It's mission trip time! So you've packed your backpack with some or all of the essentials (depending on whether or not you're going to someplace where they are likely to sell what you need... or think you need). You've said a temporary goodbye to family and friends. You've sorted through the million hassles of plane tickets, train tickets, International health insurance, phone / email / some form of communication with the home land, vaccinations (less of this in London than Calcutta, obviously), and you're... ready? Sure. Why not? But ready for what?
This is the second trip I've taken that I'd qualify as a short-term mission project -- longer than a month in a foreign country, largely of my own design and choosing, and the last one with a friend in tow to India, this one a bit more solo. Both times, I've gone, full of hope, expectations (some realistic, some not), and conviction that I am where God wants me to be - serving vulnerable people, and bringing a microphone to the silenced.
Then...once the wheels are down and the butterflies are calmed ... reality sets in. Never do I doubt that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. It's just important to keep a good grasp on what a mission project is and is not. A mission project is a chance to explore, to search, to learn, to ask big questions, and to try to contribute as best you can in a short stretch of time. A mission project is not non-stop-ecstatic-life-altering-soul-fulfilling-Spirit-filled goodness. A fair bit of it can be, but going in seeking that sort of ecstasy can only lead to disappointment. I have learned (and am still learning) to appreciate the quieter, and yet no less meaningful parts of mission work. This is an opportunity and a tremendous gift to learn about self and call to God's work, whatever form that may take. It's a chance to sit in conversation with perfect strangers and walk away feeling like they've been a friend all along.
It is also frequently about maintenance, good self care, communication, and pushing yourself. Rarely is it actually the big leap of getting on the plane that represents the hardest part. Settling into life post-arrival and really digging into the missional life -- that's when the real work seems to begin.
With gratitude and a quiet, happy heart, tonight.