life as we know it

Sunday, February 20, 2011

the question

The question I have been getting asked as Kelly and I prepare for our
time in Ethiopia is, “Are you going on a mission trip?”  So I have
been wondering what that phrase even means anymore.  Is it just a knee
jerk reflex to ask that when someone hears about a trip to Africa?  To
be honest, I don’t think I have ever been on a “mission trip”.  The
first time the Army put me in charge of people I went on a power
trip…I go on a weekly grocery trip to make sure we have all the good
stuff in the house (like cinnamon toast crunch!), but I don’t think I
have ever been traveling somewhere and thought, “I’m on a mission trip
right now!” so I guess when people ask me that I just say no.

But I may just be on a mission.  I am lucky to have Kelly as my bride,
because she often opens my eyes to so many new and exciting things I
never would have experienced without her influence (not to mention
organization).  Part of her huge heart is anchored in Ethiopia as a
result of a trip in 2009 where her “mission” was to provide physical
therapy and training to the government run orphanages.  As a result,
we are back and one of my missions is going to be to immerse myself in
the Ethiopian culture as much as I can.  I want to see where people
live, what they live with and without, understand their customs, and
eat what they eat; with the exception, of course, of raw meat and I
don’t care if it is a delicacy…no thanks.  The people Kelly met seemed
so polite and welcoming that I can’t wait to be around them and share
her experiences.  So mission 1: Get culture without getting worms.

Safety has also been a big question from our friends and family.  They
wonder about more than the raw meat and the sketchy water and turn
their attention to an obvious concern about being American in Eastern
Africa.  Of course we will stick out quite a bit and of course we will
attract attention.  Luckily for us, Kelly has us working with
Ethiopians and Americans that she has worked with before and who have
lived in this country for a long time so that helps to put me at ease
when answering those types of questions.  I am also sure that I will
have my time spent in the infantry in foreign countries in the
forefront of my mind.  As we walk down the street I will be sure to
have my eyes open for anything threatening.  That being said I don’t
want fear to run my mind ragged while I try to enjoy being half way
around the world!  Mission 2: Keep safety in mind with reckless

Another question I want to tackle is the obvious, “will you come back
with a kid?”  The answer is no.  Not unless we can smuggle one out,
which would definitely not help the already strained international
adoption community.  This trip is unrelated to our adoption and
strictly to get some work done.  We will be doing a few shoe
distributions and will be working in the same orphanages Kelly worked
in in 2009.  While we are there we will be checking in on some
projects she started and getting some new things rolling.  We will
likely meet hundreds of kids we want to take home with us and I’m sure
we will fall in love with more than one, but we will have to be tough
and resist the temptation to pack one in our luggage!  While here,
however, I would like to learn as much as I can about where our child
will be coming from so we can let them know when they grow up.  So
while the trip isn’t to take a kid home it will have a lot to do with
learning about the home they are coming from.  Mission 3: Learn about
kiddos without taking one home.

All things considered, I may have to revise my answer a bit when
people ask me if I’m going on a mission trip.  Now I guess I can say,
“Yes. I’m going on several missions during this trip!”  All joking
aside, I feel very blessed to be able to see this part of the world
and from what I hear, there is no better place to see the Gospels
lived out on a day to day basis. Mission 4: Seek God in everything we
do and see in Ethiopia. (Unless God is in the raw meat, in which case
I will hope He finds me in the bottled water/heavily cooked food

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