Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What 'Really' Happens on a Mission Trip

There are many, many benefits of going on a mission trip.
Some obvious, some subtle.

Some of the reasons why you go create feelings of accomplishment and the pleasure of knowing you've done good.

Sometimes the feelings are unpleasant and downright uncomfortable and yet you embrace them because you believe in the work you're doing. You believe the uncomfortabl-ity is a price you're willing to pay.
I mean a mission trip isn't a vacation.
You don't go to relax.

I've just returned from a mission trip. I, and a small team, traveled by van for 5 days to Kojetin, Czech Republic and Cachtice, Slovakia. Armed with markers, balls, books and blocks we were on a mission to educate Roma(ni) Gypsy parents in these communities. Tucked into my Thirty-One backpack were 4 seminars neatly typed out and organized with an introduction, body and proper conclusion.

It was so neatly organized and it was going to be so helpful
and it turns out it was so, so ... Western. (note to self, remember that lesson you learned about expectations and remaining flexible?)

Going there was what I wanted to do. Making a difference and being a part of something larger than myself is what I aimed to do.

However, missing my family, my life, my bed, my food, my friends, soft toilet paper ....
all of those are really sorta the aspects of mission work that I hate.

But every time I go, and I have made a point to go annually for 7 years, a shift happens in me while I'm gone.
A deeper level of appreciation.
That life that I complain about because its too busy and hectic?
Is precious.

My children who demand so much from me that I often wonder if I'm losing myself in them?
Are a gift.

That bed I complained about because its old?
It's more than just fine. It's luxury.

My job?
A privilege.

To be savored.

A gift.

Going away and going without - to any degree -opens your eyes to the fact that what you already have
and what you've already experienced
is a wonderful, wonderful gift.
Being away from my family
and my little life
and the comforts I call home
make my family, my little life and my home a TREASURE.
An absolute treasure.

Going on a mission trip sorta makes the scales you didn't even know you had fall from your eyes.
You get a fresh view of what you have.

And what I have - friends, family ... love - is a treasure.

Back on my home turf I am not just reminded to be thankful for what I've been given in this life,
I am instead completely overwhelmed as the feelings of appreciation and gratitude roll in crashing waves over my soul.

It is the Eve of Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I will sit -like every other American- around my turkey, gravy and table of bounty and reflect. This year, as I adjust to this time zone, I find that I am especially, deeply and profoundly grateful. Because THAT is what happens when you take a mission trip.

Consider finding a mission. A way to give. Be brave and travel. And help. And open yourself to the world and the people in it. For a mission trip is a wonderful opportunity to learn levels of gratitude you've never fathomed existed.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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