Some people never find it even in several spouses and divorces later, career changes, and wavering faith. Some pretend and convince themselves that they have found it, but they know differently in the quiet and darkness of a sleepless night.
And, honestly, I don't think we are ever completely fulfilled, but that's how God meant it to be, otherwise our lives would be stagnant.
God gave me certain skills that I can utilize to any extent that I please. I am a nurse and with that, I have found medical missions to be the cherry on top.
But was amazed me the most, is that ANYONE can add value and touch the lives of many people no matter what skills they possess. Sometimes, just looking into someones eyes can bring them comfort and self-assurance that they are worth the time.
I often wonder who I would be, or even more so, who I WOULDN'T be if I never listened to that voice in my head telling me to take a chance,
I almost dread telling people that I am headed on another mission trip with my family across the world. It's almost as though I have to assure the other person that they are not a horrible for not doing the same and, in some ways, almost feel apologetic that I have been "given" this opportunity to help others.
Actually, my daughters have had friends tell them how lucky they are to be able to go on such a wonderful trip. Don't get me wrong, my daughters are lucky—but, luck is not what enables us to participate in these trips.
We simply choose, as a family, to make the commitment, save the funds, and devote the time to go.
In all honesty, we should not be commended for going on these mission trips. If you have never been on a mission trip, you may not totally understand this concept; however, it is true. Selfishly, my heart NEEDs these trips. My children's hearts NEED these trips. And, most of all, my husband's heart NEEDs these trips (just a little humor!).
I want to clear the air of some things that I know people are wondering when it comes to my family and our crazy decision to subject ourselves to several vaccinations, sit on plane rides in-between a woman who speaks no English and thinks you make a great pillow and an Australian muscle man that sweats profusely and assumes half of my seat is for his use, and exist in living conditions that are not like, should I say, our usual living conditions.
- No. We are not better "Christians" or human beings than you are (no such thing anyway). We don't deserve a medal or your accolades. Actually, at times I think that we are in such need of a good slap of reality in the face and a cleansing of our own priorities and goals that going on these trips are the only way that God can get through to us. So, really, that may imply that YOU are the better person!
- No. We didn't grow up in families that devoted all of their extra time to soup kitchens while donating all of their birthday presents to the poor. I was the youngest of three and, yes I admit, the most spoiled of all of us. In fact, I grew up quite privileged but with an understanding of human equality and respect. For that I am so grateful.
- No. We don't look forward to going on the trip. It's not a vacation! We don't pack a swimsuit and anticipate a time of relaxation and lounging. In fact, the few days leading up to the departure, my husband and I almost can't talk about it because if one of us suggests that we don't go, it's very likely that the other will agree. I am in continual freak out mode that one of us is going to get sick while we are there or something major is going to happen back home that I won't be around for. My husband is full speed bad mood mode as he worries about being prepared, leaving his business behind, and trying to tie up loose ends.
- No. We don't think we are better than you and our goal is not to assist you in putting another check mark on your things I should have done but didn't do list. We do like to talk about our trips simply because they have changed our lives, and we can't help but talk about it. If the fact that we like to talk about it makes you feel any less of a person or bored, then let's not plan on getting together for dinner.
As I review the points above, I realize that I may come off as negative and borderline annoying. You may be thinking, "If you hate going so much, then why do you go?"
Well, to completely explain that would be too difficult in one blog post. But let me tell you, I go because I now have a family across the world that I love and can't live without. To put it in perspective, if one or more of your family members moved across the world and the only way you would ever be able to physically touch them, look into their eyes, and show them the love that you have for them would be to expose yourself to inconvenient and uncomfortable conditions, would you go?
Now that we have that cleared up, I want you to reflect and evaluate your beliefs about your world, your responsibility in this world, and the barriers that you encounter in order to fulfill these responsibilities.
To help you do this, I have listed some of the most notable excuses that people have used to explain why they have not gone or are not ready to go on a mission trip. And to clarify, a mission trip can be in your own town or neighborhood. Mission trips are not about traveling all over the world, they are about putting someone else on the pedestal and acknowledging that you may have some skills or ability to help them in their place of need and then just doing it.
I have listed below a few of the excuses most famous to date. So, if you have found yourself using any of these excuses, I challenge you to really think about why you are avoiding a life changing experience for yourself and for those you could touch.
In no way is this to point fingers or cast judgment. Its purpose is to make you stop for a minute and really contemplate the things you want to accomplish in your life.
It's for the people that feel like something is missing and they just don't have the foresight to analyze it and attack it. Without sounding cliche, we do only have one chance at this and who wants to waste our chance having regrets?
- Not the right time
- Not enough money
- Too many people to help in my own community
- My family and friends would think I was crazy!
- No desire
- I'm not a Jesus freak
- Too sad and emotional
- I already donate money
- I have nothing to offer
Do any of these excuses sound familiar? I would be lying if I didn't tell you that these are the exact excuses I had. But, my excuses turned into questions, my questions became the past, and my life became changed forever.
This post is the first of a series that will attempt to provide insight to each of these 10 excuses so that you will be able to make an informed choice to participate in a medical mission trip or not. I'm sure a mission trip isn't for everyone, I just haven't met anyone yet!