The Importance of Short Term Missions

I have a bad habit of assuming that everything I learn or believe ought to be applied to everyone everywhere all the time.  So because my life path has taken me from short-term mission trips to long-term immersive experiences (because I am much better suited to long-term relationship-based services), I assume that everyone ought to give up on short-term trips in favor of packing up and living somewhere for at least six months.

But, HEY.  It turns out that the world does NOT revolve around me.  This is both tragic and such a relief.  Part of this realization came from several short-term mission groups we’ve hosted at HD.  

  • Three men came for a day to put together IKEA furniture, clear our yard, and do small house fixes.  They saved us the headache of hiring someone and the money we would have spent to do so.  They also saved us the headache of attempting to put things together ourselves, which would have either led to disaster or at least lost time.
  • Three women came for a day to clean the entire building under the direction of our participants.  This gave our women the chance to be leaders, and everyone got to enjoy a clean building.
  • Two women and two teenage girls came for a week to teach our participants how to make leather bracelets and to help them with individual artistic projects.  They developed friendships with our participants, they gave the staff a much-needed break, and they taught our women a useful skill (making jewelry that will be sold to help our program keep running – they are now contributing members of our team).

Each of these jobs could only really be done by short-term volunteers.  They had the energy and exuberance to throw themselves into tasks that would have annoyed those of us staying here full-time.  They gave us a break (in particular, they gave my brain a break by allowing me to speak with Americans), and they encouraged us with their interest and questions.

I still don’t love going on short-term mission trips myself.  But thankfully, I don’t have to!  The world is a delightfully diverse place, and while I’m going places for longer, others can fill the gaps and participate in week-long service opportunities.  There’s space for all of us!


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