“Good” then the awkward silence. You know the one—the one you’ve probably gotten when you ask, “How was your trip?” to a person returning from serving or living overseas.
We know there must be a lot more behind that brief answer, but sometimes we just aren’t sure what else to ask. Since we have three teams of people from The Hallows Church going out to Mexico, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia (as well as another location we cannot disclose publicly for safety purposes) this summer, here are some example questions that can be more fruitful to ask then the standard, “How was it?” These can help our sisters and brothers process their trips afterwards and give us insight into how God is at work around the world.
We had our first summer global engagement team get back from Tijuana, Mexico, last weekend. They partnered with Mexico Caravan Missions (MCM) building one-room homes for families and encouraging workers at the Ninos con Fe orphanage. The team was comprised of seven people ranging from a teenager to an empty-nester, students to small business owners, men and women, first time global-engagement trip takers to seasoned trip takers. Here is a glimpse into who they are and how they answered some of our questions that go beyond “how was your trip?”
Occupation: Full-Time Student at SPU | Economics | Senior
Hobbies/Interest: Hiking, Mixed Martial Arts, spending time with family in Olympia, serving
What was difficult about your trip? Well for me personally, the night before we started our work projects I couldn't sleep at all. I don’t think i slept an hour though we had just finished traveling and I was tired. What was nice about that, though, was that it caused me to not rely on my own strength. I knew my lack of sleep would mean that I would struggle with being tired and irritable. So I asked our team lead, Joshua, to pray for me, and that day went on without a hitch! I had actually forgot I hadn’t slept, and I was able to do what I needed to do and more! It was a neat reminder that God is in control and present and working in the midst of any difficulty that can come from a global engagement trip. That realization actually helped set the tone for the rest of the trip.
How can we be praying for you now that you are home? I realized that often times my prayers would include “give me eyes to see and ears to hear your [God’s] voice” but more recently it has caused me to also pray that God would give me feet to go and actions in addition to faith.
Occupation: Business Consultant
Hobbies/Interest: Reading, politics, cross-stitch, hanging out with friends
What was most impactful about your trip? I think that it was going to another country that is very close to a modern, popular city in the states and realizing that just a couple miles south of that U.S. city, people have so much less and live in a lot of poverty and with a different standard of living. It was humbling to see firsthand the contrast of what I have materially in my life and what others have. Our new friends we made there are happy and make it work with so much less. We built small, one-room houses each day for different families. So small that most people here would be buy them at Home Depot to put their tools or hobbies in but for them they were so thankful because they don’t even have that to live in previously.
I realized I have a lot of excess that I don’t need because of the trip, and it caused me to reconsider what and where I put my resources and worth in. In other words, am I looking to material things or eternal things? Am I investing in disciple-making and people who need help or am I buying another pair of jeans though I already have five.
How can we be praying for the host organizations, your new friends and you? It has also caused me to pray and encourage our church to pray about the opportunity we may have to support the ministries we partnered with to build homes (Mexico Caravan Missions) and to support orphans (Ninos con Fe). They are doing a lot of wonderful work that help children without family or have unsafe family situations. They have brought them into a beautiful facility and faith-based community that is safe and with workers that obviously love the kids and the Lord. They are considering doubling their capacity but have a lot of practical needs that go with building or simply sustaining that like paying bills.
Let us pray whether the Lord wants us to pursue that partnership and continue to help them as a team and as a church family as a whole. That could include possibly taking a future trip down to help them build the additional building. Also, we can pray for the interns with MCM because many are considering giving their lives to go to unreached people groups. Pray they would have courage because there a lot of people groups around the world that have been asking for people to come for years, which I had no idea was a need! It’s actually been heavy on my heart— that there are people groups all around the world wanting someone to come to help share dn show the gospel and yet none has come.
Joshua H. (Team Lead)
Occupation: Contractor, Home Inspector
Hobbies/Interest: Martial arts, reading, formulating the perfect joke
Tell me about the people you met. We met three types of people, mostly: Mexico Caravan Ministries (MCM) staff, volunteers from other parts of the country, and local Mexican citizens. We had the most interaction with the staff from Caravan. These were young men and women, most of which had just graduated from high school, or just graduated from college. Three of the four days we were building were led by women, which really impressed me. They took us to the site, driving the lead vehicle through Tijuana, they laid out the structures and the protocols for building them, and they interacted with the families we were volunteering for. I never had so much responsibility at such a young age, and these volunteers make it look easy.
What did you miss most while you were gone? We didn’t have coffee until the 4th day. Sadly that’s what I missed most, and my MC of course.
How did God change your view of the world? We have a largely unreached world—most of the people on our planet have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I never thought of our faith in those terms before. We are commanded to go out, and to sow the seed of Christ’s love in every people group on the planet, and 2000 years later, we still haven’t done it. The Church needs to get moving. Missions and training up life term missionaries needs to be one of our top priorities.
Other questions that are helpful to find out more about another’s experience serving cross-culturally, as well as to help them process include:
What was your favorite part of your host country?
Tell me about the team you worked with.
What surprised you about the culture?
What do you miss about your host country?
What is most difficult about being back home?
How did God teach you about Himself?
How do you want to remember this experience going forward?
These questions and others can be found on this helpful blog by team.org. For more info on opportunities to engage the nations with the hope of the gospel here in Seattle as well as around the world, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.