When the boys were in 4th grade and 9th grade our family went to La Paz, Mexico on a mission trip. We went with a group of people who all but one, we did not know. Years later, the boys continue to talk about the experience. It completely changed their perception of the world.
They learned what true poverty looks like.
They learned that what we take for granted, others see as luxuries that are out of their reach.
They learned that having very little creates a creativity on how to use the things you do have.
And, most importantly, they learned that helping others is one of the most gratifying things a person can do.
I think all families should experience a mission trip to another country. I’ve been asked, ‘why another country? There are enough people to help in the U.S.’ My response is that going to another country and immersing in another culture amplifies the experience to a greater level.
Fundraising was a part of our process. I was uncomfortable with this, however, being there because other people paid for you to be there added to the seriousness of the trip. There is conscious obligation to the ‘senders’ to fulfill their expectations.
Not all mission trips are religious. There are organizations that go without the Christianity angle. Either way, it is an experience that has changed the fabric of our family’s viewpoint for the better. Taking children opens their minds to influences they would not have had otherwise.
As a side note, I do know someone who went with Peace Corp and their mission was to empower women to work outside of the home. Before children I would have thought that a noble goal. However, now I see it as an afront on other country’s cultures. I think we should go in to embrace and better their circumstances, not try to change them for what our culture thinks is ‘right.’
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.