I have wanted to write this blog post for awhile. And by no means whatsoever am I a expert, or do I half of the time know what in the world I am talking about. It is so true, that the older you get...... the more you know.... you don't know a whole lot. These are just my thoughts. And as I started to mull this around in the ole noggin tonight, it was during the end of the day routines. Checking homework, brushing teeth, getting dinner cleaned up and put away, pajama's, one more drink of water, one more hug, one more kiss goodnight. I kept randomly jotting a few things down on a piece of paper. And this is what was mulling around in my head.
So you came on a short term missions trip, and are ready to plunge in, and move to that country. Here are a few things I would like to share, for what its worth. . . .
- Seek council, but listen to God above anyone else. And be willing to hear "no" and "wait" from God. We all have known that girl. She is so in love with that one guy. Even though so many people see these negative aspects, perhaps drinking, controlling, whatever. Seeing a train wreck in the distance, so many have tried to warn her. But she is so in love, that nothing, no one says, can take those rose colored glasses off her eyes. She wants what she wants, and she is set on it. I think people do the same thing in so many other aspects of life. And yes, it can even be missions. You are so set, so convinced, and you want it to happen as fast as possible. Nothing no one says, can alter your perspective....... perhaps not even God. Seek council from people, and from God, and be willing to hear the "no" or "not yet."
- Never base what it will be like, from a short term trip. The honeymoon phase will wear off. What used to excite you, on a short term trip, or even for the first few months, will wane and wear off. Like that time you went to the market and thought it so exciting to see people negotiating prices. It no longer is so thrilling, after a long day, and you just want to stinking get a new flashlight because the power has gone off for the millionth time. The last thing you want to do, is have to negotiate the prices. You just want your flashlight! The things that were exciting, will not always remain exciting. It is not as glamorous as it seems. Would you recommend anyone to move to your hometown, based on a few weeks there? Probably not, or at least I hope not. You know that person didn't get the real view of the place and life there. Internationally, take that then times 100. Whatever you think it will be like, it won't. Your passion has got to be from and for God. Otherwise once the newness goes, you might be as well. And honestly, what good will that have done?
- All heart can equal making a big mess. You of course cannot go into it heartless. But when you go and you do based solely on emotion...... well, that can equal a big mess. I have seen people say things to the kids in the orphanage that make me cringe. I know they are saying it solely based on the emotion in the moment. But that can lead to a mess of a orphan, with yet another broken promise, yet another thing to reinforce that adults are not to be trusted, and so forth. The same, moving based solely on emotion, or living somewhere solely based on emotion. Creates a huge problem. You will say things and make decisions that lack discernment, council, and wisdom. "All you need is love", but love is not always a squishy, rose colored, walking on clouds kind of thing. Love is a choice, love endures, love makes hard decisions, and has the hard conversations. Never go into something all heart, and no reality.
- Talk to people, Get some real idea's. I cannot recommend more highly the book Expectations And Burnout: Women Surviving The Great Commission. It gives some real honest look at missions. Talk to people who have lived internationally. Talk to missionaries. Get some real legit perspective. It doesn't need or have to be all negative, it never is, anywhere. But also get a honest good hard look at it.
- Whatever you bring, will be magnified. Living internationally can hold a real HD mirror up to your face. The things you struggle with, are not going to be left back in the US. I have heard it again and again, and lived it even more. That it feels like everything here is just intensified. Whatever it is you struggle with, will still be a struggle. It just might look a little different, but it will be right there, staring you in the face still.
- Do it the right way. Talk to your pastor, your Elders, and for heavens sake, talk to the missions org you went on the short term trip with. They do know a thing or two, and be willing to listen. More than likely they will be thrilled to see your heart, and have some appropriate steps and advice to give. If you can get training, jump on that, like you would jump on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I know, I know, when you go on ones of these short term trips, people will pat you on the back the entire way, tell you what a amazing work you are doing, the gratitude you see in the country you visit. And those pats on the back, are deserving. It is scary as daylights to hop on a plane, go to another country you don't know, with a bunch of people, and submerge yourself in it. I think short term teams are awesome, when they are done right. You my friend, have stepped out of your comfort zone, leaned hard into God, and dove in. But let me say once again, do not let your value rest on that.