The first time I ever met another blogger it was Valerie. I love Valerie. The reason I love her is because, even though we are both Bloggers that mainly talk about Jesus, my first question to her was: So... Can you teach me how to cuss in Spanish? So! Now thanks to Valerie, I can praise Jesus in Spanish and also cuss out
that evil bitch that takes my parking place without her knowing the devil in Spanish. See how I put a nice Christianese reasoning behind that request? Awesomness.
This is the first time anyone has ever guest posted on my blog. Needless to say, I'm so stoked that it's Valerie. It was supposed to go out yesterday morning, but yesterday morning in true Righteous Babe style I went to the doctor and found out I had a broken bone in my foot and subsequently panicked all day. Completely forgot. Shoot me in the face with a rubber band.
But! I sat down and re-read Valerie's guest post for me, and it calmed my little butt right on down. After all, I do live in Ohio now and I do NOT want to be known as "That Ohio Person." You don't get the reference now but you will. Read on my friends and be amazed by Valerie's great writing. Such a treat.
A while back, I recall One Righteous Babe and I sitting in a booth at this weird restaurant in Clinton, MS. Then, a couple weeks later, we sat in a booth at a Mexican Restaurant in the same town. In both of those lunches, we sat there and talked for hours!
Most of the time, we talked about missions.
In the summer of 2010, I spent a summer in Guatemala at an orphanage. As an idiot teenager that spoke no Spanish, I thought I could go to a foreign country and teach music. Over the course of time though, as I slept at the orphanage in the "missionary housing," I learned one very important thing: Week-long mission trips done by churches.... most of the time... are totally ridiculous.
In that one summer,
I saw more Vacation Bible Schools, more walls painted and repainted, and saw that dramatic representation of Lifehouse's "Everything" (youtube it) more times than I care to remember. One group, however, will stand out to me above all. I had been in Guatemala all of 5 days. It was May 22nd when I landed in Guatemala, by myself, knowing no one but the Chavo (who I was not dating at that time). This group of people from Ohio that I met were polite, helpful, and so happy at their little prayer-meetings at 8:00 pm in the dining area. That Ohio group was so delightful and so sad to leave the little orphanage that Friday.
But on May 27, that Thursday, the Pacaya volcano about 19 miles from the city, erupted and spewed volcanic ash and sand and crap all over the city. Schools were closed, people tried to clean up, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, and the airport was totally out of commission. The next day, I got away from the orphanage and Tropical Storm Agatha washed a lot of the ash and sand down into the drainage ditches, causing massive clogging and flooding. Chavo and I were stranded outside the city for a night, so we had to call one of the real missionaries down there for somewhere to stay and wait out the storm.
On Sunday night, I was astounded to see the Ohio group still there. They were beside themselves with grief. The airport was still closed and so backed up that it looked like they were not going to get back to the states any time soon. I heard sobbing through all hours of the night. It sounded like people were dying. They were devastated.
The only people more devastated though, was the staff of the orphanage. In the time that I was gone, the Ohio group had decided that since they had been there for 3 weeks at that point, that they knew everything about the orphanage and how to run it. They had successfully alienated the entire staff of the organization that they came to serve, and now they were causing serious damage. Dinnertime became a nightmare of women sobbing over cold showers and men near-cursing that they weren't able to go back to work. Their 8 pm prayer meetings turned from happy sunshine to lamentations of pure agony.
The kids were afraid of them. The women were no longer gentle and the men were no longer jolly. We generally avoided them like the plague. I grabbed my dinner quickly and retreated into the only place I could: my office. I thanked dear sweet Jesus for that office every chance I got. It locked, it had internet, it had a view of the driveway (in case I needed to make a quick escape when Chavo came by), and I had the only key. To keep people from bothering me, which they did often, I turned the lights out to the office and brought in pillows and blankets so I could move around without making noise.
When they left, the children were relieved. So were the staff. The Ohio group will never return to that orphanage. I think both the group as well as the orphanage are more-than-ok with that. I swore that I would never do another short-term mission trip as long as I lived. It wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth ever being associated with a group that could turn so ugly once their plans changed.
Breaking news everyone: God doesn't give a crap about your plans, however well-intentioned and shiny they are. If all it takes is a 7-day extension to see your crazy, maybe you shouldn't be going on a mission trip at all. Because I guarantee you that you got more out of this mission trip than anyone you served.
God called us to go and make disciples of all nations, not to go and act a fool for anyone that looks cute for your facebook profile pic. Why go? Why go to a place of moderate-to-low comfort on your own time if you couldn't handle it?
Because this group single-handedly made this orphanage very leery about trusting anyone in their missionary housing.
The only thing that made it better was the Rainbows of Hope group that came the very next day and stayed for two months. Those guys rocked.
In a few days, my church and I will be going back to the country I fell in love with. And I'm about to take a big ol' dose of hypocrisy. I swore that after the summer of 2010, I would never ever go on another short-term mission trip as long as I lived. But I lied. I tend to do that when I'm talking out of my butt.
But the Ohio group did teach me something, it taught me to be very prayerful and active in planning a short-term mission trip. I pray very hard that the group I am going with has the strength and the patience to deal with any changes in plans that God has for us, that we know better than to flip the frick out whenever things go wrong. I pray that we will never become like the Ohio group, that we will never alienate a ministry like that group did.
And if you're going on a short-term mission trip, please be mindful of what you are doing. If you are going to do simple tasks that an impoverished person in the community could be PAID to do, don't do it. Boost their economy. Pay real money to have someone in that community do it, if that ministry can't. Do something really meaningful and helpful. If you're not sure what that is, go google it or talk to a real life missionary about it.
Don't put on your Chacos and khaki shorts unless you really know what you're doing. Yeah, sure, you'll only be there a couple of weeks, but why waste that experience? Go with the intention of partnering with the ministries already there. And be helpful, for crying out loud. It's not about just going, God didn't just say "Go". There's a lot more to it than that. And so help me, if the words "I can't wait to put this on facebook" ever pass your lips, you need to seriously evaluate your life choices.
Because this isn't about facebook. This isn't about deep things to tweet. And this isn't about you.
It's about Jesus.