Friday, April 8, 2016

Week 28: Mission Trips: why do the kids refuse to leave your side? (Translating, part 2)

This might just be me, but have you ever gone on a mission trip and noticed that whenever your group went to a school, an orphanage, or any place with tons of kids, they would always swarm around y’all right after you got off the bus and never leave your side? Usually, we think of them as the nicest kids, we love the attention that they give us, and we get some pretty cute pictures in the midst of all that. But have you ever wondered why that happens?

I’m definitely not an expert on this situation, but I had that happen to me this past week. I had been translating the whole week, helping with VBS and door-to-door evangelism, but I didn’t experience this concept fully until we went to a school one day to play sports. Our bus stopped, the Americans came out, and the kids started running towards us. Throughout the whole time we were there, I had at least five kids trying to hold my hand at once. I’d be playing with some kids and needing to go translate for someone else, and what do you know, the swarm of kids would follow me. To be honest, I really wanted to change my skin color at that time. My personal space bubble was broken and I couldn’t find a way out. That’s another difference between the DR’s culture and the State’s culture: Americans like more personal space. Sometimes I wonder if our obsession with personal space is because it’s super hard for us to truly be real and let people into our lives…

ANYWAYS, as I was struggling to give piggy back rides, lose some kids while I was walking around, and translating for the group, I noticed that every single American had a group of ten or so kids around them. The Dominican translators had to free me and the other Americans from the kids when we needed to get back on the bus. Why do you think that happens? From my personal experience, I think that I can conclude at least two reasons why…

1.      You’re an American: I’m sorry to tell you that these kids are not that nice and as welcoming to their fellow Dominicans (or insert their native nationality here) as they are to you. You’re something new, something different to them. A rare form of species called Americans, the ones who have all the money and have the good life (in their eyes, at least). They may want to play with your hair or play sports with you because they get to say that they interacted with you. I heard the kids that I was working with talking about “their American” that they were hanging out with, kind of like an object that someone could claim. I’m not trying to burst your bubble and I know that not every kid is like this, but it is definitely good to know and be aware.

2.      They want to feel loved: Because you are aware now, you should know that these kids have such a high view of you, without even knowing who you are, and you have a lot of influence over them. With great power, though, comes great responsibility. These kids don’t even know who you are, yet all they want to do is see that you care for them. The kids hug you and want to hang out with you because they love you. As an American going on missions, you have been given a great deal of influence. Make sure you use it wisely. Care for them and love them, knowing that they are human, too. Show Christ’s love for them and show them how much they mean to you.

Isn’t that what we all want, though? To feel different and special, like the most important person in the world cares about us and knows us personally? In this world, we have desires. I’ve never heard of anyone who desired something that wasn’t possible to fill; we have desires because there’s always something that fills that desire. We desire food because there is food in this world. We desire learning because there’s always something new to learn. Maybe we desire to feel special, like someone cares about us more than we can imagine, because such a person exists. Maybe we desire for there to be a God, because there actually is one.

-          This is my second week translating, and I have learned a lot. My ability to speak Spanish has grown, and I was blessed this week to share/translate the Gospel every single day.
-          I was blessed to have worked with wonderful translators and have had really good groups this week to talk to and get to know.

Prayer Requests
-          I’m still working on trying to find a way to keep up my Spanish when I go back to the States. Please pray that God shows me a good opportunity to do just that! I’m praying that it involves some sort of ministry.
-          We have about two weeks left of classes, and then finals are coming up! Pray for endurance for all the students, for the teachers (and students!) that are teaching us this week, and for our hearts, that we will all be open to what the Lord is trying to show us.

-          Next week, I will be teaching Bible Study for the interns at SCORE regarding the spiritual discipline of fasting. Pray that I can prepare well and that the Lord speaks through me during this time.