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Why “What did you do?” is the wrong question to ask.

July 17, 2012

One of the fundamentals of acting is being able to ask yourself (in character), “Why am I doing this now?” Acting is all about verbs, its about doing, it is about action; oddly enough, life is filled with actions and choices as well. So the question that we as soon-to-be world travellers should be asking ourselves is, “why are we doing this trip now?”

I hope to bring to light a few of the misconceptions about short term missions and how I personally will be approaching the trip (these are sentiments that have been shared with me teammates, and though I assume they mostly would concur, I will not speak for them).

Clearly, as I just mentioned, all of life is filled with choices for how we act. Unfortunately too often these choices are ‘checking out’ or ‘zoning out to Facebook’ or otherwise neglecting our higher cerebral functions for the newest shenanigans of the Kardashians. I am not pointing a finger here; in fact I have probably checked Facebook about ten times today, though I can proudly say I am only slightly interested in how Kanye and Kim are doing.

Well, I hope I can take a little pride in saying that we have chosen to take the first step in engaging with a different culture by choosing to commit, fundraise and eventually go on a SPRINT trip, ours specifically being to Rwanda. I would say this is a good first step. The question then becomes, what choices do we make when we get there? And, even more importantly, what choices are we going to make when we return?

 

Everyone I have spoken to is really excited to ask what I will be doing in Rwanda, and my answer is always somewhat vague, partly because I don’t know exactly what I will be doing. I think we will be somewhat involved in taking and then administering a reconciliation workshop. But, then I feel the overwhelming urge to defend the validity of the trip when I say we hope to go and talk to people and learn and grow in our global-cultural understanding.

Those are not things that make nice stories.  I think people want to hear I will be building a house, or digging a well. These make better stories.

 

I want to challenge you to go deeper with us.

This is a trip that many of you have invested time and money into, and making us reduce this to experiences that simply happened, or something that can be fit into a single sentence (“it was… good”) strips away much of the reason behind why we are giving up weeks to go halfway around the world.

Here I repeat my acting question: “Why am I (are we) doing this now?”

 

Here is my answer: because we want to enter more fully into God’s kingdom!

This means we get to see how another culture sees God, how they grieve, how they love, how they worship, how they reconcile.  THEN we get to bring back some of that and share it with you, our friends and family and churches in our everyday lives.

 

I argue that while building houses or wells provides a sense of immediate satisfaction (not to mention material manifestation- Americans love seeing the physical), it quickly becomes a story, or a memory. This isn’t to complete neglect the importance of stories. But we could get stories from a book, when we are there, we are alive and I want to be bringing back a LIVING change. I want to bring back and be the bridge that is a relationship between YOU in Seattle to the Rwandans we will meet.

 

“What did you do” is a finite question, it has some sort of limited answer.

Try asking us:

“What did you learn?

“What was one of the most striking things about the trip?”

Or simply, “Tell me about your trip.”

 

I encourage you to take us out for tea, or let us take you out for coffee! I hope that we can engage in conversation not just trade a little one-liner about what Africa was like.

This is just a little slice of the pie; God has huge reasons for sending us out next August 12th. What is going to make the difference is how we savor what he is giving us, and how we share it with you.

 

 

As always, I encourage feedback- please post comments and questions. Follow our blog and see what happens. 

-Zach

 

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