One of the interesting things about Mission Trips is that the work you’re doing can be a complete mystery until you show up.
I mean,you always have an IDEA of what’s going on. Last year I attended a trip where we did a lot of physical labor outside, building wheelchair ramps or yard work or fixing barn doors. (In this case, the showers were located directly next to where we were staying. Sweet, sweet showers. Given the amount of sweat, there really wasn’t another option.)
This time it was a lot more… abstract. On the one hand we spent some time working at food pantries, ensuring that everything was stocked. I spent some delightful time with a rather nice man who was volunteering who was a pretty big Star Trek Fan. Of course, while he was a nice man (and I would never insult someone’s efforts to just do something nice) he did spend a little extra time telling me all about how he felt that Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry’s ACTUAL vision of the future. And he was not a fan of our President. Not one bit. (That was a longer day than usual.)
On the other, we did spend some time just helping out at a thrift store. While it was a “Christian” thrift store, I didn’t really see the difference between that and a regular thrift store. Maybe it was just me. But one thing I did learn is if you carry a bunch of clothes around a thrift store, people will just assume you work there, no matter how you’re dressed. (I was dressed in a plain T-Shirt and jeans. I’m like a cartoon character in that I only have a few outfits.) Admittedly,I didn’t get as much out of that experience. I don’t think the kids did,either. I think it was around the time they said, “We didn’t get as much out of that experience.” But you know kids; it’s difficult to figure out what they were saying.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to just go out and do good for a little bit. The important thing is to carry that back, and instill that feeling of doing good onto the kids. Was I successful? I don’t know. I’d like to think so. The difficult thing about real life is that the music rarely swells while everyone is doing an action that clearly shows they learned something from you. I mean,it can from time to time, but then I’m just told to shut off the speakers on my boombox, sit back down, and no matter how much I want to be I’m not actually John Cusack. (I could totally be, but Joan Cusack refuses to show up as random characters in my daily life.)
At the end of the day, you have to do your best.