By Daniel L
I remember sitting in the airplane cursing myself for choosing to go on a mission trip while my colleagues were taking on internships. They would be getting ahead in the career game while I would have to squat for the next six weeks when going to the bathroom. Despite my attitude, my time in Asia was a huge growing experience and my flight home was definitely different than my flight over. So what did I learn in between those flights and where does that leave me now four years later? Read on to find out…
Finding a New Worldview
There comes a point when you spend enough time with someone that differences fade away, the awkwardness dissipates, and you begin to understand who they are. As I spent days, weeks, and months with the people in that city I started to see their world view and the similarities in our walks of life. It was in those similarities that we began to build our relationships.
I started there as a foreigner. I soon found myself as a guest. And I left as a brother. I think people have so much in common in this broken world. If we just look past our differences, we can begin a relationship on a common ground. God created us to be in community, and sometimes we just need to get out of our own way to find it.
Changing My Lenses
In Asia I made the distinction for the first time that I needed to change the direction of my ambition and drive. Being plucked out of the business school bubble opened my eyes to a world I was completely ignoring in my pursuit of the American Dream. Seeing poverty, corruption, and a suicide 10 feet from where I stood shocked me out of my inward thinking.
My time in Asia forced me to look at the world around me. I found a lot of pain everywhere I went and with everyone I talked to. We live in a world where we’re starving for examples of real love. I think many of us are starving emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually because we don’t express and experience what love truly is. On my flight back across the ocean, I had a renewed sense of the heart of Christ and how He modeled a way to lay down our lives in the service of others.
Reverse Culture Shock
Coming home was weird. I developed an acute sense of living standards by just sitting on a toilet. Unfortunately, the thing about shock is that it goes away. Over time, the things that I found almost repulsive slowly became part of the norm of my everyday life. I became numb to it.
Writing this post was a good reminder for me. What did I learn? Does it still apply? How can I re-orient my life based on the life-lessons that God taught me back then? A mentor of mine once made the distinction between head-memory and life-memory. I may not remember all the details of what happened in Asia, but what I do in my life should reflect the wisdom I gained in those six weeks. As I'm thinking through lessons learned, I should accompany that with some kind of action within my life.
When I meet someone, am I looking past our differences to find a common ground to build a meaningful relationship? Am I seeking out opportunities to emulate the love that Jesus modeled for me? Am I spending less on myself in order to give more to those in need? The next steps for me are not really to continue remembering what happened in Asia, but to continually adapt my life to reflect that memory and the lessons I learned.
Going on missions is just as beneficial to you as the people you go to serve. I would encourage anyone that is interested in checking out more about missions to attend one of the following info sessions at Watermark. Even now, I'm still taking away lessons from what I learned four years ago on the other side of the world.
• Tuesday, September 28th @ 8:30-9:15 PM (after Porch in West Community Room)
• Tuesday, October 5th @ 8:30-9:15 PM (after Porch in West Community Room)