Today’s prompt is so fun and I can’t wait to read other posts from the link-up!
I’m linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals to post about a Missions Trip that I have been on!
I have to admit that I’m a total cheat. This prompt is so fun because I grew up as a missionary kid. My parents have been missionaries for over 30 years. They both spent several years of their childhoods on the mission field as well. After graduating from college and working, they both headed out to the mission field- my Mom to Nigeria and my Dad to Niger. My Dad then took a trip to Nigeria for language study, where he met and eventually married my Mom. Shortly after their marriage, they returned to Niger and have been there since. My older brother Daniel was born on the mission field and I was born while they were on a vacation in the States. Our family of four returned to the mission field when I was about 3 months old. We would live in Niger for 4 years, then return to the States for a year, then back to Niger for four more years. My brother and I were both there until we graduated high school and came back to the States for college. My parents still work in Niger today! Theo’s family also has a lot of background in missions. They did several terms in CAR and although they are living Stateside now, they still go on at least one medical missions trip each year.
This is a picture of my family at my high school graduation banquet, just a few weeks before I said goodbye to Niger for good:
I guess some would view my childhood as one big missions trip, but I didn’t see it like that growing up. I just knew that I lived in Africa and I loved it. LOVED IT.
My parents were church planters and when I was a year old they moved to a remote village to plant a church there. My brother and I picked up the local language (Songhai) quickly, and we are both still fluent in it. My parents were doing ministry, but when I was young I didn’t know any other life. The little African children weren’t “starving beggars” who needed my help; they were my friends. My very best friends.
This is a picture of my friend Sophie and I. Sophie and I were best friends growing up.
When we were 16, she got married, and she asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding (totally different from being a bridesmaid in an American wedding!!!). A few months later she had her first son.
When I entered the 6th grade, my family and I decided that it would be best for me to go to the mission boarding school that was a few hours away from my parents. I won’t elaborate on that decision here, but I will assure you that my parents DID NOT abandon me and I LOVED going to Sahel Academy.
One of the requirements to graduate from Sahel was community service hours. I know, I know…boarding school AND community service? It must have been a prison!!! Nope. Nope. Nope. Getting community service hours was one of my favorite parts of high school, and so many of my great memories revolve around the community service that we did.
A group of us volunteered at a local orphanage once a week. We would play with the kids, read to the kids, plan activities and games for the kids, and just build relationships with them in general. This ministry is still going on this day, and they are doing an excellent job of incorporating bible stories into the day as well.
This picture below was taken after we had planned a huge end of the year party for the kids at the orphanage. We had a massive water fight, played soccer and then gave them all kool-aid and sent them home! hahaha! (Tam and I are wearing shorts which is a big no-no, it must have been after everyone went home and we “dressed down”).
Loving on some of the girls. What a wonderful ministry this Christian couple has to some of the orphans in Niger!
My junior year and senior year of high school, I was able to be on the outreach team. I think that this was one of the highlights of my high school years. Together with several other students and staff, we would plan outreach trips. These were basically short-term (a day, a weekend or a week at the longest) missions trips to local villages or ministries that needed some extra hands.
My high school graduation with the other members of the outreach team. We would meet weekly to plan, pray and contact local missionaries.
I went on many outreach trips and I helped plan several that I didn’t go on.
One of my favorite trips was a trip to a local village, Ayorou. We drove about 2 hours from the city and stayed at a missionaries home. The girls all stayed in one compound, while the boys camped in tents at another. On Saturday and Sunday we went to a local clinic and helped clean up and paint the entire clinic (think Urgent Care/hospital).
That place was disgusting. Blood on the walls, dirt and grime everywhere. Absolutely disgusting. We scrubbed walls, we scrubbed floors, we swept the place out, we disposed of gross rags and even needles. We worked SO HARD all day and in the end the entire clinic was cleaned and painted. I doubt it lasted very long…healthcare in Niger is MUCH different from what we have here!
This is the whole team. We were exhausted and most certainly inhaled wayyy too many paint fumes!!
Throughout my four years in high school, we did many trips like that. We would stay with a missionary in a village and help them out with whatever projects they needed help with. One year a team of us went to a neighboring country and did a VBS for the missionary kids while their parents attended a yearly conference/orientation. When were on these trips, we would usually try to do some outreach as well. We would teach a Bible club, or host an English class. Sometimes the guys would announce a soccer match and before it started, they would share the gospel. When it got dark, we would show the Jesus film, usually in French, Zarma or Hausa. Pretty much the entire village would come…mostly because it was something “entertaining” to do, but also because most of them had NEVER heard a movie in their own language!
Here we are teaching an English class.
On another trip, we helped repair the roof of the church in Doumba. This is the church that God used my parents to plant (a ministry that had started 15 years before!)! And, yes…that tiny, mud building is a church.
Besides these outreach trips, I also had the amazing experience of traveling! One of my best friends, who also went to Sahel, grew up in Timbuktu. Yes, the real, actual Timbuktu. One summer I got to go visit here! Tombouctou is the French spelling, fyi…I’m not making this up.
For our senior trip, we went to Benin and one day we got to tour the Mercy ship that was docked there. In case you haven’t heard of Mercy Ships, they are basically a hospital on a boat. They dock in a port of a needy country and provide services for the people. They will take trips inland to help give people surgeries or the medical attentions that they need. Being on board was so cool, and something that I will never forget! And, yes…that is my entire senior class. With a chaperon and an extra friend that came on the tour with us.
Like I said before….when I was growing up and experiencing all this, I didn’t know it was so awesome. I didn’t realize how many opportunities I had and how blessed I was to see mission, experience and participate in mission work first-hand.
When I was in college, I also went on several trips, usually during Spring break. I was introduced to inner city ministry when I spent two of my Spring Breaks at Urban Hope in Philadelphia. That was a powerful, eye-opening experience, and one that has really helped shape my life as a foster parent.
I have no clue what the significance of the toilet paper was. No clue.
The second year I went! That is me and my brother in our matching shoes stretching across the sign, lol!!!
Theo could write his own long blog post about all the missions trips that he has been on! In fact, despite the fact that I grew up overseas, Theo has been to more countries than me! We were even until I took him to Niger to visit, which added two to his list (we stopped in Morocco), but I already had both of those on my list. Theo has been to every continent except Australia and Antarctica! I’m still stuck at 3 continents!
Since being married, Theo and I have not going on any missions trips. I’m often tempted to tell myself that this is a bad thing and that we are not very spiritual because we haven’t served in such a way. But over the years, I’ve learned a lot more about missions and how God equips us as “missionaries” right where we are. After reading the book “When Helping Hurts” I have quite a different view of short-term missions. I would highly recommend reading it!
I’ve also come to realize that Theo and I are missionaries. Our little home in this little town in Ohio is a mission field. We recently opened our home to foster children and I can’t think of a more “mission-minded” thing to do. Not only do I get to have a life-long impact on foster children, but also on their biological families and allllll the many people who come through our home (caseworkers, therapists, government programs, lawyers and court appointees, just to name a few). It might not be very glamorous, and I can’t post any pictures or information about it, but I know that it is a mission and we are happy to be a part of it.
So what about you? What is a missions trip that you have been on? Any other adult MK’s reading along?