Into Africa

In the last month several friends of mine have visited Africa for relief and rebuilding efforts on missions trips. Being raised Catholic, of course we had our causes that we pursued. We collected money in little boxes that looked like milk cartons for children in other parts of the world who needed our nickels and dimes to buy, well, milk I suppose.

We heard about Catholic missionaries in third world countries (yes, there ARE Catholic missionaries…it’s true.) I do not think the term was heard as often in 12 years of Catholic school however as the number of times I have heard it since leaving the Catholic church to visit the protestant side of the religious fence. While I tend to not be overly “evangelical” in my approach to my faith I LOVE the thought of materialistic Christian americans dedicating their time and money to go to Africa or Honduras, etc. and building schoolhouses, digging wells and playing with children who so dearly treasure this time.

I suppose growing up Catholic I always thought of missionaries as foreign nuns or priests who would come to our parish once or twice a year and give the Homily in broken english. I felt so removed from the reality of the world outside of my own street, my own parish, my own bedroom. It just did not occur to me that “lay people” would visit and serve in missionary roles.

When I began to know more evangelical protestant types I would hear about how the other half lived and subsequently about these “missions trips.” I had always shunned the “evangelical” part of the trips, the Christian speak built into the concept because it seems to me that to exist as a follower of Christ means that it is EXPECTED that I would serve the poor…not that I would serve them so that they might be “saved.” I confess that in recent years I have tagged far too many people with my unfair and unfounded judgement that somehow they were more interested in putting another “believer” feather in their cap than building the literal bridge that was much needed in order for these people to actually LIVE. I know now that I was wrong to be so judgemental, especially when I have never served the poor in this way myself. (Not yet…at least)

Now, as a grown up; a materialistic consumer Christian living on the edges of the organized church system I look at my friends who take these missions trips with a sense of awe and wonder. I look at them that way because I see them as such a gift to the people they serve and such a gift to me in the process. It makes me want to go and do this so badly. It’s difficult, though, at this point in my life to even think about how I can take a trip such as this…my children being so small, my husband travelling as much as he does, being untethered to the modern version of “church,” these things all seem to work against my going to Africa to serve.

I desperately want to take my children there, to see what life in the world is like, to help them know how selfish we all tend to be, to put it on their radar, to put it on MY radar…because with the music lessons, the gymnastics, the scrapbooking nights and all of our “commitments” as a typical american family it’s the first thing to fall OFF the list of important things to consider.

So, this post, as long as it is…really began as this thought when I read about my friends’ return from Africa…the thought was simply, “Thank you. Thank you for serving the poor. Thank you for placing this back on my radar. Thank you for doing something that I have not done but desperately needs doing. Thank you for going to Africa.”

I’ll leave you with a couple of organizations I like a whole lot….feel free to add your own in the comments….maybe someone else’s radar needs updating:
blood:water mission
spark ventures

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6 thoughts on “Into Africa

  1. I remember several years ago, I had the same longings,
    My son in law had made many trips to Haiti, His stories of how the children would share one small piece of candy (like a mint) with another and be so grateful for the smallest things that we take for granted. Some old friends spent their vacations going on Mission trips and shared their experiences.

    You have brought back the feelings I experienced then. Somewhere between guilt for all my blessings in comparison with what some go through just trying to survive, and wishing I could participate in the experience of being there to bless and be blessed.
    Thank you for the links. I like Jars of Clay music. I will bookmark the sites.

    MsPink, glad it’s on your radar…lol.
    Yeah, those Jars guys are talented fellows. They have a Christmas CD out now, highly recommended! Check it out if you have a chance http://www.jarsofclay.com
    Mrs M

  2. I grew up Catholic as well, and we had those same milk cartons! We had to spend time at local food pantries so I also learned that charity begins at home.

    My kids volunteer at a soup kitchen, and we do fundrasiers, food drives, coat drives etc.. that helps people at home too.

    Mother Theresa was always emphatic that we should get out there in our communities and help those where we live as well.

    Nice article Mrs.!

    Thanks PPPJ…everyone…say that out loud, PPPJ…it’s fun. It’s even fun to write…pppj pppj pppj
    Mrs M

  3. My dd goes to a catholic school and the entire school body works on various projects which starts in September and lasts right until the end of June. Each month they have a certain project. In October it was for sock, hats, scarves and warm clothing. In November they will do more than one, it will be for personal hygiene items, used uniform articles to go to mission schools in various parts of the world. In December we do food drives for underprivileged families and the needy. We also do a toy drive for kids.

    I also try to instill in my dd that she has to give things to the less fortunate, and that she is extremely lucky to have toys to play with a warm place to sleep and people who love her. We always try to donate to our local christmas fund Santas Anonymous so everyone gets something for Christmas. But most importantly I try to teach her it is not just at Christmas that these good deeds are done it is all year round. I find it sad today in our world that the marginalised are forgotten and not given a helping hand by those would could.

    So if you live in a place that is cold, dig out your old coats and donate them, kids are in need of warm clothing, their parents may not be able to afford something warm.

    An excellent suggestion, HH. I had a good friend a couple of years ago that collected the coats and then drove around Chicago in mid winter and handed them out personally. She is one amazing woman.
    Mrs M

  4. I tried saying something deep and profound last night. I’m still dry. It’s a noble aspiration to want to go into the missions field. It’s also a noble aspiration to raise a brood of well-balanced, good-spirited kidlettes. Either way, as I look at it, you take a great leap of faith! lol

    Hey there Beefy…it is indeed time well spent….Noble Currency as I would say. Thanks for coming by today. I’ll have fresh baked cookies tomorrow.
    Mrs M

  5. I think it is wonderful that people go and do mission work and brave the toughest of conditions, it makes me think the world is capable of goodness. I think that you don’t necessarily need to travel the world to good works and acts of unconditional giving. I think if you look in your own backyard you can do good at home as well, sometimes starting there will have a far reaching effect. If you look all around the world there are areas of despair. I see it on the face of every homeless person that sits on a street corner, I see it on the face of children who have run away or are abused, I see it on the faces of the elderly who have been forgotten and no one seems to remember that they built the country that I consider safe. I see it on the face of the single mother who is trying desparately to feed her kids. If you stop take a moment look around you will see things that need your attention whether it is at home or in different parts of the world. You can be just as much a moving giving dynamic force just by the act of doing. You can be selfless and helpful by taking a moment and trying to make a difference. Sometimes we a missionaries, but don’t even realize it. If you do something even so small that you think it is insignificant, it may have the ripple effect to change the world. I think the biggest thing we can do is hope and pray, pray for those who need us the most, pray for each other. If you aren’t into prayer sit thoughtfully and quiet and just think about things and what you can do to. You have to decide what your leap of faith is going to be, whether it is helping someone who is homeless or making an elderly person know they are not forgotten. These are tangible things that do change our world in big ways, even though the measure may seem small to you. Just think if you help someone less fortunate you may have given a chance to someone who is the next peacekeeper or brilliant mind that may go on to discover cures for disease or change the world in which we live.

    Howdy HH…this is an awesome point. It tends to dispel the “well, I CAN’T go to Africa so blah blah blah” part of me and that’s a very good thing. Always good to ‘see’ you, babe.
    -Mrs M

  6. Right back at ya Mrs! Good to see you too! I think I might be visiting your little bloggy more often, it feels like a comfy pair of slippers!

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