I am back to the blog after a three week hiatus. I hope you’re still here!
Thank you so much for being nice to my guest bloggers. I really appreciated them.
So, I’m back home after a week of sweating in Mexico. What happened over those few days? A lot of work, and a lot of sweating among communities of poor okra farmers. I played and prayed with a lot of children who accepted the gospel. I played soccer like a total gringo and got schooled by eight-year-olds. And I did a lot of grunt work. And while our silly matching T-shirts didn’t spontaneously catch fire as Jamie the VWM had wished for, a lot of things did…and did not happen.
Keep reading to find out just what I learned under the searing Mexico sun.
Getting My Money’s Worth
Although I didn’t know what I’d be doing, I was resolved to do what was asked of me as hard as I could. I wasn’t going to save the world in a mere week, and I tried to not have plans that were too grand about how I was going to bless the crap out of everyone.
But by the third day of mixing concrete, digging ditches, and playing “burro” with the children (which is remarkably similar to “horsey” in America), I was tempted to be disappointed. Were these jobs really big and important enough for me to be doing? Was I getting my money’s worth? (These questions are paramount to Americans with too much time and money.)
But I remembered that Jesus said that even giving someone a cup of water in his name is ministry. Now, giving someone a cup of water is really no big deal. It doesn’t seem important, really. Wouldn’t it be easier for someone else to give out the water? The fact is, Jesus praised people who did small, seemingly unimportant things for others in his name. There is no such thing as “getting your money’s worth” with Jesus. There’s no job “too small” for a Christian to do. That’s just our big fat egos talking.
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses…
I highlighted here that I didn’t really pray…at all before signing up. I know myself well enough (and just how good my prayer life is), that the more time I spent “praying,” the more time I’d have to come up with an excuse to stay home.
It would be really freaking hot. The work would be hard. I’m really busy already. I don’t know if I’ll be safe. It costs a lot of money. Someone else can do it. I don’t have the skills for this.
Then I met the group of sixteen strangers who I’d spend the week with. People who had paid much higher personal cost to come than I. Two mothers with children with them, one pregnant with her fifth child. There were four people over age fifty. One was even deaf. I found myself one day mixing concrete with the senior member of our group, a 71 year old woman with a steel rod in her spine…
I felt pathetic. I felt ashamed of the ridiculous excuses that were in my heart.
As it turns out, Mexico was no hotter than my hometown. We were never remotely in danger. Our host family took good care of us, and none of my other excuses panned out either.
A Drop in the Bucket
Short term missions are just that…really short.
We didn’t change the world. We were there long enough to lend a helping hand, give the gospel to some kids, and go home. It’s easy to debate if such a short trip is even fruitful, if that’s what you like to do.
I hope it was fruitful. But I do know this. One week doesn’t make me a “missionary,” or an expert. It doesn’t give me something to check off my list. It doesn’t give me the right to judge “selfish” Christians who don’t go on mission trips, nor does it make me any more righteous than them. Heck, going on a piddly one week mission trip and then coming back feeling super holy probably makes you less righteous than if you had just stayed home.
This is what I know for certain. A week is a drop in the bucket of my life. And if I don’t come home and live a little more justly and walk a little more humbly, then the whole week probably was a complete waste.
All right, tell us all about something small, something unimportant you’ve done for Jesus (without getting too braggy!) Did you dig a ditch? Hug a kid? Offer a cup of water?