Wednesday, June 8

To all our friends who come down for mission trips

Summer has arrived. We begin what is traditionally the season for volunteer groups coming down to help in our mission work. We are always grateful to the Lord for those who come year after year and do such a great job.

For those coming, or thinking about coming down there are a few things I would like to share. These are a few things seldom mentioned due to our not wanting to do say anything that might be misunderstood.

1) We desire an on-going relationship. Most of the groups coming down see the trip as a "missions experience." Something to talk about for a few days once you get back home. You want to DO missions, not just give to some missions offering. For a few short days you are eager to do things you normally wouldn't do. You take lots of photos. You meet new friends, experience a taste of a developing country's culture, food, and way of life. You have a lot of fun. Your heart is broken at seeing the how the poor barely survive from day to day. Once your 7-10 days are up, you get back on the plane and we never hear from you again. That is, unless you decide you want to come back, and then our communication is about dates for next year.

This is not what we want.

After you leave, we want to stay in contact with you. We want to know that you are praying for the people you have met and worked with. We want you to pester us with questions, updates, and actually stay in contact with those new friends you met while here. We want to feel that you too are committed to finishing the task you came to help out with while here.

Most are deeply touched by what you experience while here. Many express how much their life has been changed by the experience. Eyes have been opened to things one never knew was out there. Why then, once you leave, we never hear back from you? It is also strange to the nationals that after all the hugs and tears and moments shared, you never call, write, or even ask about them. Where are all the promised copies of those photos you took while here holding their kids on your laps?

2) We want you to become advocates for us there in the States. If the trip meant so much, share it with everyone you know back home. Make everyone look at your photos. Tell them how your life was changed by the trip. Share with them people's stories; not just, "oh, it was awesome!" Request time at church to share. Start an Ecuador prayer group, or at least keep Ecuador in your prayers. If God spoke to your heart while on the trip, follow up with the Lord about what He opened your eyes to. Don't return to life as it was before you came down. Be an advocate for missions. Keep Ecuador and global missions on the front burner of your church's attention.

3) Come prepared. It is amazing to me how many come down knowing they will be spending a lot of time sharing the Gospel one-on-one and yet not knowing how to do so. One of the comments we hear from our national brothers after every volunteer team has left is, "They apparently had never shared the Gospel with anyone before this trip." While there are certainly people who have come down who do know how to share an effective Gospel presentation, I would say that it is a very small percentage. Many coming on missions trips are doing so for the first time, and have never shared their faith back home, little less, overseas.

4) Be ready for the schedule to be changed. I know how frustrating it is to have one's plans changed at the last minute. But that is just the way things are here. Americans plan months and years in advance and like to have an hour by hour schedule of what they will be doing to maximize their time. That isn't the way things work here. We can plan all we want to and make out nice, organized sensible schedules, but most of the time things here are decided on the spur of the moment. I know it is frustrating (it is for me too) but being flexible is and willing to adapt quickly is something I wish I could say and not upset you.

5) Eat what is set before you. Most of you do a super job at eating all the foods and drinks offered to you while here. You make our people feel that their food is the best in the world. It really is! But there is always at least one of you in the group who is picky about what they eat. To not eat what is offered is a huge offense here. The people will always give you the best that they have. They are often embarrassed by the little they have to offer, but when it is rejected they are hurt. No excuses are acceptable, such as: "I am on a diet", "this is too much starch on one plate", "I can't eat this much", "has this lettuce been washed?", "what is this?", "if I eat this it will make me sick." Eat what is set before you (that is Biblical--see Luke 10!) The people who are hosting you have been eating/drinking these foods for eons and they are doing just fine. You'll be fine too.

6) Don't make promises you can't keep. After being here for a few days you realize how blessed you really are. You want to help the dear brothers and sisters whom you have grown to love in the few short days you have been here. But please be careful in what you tell them you are going to do after you leave. Few follow-up on what was offered. Closely related to this one is #7 below...

7) Consult with the missionary team about any money matters. Money is something you have a lot more of than those you are working amongst. When you see needs, the tendency is to want to do something to help. I'll be honest, there are many things that we definitely could use money for. But most of the time we are not consulted. This usually causes problems after you leave. For example, if you give to one dear brother whom you met and grew to love, what about all the others? To give to one and not to all the others causes problems. I could write pages on this, but suffice it to say, if you want to leave some money, tell us how much you want to give, and then ask us where/what/who would it best be used.

After all the above, I hope you hear my heart. We really want you to come help us. We have definite areas of our strategy that you can play a major role. What we are asking for is probably more than most are willing to give. But these are some of the things I have always wanted to say to the teams coming down.

13 comments:

Strider said...

These are excellent points Guy. Money is not the issue, work is not the issue, accomplishment is not the issue. Relationship is what is needed and wanted. Thanks for this good word.

GuyMuse said...

Strider,

Last night I listened to a report from an Ecuadorian volunteer work group who have just returned from Haiti. I couldn't help but think that the things they shared were the same kinds of things I have tried to say in this blog post. You are right, the BIG issue is relationships, and what/how we are going to keep these alive.

Aussie John said...

Guy,

In one form or another, you are stating what I've been applies in the local congregation at home, especially that of relationship.

Wish I could go,but, I can pray and dream.

GuyMuse said...

John,

We'd love to have you come. Never had a group from your part of the world!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, and well said, Guy, May God bless the work you, and those of the summer missionaries that will visit Ecuador, take with you, Small NT to give away to those you encounter in your path. God bless. Maria

GuyMuse said...

Maria,

Thanks for the comment. Did you say you are sending NT to us? I did not understand the last part of your comment. ALSO, the DVD's you sent us have been very well received. We were wondering if you might send 5-7 more. We'd like to send them to India, and Peru and other places where we are helping support with resources church planting going on. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Guy, I think all of these are GREAT, I would like to add one to your list!! Learn some Spanish!! It thrills the Ecuadorians to know that you are interested in learning Spanish!! They love to help you, and have fun laughing with you as you try to pronounce the words, and celebrate with you when you learn new words! It is even better when you come back the next time and remember them, and have learned new ones while in the States!! It is amazing how God uses us trying to learn spanish to open doors to tell them about Jesus! Listen as the transalators translate what you have just said, you will pick up on a lot of words that way, but as you walk to the next person get your translator to help you, they love it! It helps you and it also helps them with their english!! Also I have been to Ecuador 4 times, 2 to Quito, and 2 to Ventanas, i have eat food from the roadside vendors, and have NOT got sick, have eat ice cream from the roadside vendors and not got sick, have eaten food and drink in the homes that we go to sharing Jesus!!and i have been sick 2 times, once was the very first time that i came to Quito, i had the lovely allitude sickness for about 3 or 4 hours, and them last Ocotber I ate to much Fruit and had a bellyache for about for about 30 minutes, so the food is very safe!! the people that you go and talk to are very wonderful, people, they love you and want you to be close to them, they want to know that you love them, they love to tell you about what they do, if they are making something ask them what they are making, I will share a story from last year in Ventanas, These group of guys were working on this fishing net and we walked by, I stopped and started asking them about they net, and was very into what they were telling me, and after a little while was able to share the gospel by saying wow this reminds me of a story in the bible about Jesus tellng the fishermen to cast their nets they laughed and told me that my pastor had told them the same story, so i went back to asking more questions about the net and how it worked, what kinds of fish they caught, and other stuff, we has a great time, while they did not accept we planted seeds, maybe one day we will see them in heaven, i would love to see them again before that!! Sorry for going on and on!!
Theresa

GuyMuse said...

Theresa,

Thanks for the comment and what an interesting story at the end. As in so much about life, relationships are the key. We can't share our message until there is some kind of relationship established. The stronger the cords that bind us, the more we will have access to people's hearts.

Anonymous said...

Hi All I just wanted to tell it is great sharing the gospel with people right where they are at, like Jesus and the Samaritan, Last year went to Venezuela, I shared the gospel with a fisherman who was crossing taking us to an island to enjoy the beach. I shared about Jesus being with the fisherman. He was thrilled and I promised him a NT and brought to him one the next day. Apparently God was working in his heart already. Very unhappy with government and in poverty. Knew the pastor of a church near by, promised me he will go. So bring with you small NT in Spanish of course, get them from ABS and God will bless you and use you in a mighty way. Maria

Anonymous said...

Guy: I meant for the missionaries to take with them NT in Spanish when they go. If you need NT I can send some for you. Thanks Maria

Marchelle said...

Guy and Linda thank you for all your great work in Ecuador.You are so right about what you said.We all need to stay on top of that mountain even when we come home from our mission trips.As God tells us go tell,but also fellow up on what we teach,it is like a new baby needs to grow and we need to feed them.When we do God's work we will never get sick from the food or anything because God is taking care of us.Our church here in Mobile has Ecuador on our prayer list.God be with all my Brothers and Sisters there.I love y'all.Marchelle

GuyMuse said...

Maria,

Thanks for the reminder about bringing a Spanish NT. For those coming down who do not have one, they can be fairly easily obtained locally. Maria brings up a good point about people being prepared beforehand by the H.S. Often the Lord brings our paths together in a divine encounter, whereas if we are not careful we can easily miss the opportunities God brings before us to share with others.

GuyMuse said...

Marchelle,

Just saw Criss and his mom earlier today downtown. We talked briefly about starting a Bible study in his home with his family. Celia is the one who would be working with them since she lives nearby. Please encourage Criss to not let this opportunity slip by!