Life After a Mission Trip

03/07/14

I couldn’t wait to go on my first mission trip to Malawi and Uganda four years ago. I spent months preparing for the experience of entering a completely different culture, and I’m glad I did. My team leader mentioned that transitioning back to life at home after a trip might be just as difficult, but I secretly believed I wouldn’t have any trouble. Just in case, I had a little book called Unearth, which was supposed to help with the transition. Little did I know how accurately it would speak to my transition and the deeper relationship I would develop with God as a result.

 
Below, I’ve pulled out some of the teachings from Unearth that helped me most with my transition back to “normal” life. I hope you’ll find these as helpful as I did. 
 
Mission trips can open our hearts and minds to new God-given perspectives
                               Mission trips can open our hearts and minds to new God-given perspectives.
 
Surrender to Life In-Between
“There is a place between each border, a strip of earth; many have come to call the middle land.” (Unearth, p. 11)
 
Suspended between the life in Africa and life at home, I was feeling uncomfortable. God had used this beautiful experience to shake me up and I realized I was dissatisfied with my life. I decided to use the long hours of travel time back home to ponder and pray about what I wanted to do.
 
“God,” I prayed. “I want to follow your will for my life. I’m giving you everything I have, all I want, even my dreams. I want to do it your way from now on.” This prayer was the beginning of my journey in embracing the discomfort of the transition and discovering the beautiful ways God wanted to meld my experience in Africa into my everyday life.
 
While serving the children in Africa, I experienced God in a wonderful new way
                           While serving the children in Africa, I experienced God in a new and wonderful way. 
 
Embrace the New Perspective
“Perspective is different here in the Western world; all I see and all I feel is me. When I was overseas ... I could see nothing but their faces, feel nothing but their need. ... We were made to live somewhere in between these two worlds.” (Unearth, pp. 21, 22)
 
God used the stark difference between my world and the poverty in Africa to highlight areas where I needed His help. At home, I found myself quickly angry with first-world complaints, deafened by the volume of the television, frustrated by my complacent life. I started asking God what he wanted me to see in those moments.
 
Not only did He want me to become a better steward of my finances, He wanted me to be a better steward of the passions and talents He gave me. He created me to bless others in a unique way. I needed to address the areas in my life that were keeping me from being all I was created to be.
 
Because of my experience in Africa, I asked myself, “How has God created me to u
           Because of my experience in Africa, I asked myself, “How has God created me to uniquely serve others?”
 
Use Weakness as a Catalyst
“Only the method of an amazing God would allow our hearts to ache in ways we never thought it could ... weakness does not mean I am less godly; it is a catalyst to greatness.” (Unearth, pp. 36, 46, 47) 
 
The aches and pains of this transition time gave me the perfect excuse I needed for a fresh start. I began pursuing a new career, one where my passions and talents could serve others. I discovered thought patterns and fears that I needed God help to change. I identified relationships that I had neglected for too long. 
 
In my efforts to pursue a life dedicated to God, I sought wise counsel and accepted the help of some wonderful Christian friends. God has faithfully continued to work in my life since that time. Today I’m able to serve and love others with much greater capacity. 
 
Serve Where You Are
“Your life is not mundane if everything is purposeful.” (Unearth, p. 89) 
 
While in Africa, there was a clear connection between what I was doing and the people I was helping. But, as I sat in my office at home, day after day, I struggled with how to serve others from where I live. I wondered why God would want me here instead of there.
 
I don’t want just a stamp on my passport and a few bragging stories. I want to be the change, to impact the world. God is teaching me about how, with His help and direction, I can intentionally approach each day to do just that, right where I am.
 
God has challenged me to find ways to serve and love others from home
                                    God has challenged me to find ways to serve and love others from home.
 
Going on a Venture Trip can be a wonderful way to serve others and grow in our relationship with God. The process of coming home can be uncomfortable. But don’t ignore or rush through the discomfort or the hard questions. It’s when you are suspended in the middle land that you will see God in new and wonderful ways.
 
Is God calling you to go on a Venture Trip? Looking for other ways to get involved locally? Sponsor a child, package meals, assemble SmilePacks, and more!