Friday, January 29, 2016

Three Reasons You Should Absolutely Not Go on a Mission Trip

You will become too tolerant 
I used to be annoyed when I heard people speaking languages other than English in public. I was a bandwagon member of the "This is America, speak English!" club. Everyone else was mad about pressing one for English, so I figured I should be too. Then I traveled to a country where I was the one who didn't speak the language, and no one was mad at me about it. It was confusing and frustrating, but everyone was patient with me as I tried to learn as much of the language as I could (which turned out to be about three words!). Now when I hear people speaking other languages, I think it's actually kind of fascinating. I have to admire people who are living in a country that is foreign to them, and respect them for their efforts to adjust to a language and culture they don't understand yet. What kind of American have I become, spewing all of this tolerance all over the place? Spanish, in my America? Si!

 You will make too many friends
There's something about travel that can really bond people. If you can survive airports, language barriers and lack of sleep with anyone for ten days and not be completely fed up with them, then there's a good chance you've got the potential for a lasting friendship. If you travel with a group, you run the risk of forming multiple friendships. Each of these friendships comes with various inside jokes about funny things that will inevitably happen on your trip, and you'll still be laughing about them years later (I would give you specific examples but then I might get in trouble with some of my mission trip friends!). Having all of those friends is going to be so time consuming, they're always going to want to talk to you and ask how you're doing, and maybe even reminisce on the trip you shared. You're a busy person, do you really have time for that? Then, there's all of the super emotional things you will experience together, like having to take very sick babies to a not so great hospital, and having to say goodbye to all the people you met on the last day of your trip. Are you really ready for all of those emotions, and all of that genuine friendship? Sometimes, these emotions will hit you at really inconvenient times, like when you're about to get out of the car and go into a public place, and suddenly your mission team "theme song" comes on the radio. You probably didn't allow time in your schedule for 10 to 15 minutes of crying, but that's what's about to happen. Do you really want to deal with that?

You will want to do it again.
I Google mission trip opportunities the way some people Google exotic island getaways. I've unsuccessfully attempted two more mission trips since 2013, and although I'm trying to accept that it's not up to my timing, the thought of going on another is never far from my mind. I learned so much about myself in Honduras, but more importantly than that, I was humbled by the realization that orphans in an impoverished community are in no way inferior to me.  They are people with hopes, fears, ideas, and dreams. Many of them are extremely intelligent and articulate, and I have no doubt that they will one day overcome their circumstances and change the world. The one thing that truly separates me from the beautiful children I met in Honduras, and all of the other people living in poverty and turmoil around the world is not distance, but privilege. I was born in a first world country to stable and functional  parents who have always been able and willing to provide for me. I've always had a home, a family, and an education. I've never gone hungry, and when my parents leave the house to go somewhere, I never worry that they will choose not to come home. So many people all over the world are not fortunate enough to have these things, and it saddens me that I cannot change that completely. But the one universal truth that defies circumstance and privilege is faith, and that is something I can share without limit. Because I have a certain amount of privilege, there are many opportunities to share my faith with those who do not have it, and I feel like that is what I need to do, with as many people as possible in as many places as possible. Indeed, I am sometimes even bold enough to say it is what I am called to do.

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