Short-term mission trips have been getting a bad rap, and maybe for good reason. They can and have been done poorly and in ways that are more hurtful than helpful. But let’s not be hasty. Have you taken the first-hand word of the beneficiaries into account?
I’ll be honest, I love EMI and I think what we do is great, but we are not perfect and I know we have made missteps. Are we helping or hurting? (read the book) I can keep on working and coming back because I know for a fact I am not the only staff member who spends lots of time wrestling with these questions. I can honestly say most people here are extremely humble and always trying to avoid doing missions badly. We talk about it all the time. Some of us lie awake at night…
I’ve been blogging about my recent trip to Uganda, but I’m taking a side trip today. Last week we lost my uncle George and I cannot go forward without saying a few words about him and my time in Alabama for his funeral.
I have so many great memories of my Uncle George. When I was a teenager he taught me how to drive stick on his old Datsun (yeah, before it was Nissan…I am that old) pickup truck in his cow pasture. As if my stalling the thing out every 50 feet was not entertaining enough, there was the hilarity of watching startled cows bolt for their lives as I bounced us all around the field.
I try to avoid pizza in the developing world. I dig pizza really, but why would I want it on a project trip? I’d rather try the local fare. And yet, pizza always shows up. ALWAYS. It’s unavoidable. This trip I made it a goal to get out of Uganda without eating a single slice.
I totally failed, but I can explain.
While at the Amazima School site I had the joy of attending the weekly chapel service. When I attend church in Africa, it’s normally with a group of other mzungus (white people) and we’ve met the pastor ahead of time and we get introduced because we are visitors whom people will want to greet. This time my introduction was made so people would not be distracted by the American woman with the huge camera.
There were the shy smiles and that typical Uganda laugh I’ve grown to appreciate. It sounds like a nervous chuckle, but I think maybe it’s just the normal reaction to mzungus or new people. It’s also very possible that my hair looked terrible.
If you think getting your photo taken is a bit intimidating, try being the photographer. I don’t much like having to shoot people I don’t know, but that is pretty much the life I chose here so I have to suck it up. Sometimes here at EMI I get the blessing of a having a "handler."
Matt walked me around the Amazima construction site one morning while the sun was lower, the light decent and the air a bit cooler (so, like 95 instead of 195* F). There were people digging latrines in this heat. The next time I want to complain about some aspect of my job, I will remember this. Like 45 seconds ago.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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