*Not* On a Mission

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be well on my way to El Salvador by the time this is published.  And, since I can’t get enough teen spirit in my life, I’ll be with a crew of high school aged kids (none of whom are related to me) from the church I attend.

Approximately 99% of the time I tell someone about this journey, they reply with some variation of, “Oh, like a mission trip?”.

∼To which I reply, “Yes, exactly.  Because I have all the mysteries of the world and life itself completely figured out, making me uniquely qualified to advise people I don’t really know how to live their lives. I’m hoping they’ll ask me about best practices for living with teen/tween kids.”∼

By the way, I learned today that the tilde (∼) is now being used to express sarcasm and irony.  I am so over the moon excited about this development that I decided to write a sentence in headline sized font.  Also, I’m trying to figure out how to put tildes around this entire damn POS blog.

Which is all just a really verbose way of saying no, it’s not a mission trip. Which I suppose means I owe anyone posing the question more of an explanation.

Before I go on, I’m going to remind you I have no actual expertise on anything, most certainly not theology or the Bible.  Of course, lack of expertise has never kept me from prattling on, so here we sit.  BUT, I have attended church most of my life, the first 18 years of which were as the preacher’s daughter; and I do believe that lends me somewhat of a unique perspective on communities of faith.  And coming from that perspective, I can tell you that church people can really, really, REALLY get their panties into wads over language and terminology.  Speaking in generalities, it’s not a bad thing. But it is, most definitely, a thing.  And I’m most definitely participating in said panties wadding by writing a whole post on why this isn’t a mission trip.

And, going further down this long and winding road of my thoughts, let me talk at you about my thoughts on being fortunate (or maybe even just experiencing dumb luck) and blessed. My view of the circumstances of me being born white to two college educated parents, in a land where I had access to quality public education, where I always had three meals a day put before me, and ultimately had the means to attend college myself; make me fortunate.  In other (typically more fundamentalist) circles, folks really want this scenario to be painted as being blessed.  As in, all those things happened in my life because God smiled upon me.  Which leaves girls born in Taliban controlled Afghanistan(and one or two gazillion other humans on the planet) in quite a conundrum. And, in my mind, makes God seem like some sort of blessing wand waving jackhole who trends toward disproportionately waving said wand over white people. Put another way, it seems a bit of an oversimplification to use blessing, or lack thereof; as a way to explain why the kids from our sister congregation in El Salvador attend school (for only a half day) in this facility:

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While my kids attend classes all day in this facility:

photo credit

The language used when I first went to El Salvador in 2014 was ‘a journey of accompaniment.’ This time around it’s being referred to as a ‘pilgrimage,’ and that terminology is a product of overall youth (high school) programming that is at least somewhat rooted in things like Liberation Theology and Critical Pedagogy; and this whole ball of wax is way to heady for me to even think about dealing with on this blog. Or any blog, really.  This is more the stuff of epic non-fiction volumes than stream of consciousness online journaling.

So, all of this is to say that I’m currently off serving as an adult chaperone for a youth trip which I’m not at all qualified to describe.  But I’d like you to know I’m not trying to save anyone’s soul.  Because we all know that would be ironic enough for Alannis to write a whole ‘nother song about.

Also, those kids of mine I’m always griping about?  I haven’t even left yet, and I miss ’em already.  Parenthood is a strange beast.

I’m a white man living in a white man’s nation

I think the man upstairs must’a took a vacation

I still have faith but I don’t know why

Maybe it’s the fire in my little girl’s eyes

-Jason Isbell

You can listen to the whole song here.  Then go to the music streaming service of your choice and listen to the whole album.  You can thank me later.








2 thoughts on “*Not* On a Mission

  1. I embrace the term “mission trip,” and I DGAF if it bothers people. As i said to my congregation before we left on our first of two youthworks mission trips this summer: Why does the word “mission” make people so nervous? What is our mission? To grow as we go, to love as we serve, and to lead as we leave. I made that up on the spot, and that’s what it is. I would hope every church trip has a mission. I’m not sure even why people would be terrified to say that a mission might include a verbal language of the good news of Jesus Christ. Though that’s not the aim of our trips, I wouldn’t be sad or apologetic if it was. Why on earth would anyone want to keep a secret the best news there is: that we are loved unconditionally, that we are forgiven and free, and sent to serve?

    Have a great time!


  2. I am really the one who is being enriched, served, educated and blessed beyond all expectations, during an experience like the one you are taking part in.

    Beautiful niece, this is a fantastic post.


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