Toothbrushes for everyone

1 Thessalonians 3:2 “and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith,”

Kenya

 Have you ever been on a mission trip? What did you learn from the experience? I believe everyone should go on at least one mission trip during their lifetime. We can learn so much from our experiences on the mission field. It does not matter how low the trip, you will experience God is such new, unexpected ways. My husband and I have now gone on close to 20 mission trips and we are still learning and growing from our experiences. We serve an awesome God!

When I am out on the mission field, I feel a closeness to God that I don’t always feel when I am at home. I think this occurs because my daily distractions are not clouding my mind and my day. I also think we have to more fully rely on God during a mission trip because we are more aware of the problems that can affect us, like drinking unsafe water or driving down really bad roads. Strange surroundings and unknown circumstances can drive us to cling more closely to God and that is a wonderful feeling.

We participate in mission trips because we feel God calls us in Matthew 28:19 to Go and spread the Gospel to the end of the earth. I also believe we are called to go out to strengthen and encourage other Christian in their environments for them to spread the Gospel. It is eye opening to spend time with Christians from other countries and just share stories together. We feel so blessed to be able to do mission work and we pray to continue for many more years.

Mission trips must be well planned out with a well defined goal. One of the best options is to work with local churches or mission groups already on the ground in the area that you want to visit. These local workers can ensure that the right message is sent out to those they help. Too often, we have seen teams rush in thinking they are helping when they really are not. I remember an example of a team doing a trip for the wrong reason, they felt they knew more than the locals. This team was working in a country in Africa when they decided they wanted to do a small side trip to visit an orphanage. They took toothbrushes and toothpaste with them to donate to the orphanage. When they arrived, they got out of their vehicle and held a class to demonstrate how to brush your teeth. Then they gave each child a toothbrush, got on the bus and left. The children and director stood still for a moment and pondered what had just happened. One child asked the director, “Do they think we are so dumb that we do not know how to use a toothbrush?” You see the problem was not in their knowledge, the problem is in their poverty. The toothbrushes were a blessing because they needed them and when funds are short, toothbrushes are not high on the list of priorities. This team made a mistake in assuming that poverty equaled ignorance and it does not.

Many of the people we have worked with over the years have a college education. They are poor and they are well educated. The local people may not do the task the way we would do it in the west but they have an understanding of what works in their local environment. Years ago, we decided we would buy bicycles for the priests in rural area in Kenya. We wanted to buy American bikes and shipped them over because we thought they would be much better quality and last longer. After spending time talking with the local group, we realized that they would not be able to get spare parts for the American bikes. Once these bikes broke down from all the hard use on really bad roads, they would just be abandoned. If we bought Kenyan bikes, they could find lots of parts and the bikes would actually last much longer. We bought the local bikes and learned a very valuable lesson. A heart that is open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and willing to learn and understand the local area is the best asset for any missionary. Please remember when you go on a mission for God, you are going to work along side the local people. You are not their to reteach them how to do things, you are there to offer them a hand in the work they are already doing well.

May the Lord Bless you and keep.

Yvonne

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

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