One thing about missions trips. They make me appreciate the little things. Especially when I first get home from an overseas trip, and slowly re-enter the atmosphere of normalcy. It’s the simple things, really.
My first long shower—the hot water, the full-pressure, the familiarity. Oooh, the luxury of it all.
Air conditioning—just sitting in my living room, feeling not hot.
My bed—getting my first good sleep in a familiar bed, where everything just feels right. Ahhh.
These are a few of my favorite things.
I’m convinced that every American, especially young people, should get out of the country and experience another culture. Not on a cruise or on a vacation tour kind of way, for that creates a touristy, consumeristic view of the world. But in a way that puts you directly into the real lives of those who live there. This is one of the beauties of foreign missions. One really gets a sense of the culture—inside their grocery stores and cafes, in their homes, at their dinner tables, and also in their minds and hearts, to understand the values and perspectives and hopes and dreams of the people who live there.
Sharing experiences with people who love the Lord, but who have a different language and culture and perspective helps you understand better just how BIG our God is, and how small the differences we have between churches and denominations in America. You get a peek into how much we, as Christ followers, really have in common, whether we are in Asia or Europe or Africa or South America. Hopefully, you begin to understand that God is not American, but lives and moves and loves through the tapestry of the grandness of humanity.
It also gives you a different view on how the world sees America, both in its beauty and ugliness. The world generally loves all things American—music, film, styles, technology. But at the same time, I find myself embarrassed at times, to see the self-absorbed audacity that America has, through the eyes of those who must experience the consequences of our unmindful selfishness. As Americans, we need to own this more.
It also reminds you of how silly we are, when we so casually roll out our long list of first-world problems. Complaining of long lines at the store, or not getting the right coffee order, or when your garage door opener goes on the fritz. We Americans are so very spoiled. We really are.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve God in a few places in the world. In many of these places, I have seen Christ followers do so much with so little. Watching their faithful struggles, hearing their faithful prayers, watching their faithful obedience. I’m humbled in their presence. And God has been there, every single place, and every single time.
So I stand in my air-conditioned American shower, eyes closed, body relaxing, immersed by the warmth of the clean water. And I think of those who have no such luxuries. And I pray for them.