Monday, July 23, 2012

The Value Of A Hard Week

This mission trip for me was a little unlike many before. Let’s compare it to last year, it was a split site, which means everyone gets a chance to both build/do repair work for two days and they spend two days working with children at the one kids club. We also had great staff and got along really well with the other churches. Since we all built something, we could all point to something and say “we did that”, a sense of accomplishment. If I told a story about a child at kids club, every single other person on the team knew who I was talking about, we all shared the same experiences. Friday night was really uplifting and happy as we shared stories about this great trip.

Three days ago our Friday night was a little different. People still had some great stories, but our mission trip was much different. Many students did not connect with the YouthWorks staff, one of the other churches caused problems, we were at one worksite all week (and some sites were not a fan of YouthWorks) and generally when we were there we were split up. For example, I was put in a class of older children at a summer school/summer camp program. I did not see anyone else from our mission trip for six hours a day. Our students had a really hard time, there was not the sense of accomplishment from last year, either you didn’t make a good relationship with the people you worked with and felt unfulfilled or you did make a good relationship but by the time that happened it was time to go home. All in all, our students were really having a hard time.

So Friday night I asked who thought this was a hard trip. Almost every single hand was in the air. For the reasons above, people were not as happy as they were last year. But it really opened the door to talk about it. From talking with a few students their natural reaction was to still say the trip was okay and leave it at that, instead we chose to be honest about it and talk about how hard it was. Because in reality, the hard trip was much more similar to what it is like to really be a missionary, hard to make relationships, some people didn’t want us there, that unsettling feeling of, “What am I doing here? I’m not accomplishing anything.” And when these students go back to high school or off to college and they view their school as a mission field, they are more likely to have an experience like this year’s mission trip.

The important part is realizing that just because you don’t see fruit doesn’t mean you’re not accomplishing something. If I were to go to a farm in the spring and work for four days then leave upset because I didn’t get to harvest my dinner, the farmer would laugh at me. Real growth takes time. But just because you don’t see the harvest does not mean the watering or the fertilizing was not helping. Just because we don’t see the final product does not mean our work was in vain, and that’s the stance we have to take with this trip and in the mission fields of our lives. Sometimes the harvest takes a little longer, it doesn’t mean you give up or that God doesn’t value your service to Him, it mean we have to work a little longer and a little harder. Unfortunately we don’t get to go back to Minnesota to do that, we hand that off to this weeks youth groups, but we can do it in our lives here. And I think that is the most valuable lesson this mission trip can teach us, to continue to run the race as Paul writes, to keep on doing what we know is right.

Thank you all for your prayers and support last week and be praying for Liz and The FIRE Students as they serve in Kentucky this week (she has a blog on the Fire & Water page too).


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