“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Friday, April 13, 2012

RevGal Friday FIve: Missionary Trip edition

Karla, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

I am in mission trip mode right now, as I get ready to take a group of youth to DC to do service work around hunger and homelessness issues. So, in that spirit, our FF is Mission Style! So here are your questions:

1) Have you ever been on a mission trip, as a participant or adult chaperon? What was it like?
No, never. I grew up in a church that placed a significant emphasis on missionary work in order to proselytize and convert others...which left me with a conflicted sense of missionary work. But I do think that trips that enable people to learn about others, trips that are more about the formation and learning of the missionaries, are well worth while. 
2) What is the worst thing that happened to you/your group on a mission trip (or retreat, or camp, or Habitat for Humanity experience, or something like that--hey, this is YOUR Friday Five, so you get to play it how you would like.)

I use to go to a special place for silent retreats, back when I lived in another state. It was an old place, very simple, but profoundly spiritual. On one retreat I was sitting on the floor, preparing to do some yoga. All of a sudden a ginormous spider charged me! I dropped my computer (which held the yoga dvd) right on top of the spider, smashing it....

poor wolf spider - never knew what hit it...but for the rest of the retreat I was on the look out for spiders...and, thankfully the computer was ok...

3) If money were no object, where would you want to go to help and serve? What would you do? Honestly, there is plenty of need and work to be done right here in my region...no need to go far. I realize that people all over the world need assistance. And, I realize that we learn so much about the world, humanity, and our selves, when we interface with other people and cultures. But sometimes I think we give people the impression that we are going to HELP them because they can't help themselves. First of all, I struggle with the concept of "helping others" in that it runs the risk of arrogance. Truth is, those helping are often the most profoundly impacted through a deeper self awareness. And, then there is the bias that those who need help are people in poor countries, places in Africa or South America, etc. And while that can be true, it is also true that many of the problems people are facing in the developing countries are the result of how we live - the food we grow and export, the way our lifestyle has impacted the environment, the way we marginalize indigenous cultures as if our culture is better. On the other hand, some of what we have to offer (mosquito nets, medicine) is most useful! In other words, it's about learning to share and grow from one another. And, frankly, there is plenty of need right here in my "backyard" - poverty, hunger, gender violence, abuse, unemployment...

SO - I think it's great that you are taking a relatively local mission trip and that all of you will learn a great deal about yourselves and those you are working with.

In terms of any place in the world I'd like to go and learn: communities around the Inca ruins, communities around the Egyptian pyramids, communities around the ancient Celts and Iona, communities near the Arctic....

4) What would be your advice to someone who will be sleeping in a gym with 20 other people for a week? Sound reducing headphones - with some soothing music, for the time when you simply need a break. A good mat for under your sleeping bag, or a support mat if you are on a cot. And, a secret stash of tea and dark chocolate - or a ton of it to share.

5) Any parting thoughts, stories, or questions you have around the whole theme of Mission Trips?  Oh...I think I've said enough....sigh. Have a really good time, I hope your group learns and grows a lot. I suspect it will be life transforming for each of you. At least that is always the hope!