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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Arizona Indian Reservation Mission Trip

5 tips to keep your light bright after a Mission trip
Our mission team's feet (to properly protect the identities of our travel worn friends, lol)

At Least Once in a Life Time

      My husband, 15 year old daughter and I just got back from a short term mission trip in Arizona. If you haven't been a mission trip in which you were immersed in the culture of less fortunate people then you should go at least once. It is an eye-opening, change your whole world view, growth experience. The longer you can stay and the more immersed you can be the better. Walking in the shoes and getting to know an oppressed or disadvantaged people makes you so much more humble and  appreciative of all we have in life.  It destroys the stereotypes and pre-judgments that separate us.
     Surprisingly the hard part of going on these short term missions is to keep the fires of passionate service burning when you come home. You can spend nearly a year planning, fundraising, recruiting, talking it up to everyone you know till you finally get there to spend an amazing week or two serving and learning everyday. I really believe that helping each other is an intrical part of our human make up, so when we set aside the time to do it we are filled up by it.  Therefor, it makes since that we may experience some withdrawals when we return home to our seemingly self centered and secular lives after.  We may even become irritated and disenchanted by the "spoiled" whines of the cluelessly blessed society around us. 

So how can we fan the fires of service and fill the void when we return from a Mission?

1. Process the Experience.

Continue journaling or Start Now if you didn't journal during the trip (I'll admit I fell asleep on mine a few nights). If you had any kind of culture shock learning your new culture, you will likely have reverse culture shock coming home. With your newly opened eyes you will see things about the privileged world that you simply accepted before.Process those emotions between you and God so that you can respond with Grace when you are confronted with actions or attitudes that offend your new world views. 

2. Plan your Responses.

As 1 Peter 3:15 says, Be prepared to give an answer for the reason for your hope, Also be prepared to answer those who ask about your trip. This is part of your witness and people are often interested but don't know what to ask. Be prepared to describe the culture both their strengths and struggles, how you physically helped them and what they taught you.  If it flows with the conversation relate a spiritual victory that happen there. Close with how you see or want to do things differently now that you have had that experience. Most importantly keep it simple, personal, and meaningful to you and it will more likely mean something to others. If this want to know more you can set a time to meet and talk.

 It is always good for the team or representatives of the team to set up a time to present  the church as well. This is not a time for the team to "toot their own horns" as some may see it but a time to encourage the congregation that the whole church's efforts have a far reaching impact. Read  Acts 14:27 for the example. If it was good enough for the first churches it is good for us too. 

3. Thank your Supporters.

The thing about missions is it takes the whole church. Those who have the time seldom have the money and those with the money rarely have the time. God blessed us each with different gifts, teachers, encouragers, planners, and some have the gift of money management. Money is not the root of all evil as we may tend to think when we walk with the oppressed. The Bible says it is the LOVE of money that causes evil. Those who give money, encouragement, networking, and prayers are giving of their gifts just as much as the teachers and missionaries. So wholeheartedly thank them however you can. 

4. Stay Connected. 

While you were serving hopefully you made some relationships and connections with some of your teammates, your mission hosts, and those you were serving. STAY CONNECTED with them. Make a coffee date or hiking trip with the teammates you especially bonded with. Only they can truly relate to your experience. Write those you leave behind, be it e-mail, snail-mail or Facebook. Sign up for the mission's news letter for updates. Only they can give you continued insights to the needs and answered prayers of the place you left part of you heart in. 

5. Finally, Make it count at Home.

Earth shapers make a difference where ever they are. In big ways but most mostly in small everyday ways. Join a local group that serves an area you particularly love on you trip. My husband's passion was teaching the kids but also growing food to foster independence. So he started a kids gardening club on some unused land at our church. All the extra food goes to the local food bank. The leader of our group has long been a key player in a feeding and pray outreach to the homeless in our town called the Starfish ministry. I chose to write this blog in addition to other things. 

Most of all, let it change how you interact with people everyday. Poverty is a hidden illness that people every community face. It has many symptoms but you never really know the full extent of the struggles some people deal with everyday. And while the poor may always be with us, we can help the symptoms hurt less and remind them that they are of value too, by us and their maker. 

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