October 30, 2013
Having done missions work for more years than I ever thought or dreamed of, one pet peeve of mine is the language we share once we’re home, the pictures we share, and the stories or lack thereof that are told upon our return.
I think processing a mission trip takes a lot of time, it is in no way an overnight discovery of this is everything God taught me and this is what’s next. I think an annoyance for me is the language we use about missions. “It changed my life!” But your lifestyle or language does not reflect that you have been changed for more than the week or month you’ve been home. Have you really been changed? Myself included it is so easy to go back to normal life in the states and to very quickly go back to our lifestyles of spending money, wasting our time, involving ourselves in bad company, or forgetting the things that God taught to us and revealed to us.
Do I rely on God as much in the states as I do in the mission field? The things I once found appreciation in, do I still value them? I know for me, when I return home after 10 weeks in Haiti… I value running water and working power so much more. Do I remember to value those these or conserve them in memory of my friends who have little? I know that I will watch the money I spend, but how long does that last for? How often do we convene with God once home? My hope is that as I have spent almost every morning learning more and more about God, in bible study and prayer with our staff that it has created not a habit, but a deeper relationship with God and wanting to spend every morning learning from Him. As much time as I want to spend catching up with friends once home, I hope and pray I spend just as much time catching up with God and processing with Him.
I hope that we challenge ourselves to live differently, not just because we’ve been on a mission trip, but because God calls us to live differently, to be uncomfortable. I am sure He did not mean only when you’re in the mission field.
Another annoyance of mine is the pictures that we share about our experiences. As a photographer in the mission field, it is my job to take photos. Photos are supposed to tell a story. There is the saying that they are worth a thousand words; however I now believe that to be false. Do we know the stories of those in the pictures that we take?
This is going to sound mean and harsh, but I honestly sit back and wait for people who return from the mission field after a short-term and I almost take bets with myself of who will post the first photo or change their profile of all the great things they did in the field. Who will be first to post that photo of them holding a precious and cute African, Haitian, Peruvian, or any baby for that matter?
Do we know their stories though? I recall this summer a team of people who came down to work in Haiti. I was already working with some children as I had built relationships with them over previous visits, what was the first thing they did? They greeted a cute child, picked them up and took a selfie. Have you done it? I am sure I have. I feel bad for posting such photos now unless I know and can share the story. Can you tell their story? Or do we take photos of children whose name we don’t know, just to boast of “look at the work I’m doing in this country”. Look at me and this cute baby!?