This is Courtney, again. That’s all.
I grew up in a church denomination that baptized. No, I don’t want to get into a debate about it. I grew up in a denomination whose mentality about baptism was to simply get you baptized and then pat themselves on the back that one less person in their church was “unsaved.” There was never any post baptism talk. Nobody talked about what you were supposed to do now that you had been dunked. It was more of a let’s get you baptized and then leave you standing there dripping wet to sort out the details of your now saved lifestyle.
This is how I sometimes feel about mission trips as well.
Saying “yes” to a global call to action is trending right now. I think it’s a fantastic trend. I’m all for sending people out to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I’m all for doing the Bible, if you will, but then what? Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like you’ve been sent out, had this crazy experience and are now left standing in your hometown airport to sort it all out with no direction.
So, you’ve had this life-changing, perspective shifting experience; what are you supposed to do with it? What do you do now? How do you let it change your life? How do you use it to impact others? How do you stay connected with where you went? How do you use it to impact your current city?
Over the last couple of months, Dustin and I have been really intentional about seeking out the answers to these questions. We went to Africa knowing that we wanted it to change our lives. We have been purposely sitting in this awkward post Africa tension so that we could let Africa continue to change us.
Here’s what we have to say about it…
1. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to feel sad about not being wherever you went. It’s okay to feel excited about being home. It’s okay to want to stand in a hot shower and flush the toilet just because you can. It’s okay to feel upset at yourself for feeling excited about hot showers and toilets. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at all that you saw and experienced. It’s okay to feel confused at what you’re supposed to do with it all. It’s okay to feel mad at the injustices of the world. It’s okay to be heartsick for a place that you have fallen in love with. It’s okay to feel like you might burst into tears and yell at people all the time. It’s okay.
2. Share your stories. Talk, journal, blog, do all three, do something else; just find a way to share your stories. This has been an important step in helping us continue to process Uganda. Share your excitement and passion but also share the hard stuff too. Know that some people are going to genuinely care about your trip and others are just asking because they are supposed to. Know that the people who genuinely care about your trip are most likely not going to “get it.” It can feel discouraging but don’t let that stop you from sharing. Stories are powerful. Don’t be afraid to let your stories be used.
3. Stay connected with where you went, financially and relationally. Most organizations have a way to stay connected financially. Whether that looks like supporting the actual organization in the states, supporting the missionaries, or giving directly to the place you went; find a way to give. You don’t have to be rich to give money. Finding a way to stay connected relationally should be quite easy with social media. Facebook, email, twitter, blogs; stay connected somehow.
4. Get involved locally. Last week I talked about how Mother Teresa told people to find their own Calcutta. Do it. Find a way to continue to serve the least of these in your own city. You don’t have to be in a third world country to find poverty, people who are hungry, outcasts, diseased ridden, homeless, widowed, or orphaned. The least of these are everywhere, if only you have the eyes to see it.
These four things have helped us. What has helped you in answering the post mission trip question “What am I supposed to do now?”