiring, humbling, transforming, ignorance shedding, etc. I learned so many things, not only about poverty in 3rd world countries, but the heart that goes into missionaries, medical teams, and different cultural communities.
The basic ability to connect with any human being is truly brought to light when hindered by different languages and cultures.
When I was there I kept a journal of all my experiences. If anyone plans to do mission work, I strongly suggest documenting your journey. I became involved because my mom has been actively involved in mission trips over the past 6 years, primarily providing aid in Haiti. She loved it so much my dad and her were strongly considering adoption of an orphaned newborn girl my mom had taken care of. She carried her picture around for weeks. It didn’t work out because the girl ended up being adopted by another head mission’s worker. I was a little bummed, but now that I’m older I’m slightly grateful. I enjoy being the youngest child and to be honest babysitting is not my forte. Anyways, over recent years mission work has become a growing form of stewardship and service. I have multiple relatives and friends who have done this type of work and I often hear of people adding it to their “Bucket List.” I think everyone should get involved and do it at least once in his or her life! After going on one, it would irritate me hearing people preach about mission trips. The reason it bothered me is because most people would promote it to promote their own image. Essentially, to brag about the “good deed” they had done. Others would want to do it out of trend implying their motives were not coming from the right place of heart. I recently had a revelation because I now understand that no matter the motives one truly does become transformed. I never realized how much first world countries take for granted. The basic necessities of water, shelter, food, and clothing seem like a God given right. The truth is there are people who live at a garbage dump, wedged between a cemetery and where bodily waste is disposed of. They dig for food through the piles of trash that are disposed there. There truly are children dreaming of going to school. There really are women raped, impregnated, and left to die in the streets. The list goes on. One thing many veteran missionary partakers talk about is the culture shock, not necessarily going there, but coming back. When I came back, I almost despised my friends, the grocery stores, the constant need to keep up with the “Joneses”, etc. All around I was annoyed with the “American Way.” It is hard readjusting to this lifestyle once you are truly made aware of the struggles of the world. After getting readjusted to my life, I began to see the empathy and compassion this exposure has taught me. You do not need to travel the world to help those in need or be considered a martyr.
As Mother Teresa has said,
“Never worry about numbers. Start with one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
This is probably one of my most favorite statements of all time. You do not need to travel to a 3rd world country to give stewardship. In reality the whole world is starving. Nicaragua may be deprived of basic life necessities, but I have never met such compassionate, genuinely happy people in my life. America may have the basic necessities of life and more, but I have experienced some of the most bitter, broken, and empty people. There are people suffering everywhere you go, so find the one that speaks the most to your heart. I do recommend getting involved in mission work. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I hope do more when I am older. You will learn transforming life lessons and values, but if that is not an option for you there are people who need your time and talent wherever you are.
Everyone has a niche or a gift. For example, my brothers gift is music. He can pick up literally any instrument and master it. My mom has the gift of generosity. She gives without expecting anything in return. I have a friend who has the gift of healing emotionally. The list goes on. Everyone has a gift and it can be used anywhere at anytime! My point is share your gift because that is the ultimate offering of service!
What many think to be the unparalleled contribution does have a parallel, just give from the heart whenever you can!