Friday, March 26, 2010

The challenges of re-entry from a missions trip

I wonder what you think about returning from a missions trip out of the USA.  What things need to be processed?  What things need to be captured?  How can we communicate what is captured for the praise of God AND for the edification of the Body of Christ? 

Please read my post and offer your comments here.


Chris said...
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Chris said...

When reentering from a missions trip, it's important to remember that your friends and family did not go on the trip with you. You will see things differently and feel thing more acutely. But, it's not fair to expect others to immediately resonate with your emotions. You can become hyper judgmental if you're not careful. However, if you're too careful you might quench the true feelings and convictions that are growing within you.

I've always found it helpful to find as many quiet times to sit, read Scripture and pray after a missions trip. It's also very helpful schedule a missions team party or picnic type thing 2 or 3 weeks after the trip in order to share feelings and experiences and to support and legitimize one another.

As westerners, we are tempted to go straight to feelings of frustration about our materialism. Years ago my wife and I noticed that materialism is not absent from third world countries. Basically their lust for stuff is as real as ours. The frustrations we have are actually in a failure to recognize our blessing as a divine opportunity to be a blessing to others. This in sight has helped in how I specifically process many feelings.

Once when my wife was 15 she took a trip to Barbados. The week she returned she came home to find that her parents had decided to put new carpeting in her room and just needed her input on the color. She exploded with "How can you spend $500 on carpet when there are people in the world without basic health needs and limited food...!" She had a point, but at the same time she failed to understand her parents heart, their reasons, and the fact that they had not experiences what she had.

I'm in danger of rambling. So basically, be brave enough to allow God to continue to break your heart for the multiple and complex needs of the world. At the same time, be sensitive enough to love and accept people where they are rather than where you think they should be, including yourself.

NOTE: This was written totally off the top of my head and is subject to correction, confusion and clarification.

Pastor Daron said...

@Chris thanks for the post. This will help me in my debrief with present and future missionaries, both short term and long term.
Your insights are emotive and helpful for the "shock" of re-entry.

Stephanie Fish said...

I would ditto a lot of what Chris said. After our CAR trip, I came back to an almost newly remodeled Wal-Mart. Aside from the normal frustration of items being moved, it was a shock to see the new wood floor -In Wal-Mart!?
I think our leaders did a good job of preparing me for this before we even went on the trip. We also discussed prior to coming back. In some ways I had more of an "overload moment" one day while in CAR after visiting the pygmy village.
I had to remind myself many times, many places (and to this day) that God had me born in USA for a reason. If I am so blessed so I can bless others in some way, then that is great. May God have the glory!
Since my husband just returned from his fourth missions trip, I think it may get a bit easier after the first. However, I think down time, reconnection, and time to share is important. It is hard to have to plunge back into all the "routines" right away. Most give up vacation time to go and don't have the luxury of additional "down time" upon "re-entry". Three of the families were at Sat Easter service and we took the opportunity to go for dinner afterward. It was spur of the moment. We had a great time. They shared stories and laughed at things the wives didn't get, and they continued to bond. I think this is an important part, especially to the new ones.