Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pros and Cons of Going on a Mission Trip to India

So just before I left for this mission trip, I re-read and finished the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter (awesome author, by the way). So... I'm going to take a page out of Cammie Morgan's book and create a pro and con list for everything I've experienced so far and what I've been taking away from this mission trip (also the amazing sisterhood I've seen among the daughters of As Our Own kind of reminds me of the GG sisterhood... only this one is real and a lot more life-changing, in my opinion).

While the approach might be a little tounge-in-check/silly, there are two things I want to point out:

  1. There are infinitely more pros than cons. Many of the cons are actually just pros in disguise. Writing both out is in a way recording the little and big joys and gifts of this trip.
  2. Whether pro or con, I've learned so much about me, God, my relationships with Him and others. I'm still processing, and I don't feel radically different right now, but I also know that this trip has already begun to be a catalyst for change in my life. 

So here it goes...

PROS AND CONS OF GOING ON A MISSION TRIP TO INDIA
a list by Bunmi Ishola

Pro: I'm in Asia, and have now been to 5 out of the 7 continents. Pretty cool and a check off my bucket list.

Con: It took two 8+ hour flights to get here, and life sped up by 10.5 hours. While I don't mind flying and I don't get jet-lagged, it was still pretty tedious.

Pro: The food is delicious. Some of the other team members feel like they may not eat chicken once we're back in the States, or probably will not be frequenting Indian restaurants immediately after we return, but I am loving it. I rarely eat this well in my daily life and will miss having three full meals (plus at least one tea time) a day and all the variety of meals we've been served.

Con: We can't eat everything and I do miss having fresh fruit and vegetables (which is funny, since it's not like I eat a whole lot of it when I'm home, haha).

Pro: Bananas can be eaten and are easily available.

Con: I don't really like bananas.

Pro: The culture is super service-oriented. Everyone wants to do everything for you and make things as easy as possible. They will go out of their way to make sure that you are happy, and will often refuse your offer to help or do it yourself.

Con: Sometimes there are things you just want to do for yourself or you feel guilty because you know it won't be done how you would prefer and you plan to redo whatever it is once they are gone. Like putting food on your plate (so you don't get too much or something you don't want), pushing in your own chair (I don't like to be too close to the table), turning on your own lights and TV in your hotel room (we have instantly turned almost all of them right back off and have never even watched the TV).

Pro: At church and both homes we visited, the girls had made us these long, gorgeous leis. They smelled divine and were so pretty to look at.

Con: There's no way to keep them! And the one time I tried, the hotel staff threw it away when they cleaned our room.

Con: We lost one of my bags. And really,  it belongs to my brother-in-law.

Pro: It didn't have any of my clothes or anything that couldn't be replaced. And it was one less bag for me to worry about!

Pro: We are loving the clothes. Tunics and jeans/leggings all day, everyday? Bring it on! It's so comfortable and can be casual yet still dressy/nice looking. 

Con: I might head home and spend a fortune to completely try to revolutionize my whole wardrobe. 

Pro: This has been a great opportunity for me to build new relationships and walk through life with new friends. It's been a struggle for me since I moved to Houston and with the amount of time we have all spent pre-trip and now on the trip, we definitely have all grown close.

Pro: We have spent a lot of time in prayer and fellowship. As a team, we have devotions together every morning. We pray before drive from one place to another, we pray together before every meal and at every transition. We eat every meal together. It has been so good and such a sweet time. And it's so fabulous to constantly have God at the forefront.

Pro: On that note, it has been super cool watching my roommate use most of her downtime to read Scripture and journal (we have also had some hilarious conversations). 

Con: I will miss this when we go home. I definitely do not spend most of my time, nor my company, in such single-mindedness on the Lord.

Pro: I feel convicted enough, or really I just have loved it to much that I plan for that to be a change in my life. 

Con: It's easy to say and do now, a part of me is terrified I won't have the dedication to follow through (but maybe this is a pro because if I feel this way, it shows how much I want it if it scares me to not have it).

Pro: Meeting the girls As Our Own now calls their daughters. 

Con: Not being able to show you pictures of how cute, happy and well-taken care of (or at least not online, ask me in person).

Pro: Meeting the wonderful house parents and caretakers and staff who have dedicated their lives to raising these girls up into a new identity. Without these people, the girls could still be in situations where they would be vulnerable to sec-trafficking and abuse. And grown up with a low-standard of care and lacking empowerment.

Con: Occasionally there was a language barrier and it wasn't always easy to talk and share with each other.

Pro: Love is a universal language and there was definitely no love barrier between us and the As Our Own family.

Pro: Seeing the girls and the staff act as a real family. Knowing that through their loss, they have no found love, and will have a beautiful legacy. That there is a second chance. There is redemption. 

Con: Knowing that this organization would exist if it wasn't for all the sad stories that have brought them here. Worse is knowing there are millions of other girls who are not blessed in this way, who have no one standing in the gap for them.

Pro: Knowing As Our Own has a plan and vision to help combat this (I'll share this in more detail in my next post. It's very exciting stuff!).

Pro: Getting to be part of that vision. Our mission trip here wasn't the typical "patch band-aids on the wounds" deal. A lot of the work we did was with the goal to leave behind tools and ideas that can continue to help build the connection between daughter and caretaker.

Con: Because the connection between the daughters and caretakers have been growing strong, the girls didn't need me to guide them through an activity or reaffirm them that they were on the right track--they had their parents. So there were a lot of times where I know I felt pretty useless.

Pro:  The girls didn't need me to guide them through an activity or reaffirm them that they were on the right track--they had their parents. These are real relationships, ya'll! 

Pro: I ended up occupying my time taking a lot of pictures for the team. And since photography is something I love to do, I found joy in that. I can't wait to make a photo book to share them!

Pro: Not feeling "used" or "needed" has also allowed me to observe that honestly, God can work without me. He doesn't need me for things... He is able to do great things whether I chose to step up and be proactive or not. It has also let me realize how much I want to feel needed and important and just used by Him. This is also a little bit of a conviction because...

Con: There is so much more work to be done. Not just in India, but the world. There are so many orphans in the word that are not truly being shown the love of God. And even if you're not a Christian, there are too many who do not even have a quality standard of care. What we would want for our own. There are many who are victims of human trafficking, even in Houston. Many who are waiting for someone to dignify them, notice them, show them mercy.

Pro: Knowing there is so much more work that needs to be done. Not just in India, but the world. And knowing that while God doesn't need me, He does want me to be involved. He is calling me to work alongside Him. To help in the redemption of the poor, oppressed and orphan for the glory of His name. 

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