Poverty

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					                             Poverty and Re-Entry
                   (found on internet a few years ago, source unknown)

Many of the people we see and work with on our trips are living in poverty. It is
important to contemplate the complicated issue of poverty before, during, and
after a trip.

A few things to keep in mind:

      Poverty is a complicated, systematic global issue. There are no simple
       solutions.

      Don’t allow yourself to selfishly process the financial poverty of others.
       While it might be difficult for you to deal with the sites, sounds, and smells
       of poverty for two weeks, remember that it is much more difficult for them
       to live in it.

      Along the same lines, resist the temptation to clean-up their poverty by
       spiritualizing it. The most common temptation is to think and say
       something along the lines of, “I can’t believe how tough it is here, but how
       much joy they have in the Lord.” Realistically, this statement maybe needs
       to be, “If it were me living here, I couldn’t handle it like they do.” To
       emphasize their joy in poverty is usually our own coping mechanism for
       how we feel. It makes us feel better and makes it easier for us to handle
       the poverty if we can envision them as joyful. Their joy in the Lord doesn’t
       make the poverty ok or any less detrimental to their lives.

      The key is to both embrace the poverty for what it is: very difficult and at
       the same time appreciate their joy for what it is. Yes, they have joy in the
       Lord, but it is certain that they would like to be able to feed their families
       and have access to adequate shelter and healthcare.

      Have the courage and patience to ask the Lord to show you and teach you
       about his work in the world and with difficult situations like poverty.

      Don’t be motivated by guilt induced, unreal and knee-jerk expectations of
       response. Trust that the Lord is with you, guiding you and currently
       speaking to you about your place in His work in the world.
                                What If it’s Nice?
You might be surprised some or all of the following when you arrive:

      How nice the accommodations are
      How good the food is
      How “easy” the work is
      How much down time there is

There are several reasons why this can happen. Here are a few of the main ones:

      Hospitality. These hosts place a high value on sharing their country with
       you and caring for you while you are with them. At times, this can mean
       offering extended periods, some times even a day or more, of rest

      Security. If you are staying in a nicer hotel, or in an area behind a locked
       and/or guarded gate, it’s not the same as living in a gated community in
       the U.S. Often times, our teams are working in areas where a high
       concentration of Americans can attract the wrong kind of attention. Our
       hosts sometimes take special security precautions in their selection of
       lodging. It’s not to be exclusive or to create distance from the locals; it is a
       safety driven choice.

      We Americans are “do” driven. Many of our host sites are “be” driven.
       Yes, you have been asked to come and help in an ongoing work. But, you
       just might not be working hard for 20 hours each day. When we get back
       from a trip, people will ask, “So, what did you do?” Many times, when
       people from countries outside the U.S. return, they are asked, “So, who did
       you meet?” Consider the difference.

You will be tempted to question the value of what you and your team are doing.
It can be easy to feel that “hanging out” isn’t why all those people sent you
money. Remember, you are guests and they have asked you to come. They will
be using you in their cultural context. Enjoy the time, consider your frustration,
use it as a time to shed some of the North American lenses. Be a supportive,
positive, and encouraging member of the team no matter how busy or not-busy
you are. Busy doesn’t automatically mean it’s a great trip.
                      Returning From a Mission Trip
Everyone has a different reaction to coming home from a trip like this. The
important thing to keep in mind is not to over-react, especially in the first few
days and weeks. Readjusting to time zones, home, parents, friends and the
United States can be challenging. Here are a few things to help in that
adjustment process.

Week One
Adjusting to the new time zone…expect

Fatigue. You have just had an intense experience, physically, mentally spiritually
and emotionally. Additionally, you have the normal wear and tear of travel (jet-
lag, time change, etc). Don’t be surprised if you are very tired.

Weird sleep patterns. The time change will mess you up. The rule of thumb is to
give yourself at least one day for every hour of difference from the time zone you
came from.

What to do: Drink lots of water. Get in the sun and exercise. Avoid caffeine and
sugar drinks. Eat the meals that are with the time zone you are now in, and avoid
eating a lot in between meals. One herbal supplement is available that many
have said is helpful: Melatonin. Try not to sleep during the day.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and are wide awake, don’t torture
yourself by lying in bed. Get up and read or watch TV. Give yourself some time
and then try and go back to sleep.

Week Two (maybe sooner) and beyond
Adjusting to being back…expect reverse culture shock.

Frustration. Everyone is different, but the reality of transitioning from being
with your team in an emerging nation to being back in the US by yourself is very
difficult. You might feel isolated, and that no one fully understands what you
experienced.

Overwhelmed. Still realizing that all of us are different, we need to be prepared
that a seemingly “normal” thing like a trip to the grocery store or the mall can,
out of no where, become overwhelming and ridiculous.

Spiritual confusion. The mission setting is usually a spiritually significant time,
with more time than usual spent in prayer and reflection on our relationship with
God. At home, that spiritual momentum can sometime come in conflict with the
everyday routine of the summer job, family, etc.
Anger. On many of our trips, we have come face to face with poverty, injustice,
and people who deal with incredible adversity. Coming back to the US, where life
is “easy” from a materialistic perspective can create feeling of anger.

What to do:

First, realize that the only person you can do anything about is you. You have a
significant amount of processing and contemplating that needs to take place.
Don’t try projecting or expecting your new insights onto those around you. Don’t
preach or teach to your family and friends about how wrong they are…just focus
on yourself.

Talk with someone you trust. But, you will need various versions of your trip: the
30 second version, the 5 minute version and the one hour version. Most people
who ask, “so how was your trip?” want the 30 second version or maybe the 5
minute version. Don’t get mad at them, and certainly don’t pin them down with
the one hour version and pictures, too. Find the one or two people who will take
care of you and listen as you process, let the rest of your friends and family off the
hook.

The important thing is to realize that a certain amount of pain is actually a
newfound awareness of the needs and people that are present in our world.
There is also a sense of discomfort and sometimes guilt in the realization that as
Christians, particularly as North American Christians many of us are not engaged
in trying to figure out what it means to be active in our world.

As a general rule, the quicker you try to alleviate this sense of discomfort, the
worse off you will be. Quick and dangerous solutions include:

Burying. Attempting to forget or compartmentalize your trip allows you to
package it and contain it. Then, it doesn’t have to infect your life, it is just the
photo album on the shelf that can be taken down and put away. This is a true
waste of the opportunity and the eye-opening and “heart-opening” time you had.

Over-reacting. This is an equally dangerous solution is to assume the guilt,
discomfort, and struggle in your post-trip times means you need a radical life
shift. If you are a Nursing major, and then decide two days after your trip that
you need to become a religion major and move to Africa, it could be over-
reacting.

The best way is to give your self time and grace. Listen to your life, to the Lord
and the Word, and to those you trust. Let the months following your trip be a
time of evaluating your passions and where those passions could intersect the
needs you are aware of. It might mean a radical change, but it might not.
Volunteer, seek out internships, and try to live in the process of discovering
where you need to be and what you need to be doing as a follower of Christ.
Don’t let anyone “force” a place of service or a concept of ministry on you. Don’t
form an “ideal” way of living; you might just paint yourself into a corner.

Seek out wise council with professors, family, a pastor, or working professionals.
What we are talking about is finding your place in the ongoing work of the Lord
in this world, not emulating and manufacturing a response to your guilt-ridden
awareness of the world. This process requires listening, patience, endurance,
attempts with success and failure, a sense of humor, and faith.

Some practical suggestions for coming home:

      Set a financial budget and stick to it, no matter how much or little you
       make. There are some great resources for responsible budgeting. Set
       aside 10% for tithe to your local church, begin to pay off credit card debt,
       set responsible spending limits and habit. If you can, set aside a small
       “offering” to sponsor a child or help with missions (or to pay off your
       LoveWorks trip).

      Set a time budget. See your non-sleeping hours as a stewardship of life
       issue. Don’t go overboard, but consider donating time to a worthy cause.
       Volunteer in the church nursery or teach a Sunday School class, etc. Take
       these concrete steps of service.

      Watch out for signs of depression and anxiety. Struggling with coming
       home is one thing, but it is not helpful to struggle into these issues. If you
       cannot find a center, seek out help from a mental health professional.

      Read, read and read. You will be pleased to know that there are a lot of
       other people who have wrestled with being a global citizen. Below are a
       few books that we recommend, but there are many more.
Suggested reading for follow-up to your trip


The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip Jenkins

ReEntry. Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home by Peter Jordan

Compassion by Henry Nouwen

Serving With Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions With Cultural
Intelligence by David Livermore

The Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster

Heart of Joy…The Transforming Power of Self-Giving by Mother Theresa

The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Challenge of the Disciplined Life…Christian Reflections on Money, Sex and
Power by Richard Foster

Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith

The Upside Down Kingdom by Donald Kraybill

The Global God…Multicultural Evangelical Views of God edited by Aida
Besancon Spencer and William David Spencer

Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald J. Sider

Practicing our Faith by Dorothy C. Bass

				
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