Reflecting on the Missionary Experience

paul

by Paul Young

Recently, we’ve been having lots of conversations with folks who are thinking about being a missionary volunteer in Fond Blanc. Since most of our volunteers come during the summer, this winter season is a time when some are reflecting back on a past trip, while others are making plans for a future trip. Many come for a week. Some come to serve for a year or more!

When volunteers come to work with the children of the Fond Blanc orphanage, they often arrive brimming with compassion. We can see it in their faces as they pile off the buses at the orphanage, undeterred by the sights and sounds and smells of Haitian poverty and struggle that they have encountered driving up from the airport. Their eyes cannot hide their desire to pour something of themselves into this little orphan community. There is an air of resolve about them; they will leave this part of the world a little bit better than they found it. But unexpected things often happen when God shows up, and His Presence is always revealed in the compassion of service.

That is God showing up when our response to those in need is to feel a welling up of compassion. Even when words fail us, we know that there is something about giving back and sharing in the burdens of others that brings us into a more right relationship with God. There is some vague sense of moving toward a better balance in God’s creation. We feel renewed by the simple purity of giving back, and we are refreshed even when we are not comfortable. Compassion is a potent fuel.

It is never a bad idea to pattern our responses after what Jesus did, and Jesus was all about the children and the needy. Missionary service trips are a time to devote ourselves to helping those in need. Serving itself is an act of selflessness, of doing for others and often going without something ourselves. When we do without a meal or the comforts of home it raises our sensitivity toward those who do without a lot of things every day.

Most of us go to Fond Blanc to serve the children, but along the way we discover that our own spirits are being spiritually fed as well. When we live so deeply cocooned in the comfort and control of the typical American life, our spiritual senses can become dulled and our appetites overfed. But to feed and nurture a child of typical Haitian poverty can change all of that.

When we find ourselves standing next to a cheerful Haitian child who bathes with a bucket every day and subsists on a diet of rice and beans, what we think of as our “problems” can suddenly seem petty and embarrassingly self-absorbed.  But what we all learn quickly in Haiti is how easily that ugly crust of pampered entitlement shatters in the presence of real world problems. Even a week spent serving in Haiti will re-calibrate our attitudes towards what is, or is not, important. We come home newly dedicated to a humbler, more other-centered perspective on life, and connected at the heart to those wonderful young children who help us make that adjustment.

So we invite you to consider coming down to Fond Blanc for a visit. Reach out to us at info@fondblanc.org to learn more. And if you are one of our Fond Blanc “alumni”, you might be encouraged to know that many of our supporters are already on their third or fourth visit! If you are unable to come, please keep the children of Fond Blanc in your prayers, and of course, we are always grateful for donations.

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