a "worthwhile" mission trip defined (part 3)

Well, that title is certainly misleading, because I’m sure as heck not going to give a satisfactory definition of a worth-the-investment mission trip.

On second thought, maybe I am.

A worthwhile mission trip = a trip that God called you to, that he provided for (in whatever crazy ways he saw fit), in which you surrendered completely to the Holy Spirit and refused to quench the Holy Spirit upon your return home.

Feel free to tweak it as you see fit.

So, we got home from Somali Club (which has been AMAZING by the way, but is wearing me out like nobody’s business) this afternoon and headed to the pool. I swam with the girls for a bit, then settled into a lawn chair with a book called Zealous Love: A Practical Guide to Social Justice.

The book is divided into 8 sections: trafficking, clean water, refugees, hunger, education, environment, HIV/AIDS, and inequality. Each section has 5 essays written by 5 different people serving in these fields around the world. Then there are practical things for you to do to help.

Set my heart on fire. I sat there at the pool reading about human trafficking, and even though I’ve seen some stuff in real life (in Cambodia) that was more horrific than what I was reading, tears started pooling in my eyes, my heart felt like it was breaking in two, and I had half a notion to stand up on my pool chair and start telling everyone that this stuff is going on and hurting REAL PEOPLE and we need to STOP IT AND NOW.

I didn’t do that. But I did thank God for giving me such a passion for needs around the world, and I asked him to help me turn that passion into compassionate action in every way possible from now until I take my last breath.

I have so much bubbling up in my heart, but I’m going to be disciplined and answer Question #2 from Wednesday: What exactly will you be doing while you’re in Cambodia?

Honestly, we have NOTHING set in stone yet–not departure dates or length of stay or where we’ll stay or who will take us places or what we’ll do each day or any of that. But here are some of our goals:

1. Spend quality time at “our” orphanage–playing games with kiddos, doing crafts, holding hands, dancing, talking, sharing snacks, saying “I love you, and Jesus loves you too” and taking a billion pictures.

2. Bring Christmas to our missionary friends. Find out what they want and can’t get (or can’t get cheaply) in Cambodia, and bring it to them in one of our many suitcases. And their requests are usually things like Diet Coke in plastic bottles, Twizzlers, a hand-held can opener, deodorant, Yahtzee score cards, stuff like that.

3. Meet my dear, dear friend Keri (a Texan living in Singapore who has already promised to hop, skip, or fly to Cambodia to meet us while we’re there). This girl has encouraged me more in the past year or so than I could ever begin to say. I can’t wait to hug her Southern little neck.

4. Buy a ton of Fair Trade items from men and women who have left the sex trade and are working so hard to support themselves with honest, respectable jobs. I’m so excited about this and have more to share soon (a way you can get involved!!).

5. Meet our friend Panha’s family–mom, dad, and brothers. We fell in love with Panha (our 18yo translator on last year’s trip) and have been honored to be a part of his family’s life from afar for the past year. He already invited us to dinner at his house (“You will not all fit in my home, but we can eat outside.”). Not sure if he cleared it with Mom first. I’m guessing not.

6. Visit Prek Eng 1, The Seeds of Hope orphanage that my sister’s church (Community Church in West Milton, OH) sponsors. I grew up in that church when I was little, Bethany’s father-in-law is the pastor, and her husband Stewart is the youth pastor. Community has sent teams of visitors multiple times, and Bethany has helped inspire the youth group to give so much to those kids. She would love to go see them but has a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old, so she can’t right now. We got to visit them last time, and I was so thrilled to point to all the pictures on the wall and say, “THAT IS MY SISTER!!!” I think they understood. I can’t wait to hug them again on her behalf.

7. Visit as many other Asia’s Hope orphanages as we can. The more I learn about Asia’s Hope and get to know the Executive Director and his family better, the more ON FIRE I am about getting more churches to sponsor more orphanages (in Cambodia! Thailand! India!) and get these beautiful children off the street and into real, loving families (these house parents + 20 kids are really, truly like family to each other).

8. Make return visits to some amazing organizations/ministries that are fighting human trafficking right where it happens. Encourage them to keep going, that they are doing valuable, valuable work.

9. Use all our skills (writing, speaking, photography, friend-making, whatever) in whatever way God leads to document our trip, raise awareness of what’s going on in that part of the world (and where/how God is at work), and get other people FIRED UP about making a difference for the kingdom. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, but I know it’s a huge part of it.

10. Let the Cambodian people teach us about their culture. We want to learn all about them and learn from them. We want our girls (and us too) to have a big, wide view of the world God made, and not just our own little corner of it.

An exhaustive list? No. But it’s a good start, I think. And as we make the 30-minute drive (during rush hour) to Somali Club each day, we drive right by the airport, and the huge planes flying over our heads get us talking about Cambodia. The girls are beyond excited. And so are we.

And look what came in the mail yesterday. Be still my heart.

Thank you so much, friends, for engaging in this three-day discussion with me. It’s not over (hoo boy!), but I’ll leave you with this for now.  (p. 167 of Serving With Eyes Wide Open)

As we understand the people God has made in cultures all over the world, we’re drawn to worship him. As we persevere through the challenges that come with interacting cross-culturally, we demonstrate a love that reflects God’s glory. As we behave in ways that set others at ease and respects their differences, we give people glimpses of Jesus.

We cannot truly serve those we do not know and love. However, as we enter into deep relationship with those we serve, we, in a small way like Jesus, take on other’s burdens as our own and through authentic relationships, begin to truly lay down our lives so that those we serve might encounter the life of Jesus.

11 thoughts on “a "worthwhile" mission trip defined (part 3)

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » 12 more ways to love the poor {day 25 of 31}

  2. Pingback: writing an e-book: the pros and cons | WordServe Water Cooler

  3. Pingback: Marla Taviano » my purging theme song {day 6 of 31}

  4. Rebekah Gambrell

    I can totally understand what you are feeling. I have been reading books that have been shaking what I think and believe about life in general. I have seen and dealt with the injustices abroad but I have been faced with the great need that there is here in the USA.
    Injustices are great all around us and Cambodia one of the worst. I keep reading Isaiah 58 and it brings tears to my eyes every time I read it but it motivates me to move and pray.
    Have a great trip!! I am all about the Fair trade stuff!! not free trade!!

  5. Keri

    I am FIRED up about this trip!!! Every single thing on your list I want to do too….except for meet me because most of the time I know me but I am counting the moments until I get to look you in the eyes and tell you how much you inspire me. I can’t wait!!!! We really need to set up a time to start brainstorming dates and locations…….it’s really going to happen!!!

  6. Bethany

    I love your list! Especially #6. 🙂

    I totally want to purchase Fair Trade items to sell at our Spring Art Fair Fundraiser!

    Stew and our teens (and anyone else in our church who wants to go) are going back to Cambodia next summer (2012)!

    When my kids are older, I want to take a family trip to Cambodia as well!

    Is there a book you would recommend the teens to read before they go to Cambodia?

  7. Rosanne

    How do you take this emotionally? I was looking at Compassion International as we are wanting to support a child. I was bawling the entire time. How you continue to have compassion and a soft heart but don’t end up a crying mess all the time? I cry for the children in our neighborhood who are bringing themselves up. I want to take them all in and take care of them. But they haven’t seen half the horrors of the children you will see/are reading about. How do you handle that? Just curious.

  8. Shannon Wheeler

    I ordered the book you mentioned. It sounds great. Are you familiar with Exodus Cry? I have a friend from childhood who works with them, fighting human trafficking – they work here and overseas.

    I love your heart for the Lord, and I love the approach you are taking to your trip, that it’s the Lord’s to guide and direct!

  9. ellen

    I think your explanation rocks!!! That is it in one sentence, but I love the ones after it. Would love to help send Christmas to the missionaries there if that would be possible? Just let me know. I understand what it is like to know people who have been called to leave the US and live in an inpoverished country – and now call that country home — it is amazing. I am sure this will be/has been a life changing experience from prep to return

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *