Are you ready? These tips will completely change your mission trip ... before it starts! Seriously. You may already be asking yourself, "I'd like to explore the world and help people, but what will I learn from a mission trip?" I am about to tell you TWO THINGS about mission trips that will change the way you view the world forever.
So, before you 'go into orbit' about the possibility of a short-term mission trip this Spring Break or summer, let’s take a look in the spirit of any good Walt Disney children’s documentary, at the earth ... from, erm, well from orbit. ;-)
“Whoa…. Wait a second!” you may say. “Something’s not right about this view. Is that….is that Africa on top?”
I am making this 'show' up, of course, but the facts are very true. You can almost hear Uncle Walt’s Voiceover Narration: That’s right, friend. That’s Africa. Then Jiminy Cricket pops over and poses, “So, from space the world is hanging upside down?”
Walt: Well, no. (chuckles) Our world is hanging without an “up” or a “down.” You see, Jiminy, because the first cartographers were European and American, they naturally drew themselves on the top.
“And we’re not really on top?” Jiminy asks.
Walt: No, we’re not. The world spins slowly, you know. Sometimes you are “down under.”
That one perspective of the world can change in a moment, can't it? And that is what will more than likely happen to YOU, especially if it is your first mission trip.
#1. The way you look at the world WILL change!
Yes, there are outlooks that may so for you as you embark on this journey. Your own world view doesn’t mean you will eventually see the earth from outer space, but it means you will more than likely take a step back and learn something that will surprise you, maybe even shake your foundation.
God ... he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.
Psalm 121:7-8, The Message
Your worldview is something you already have. It is a set of presumptions, views, and occurrences that squeals on your influences and, among other things, your attitude.
This can be a good thing!
But it can also be a bad thing.
Some new perspectives might be simple. For example, Central Americans don’t fancy the same personal space North Americans do. This might become awkward. And then some may make our eyes pop out of our head: Its okay for women to breastfeed in church in this African village? Men may hold hands as simply friends?
A preconceived idea that was generated by YOUR CULTURE could rock your world view. It is going to be up to you on how it affects your mission trip. So ...
#2. Don’t be scared of your world view change.
Think of this awesome change as an adventure. Seeing things from a whole new angle can really be a blessing.
I took one girl to Honduras who had issues with cleanliness. Not her cleanliness, mind you, but everyone else. She really had a hard time with being touched on the hand. She knew not from whence this particular phobia came, but it was how she was nonetheless. She would not hold hands in prayer, with a boyfriend, or shake hands. It drove her mad to think of it. Only her best friends knew this about her and shared it with me before the trip. They were afraid the Latin American touchy-feely issue would freak her out. Long story short, it didn’t. Well, not on the outside (and that’s what mattered).
By the end of the week she let two little girls drag her by both hands down the dirt road to the river, giggling all the way. I won’t say she didn’t have a grimace on her face, but I will tell you what she said afterwards: “It was worth every germ.” (Perhaps even the germs she was spreading to them!)
I encourage you to be prepared for these world view changes and you will give yourself a big head start in planning your mission trip like a pro. There are many "must-haves" when you go on a mission trip and there will definitely be important things to do, but ... the ultimate must-have on your packing list is your flexibility.
This adaptability to see and accept or work with the differences in a new culture is a life lesson to learn on any mission trip and it speaks volumes about who you are in Christ. If you are visiting somewhere that is "upside down" (in view OR location) it is crucial to remember that important changes will happen in our hearts and theirs if our thought process about that world is, well, right-side up!
P.S. IF you get a chance ... you will NOT regret watching this video...having lived in another country and also a short-term missionary, I agree with every. single. word. this guy shares.