After the Mission Trip

September 8, 2014

Living in Ocean View allows us to be here before the missionaries come and long after they leave.

I do understand that I too am a missionary, but as the days, months, and years go on, Ocean View has become home to us and we consider ourselves a part of the community.  By God’s grace others do too!

A few months ago a missions team came to work with us and took over the church and its grounds for two weeks transforming everything they could get their hands on.  They did big projects, connected with our people, played with the kids and even ate in the homes of some of our church members.  It was a life-changing experience for the missionaries and impacted many of our church members.

But now it’s months later and we are still here in Ocean View with no one to rally the community with projects and outreaches.

So what does it look like AFTER THE MISSION TRIP?

Sometimes, unfortunately it doesn’t look good.  One thing that hurts my heart is when I see people I know here in Ocean View, mostly children, act a certain way around the missionaries who come to visit and then act another way after they have left.  One day while the missionaries were here, a boy who I know really well was walking through the church grounds (and didn’t notice me).  However he obviously saw the missionaries and had been hanging out with them for days.  He was trying to seem as if he was just casually and normally walking through the church grounds but he was LOUDLY singing a Christian worship song.  Suddenly as he came close to me I said hello to him and he met my eyes and laughed.  I have honestly never heard this boy sing a worship song in my life and I don’t think it was an accident that he was singing it in front of the missionaries.  Sometimes those we go to serve play roles towards us as we play roles towards them.  This hurts me because Jesus wants us JUST AS WE ARE.  We come to Him just as we are, broken and messed up, and we need those we serve with and alongside to meet us as their true selves.

Sometimes after the mission trip something changes for the better and it makes an impact far beyond the beginning project.  The church that visited us helped to start a garden and greenhouse and planted many of the plants while we were still in the cold winter months.  When they left they greenhouse was up but other than that all that sat there was a big square of dirt.

Here is what I love.  The American mission group didn’t leave a finished project tied in a bow, they left an undone project that needed nurturing, care and teamwork.  This is PERFECT.  This unfinished and baby garden has needed a LOT of work over the past months and there are no short-cuts in gardening.  Over the past months the women and men of this church have spent hours nurturing and watering the garden and now it is OVERFLOWING with greenery and life.

 This garden is growing and flourishing and beginning to provide for our community.

It is a beautiful thing.

PLANTING is a beautiful thing and GROWTH is a beautiful thing.

To me, this is a beautiful metaphor for what it should look like AFTER THE MISSION TRIP.

A mission team needs to know that they aren’t there to save the day or change the world.  We have one savior and it is JESUS.  But a mission team can PLANT SEEDS that can only grow and flourish after the team is long gone.  The missionaries were blessed and provided all that was needed to start this garden… and then they left.  Now those in the community have had to COME TOGETHER to make something beautiful grow.  These projects will only be fully brought to completion when those in our community work TOGETHER.  This is so good.

I am very proud of what it looks like at Ocean View Methodist AFTER the mission trip.