Last night we returned from spending 6 days away on a mission trip. Actually, it was only 4 days in Broken Hill and a day either side travelling by car and 12 seater buses. Broken Hill is in outback New South Wales, Australia. There is a large indigenous population in and around Broken Hill, which was founded on mining largely for silver, but also gold, tin and lead. We went as part of a team of 26, 14 from our church and 9 adults and 3 children from Youth With A Mission. Our goal in going was mostly to make friends, and from that, to serve the local indigenous community and to learn from them.
Parents – if you have never been as a family on a mission trip, something like this is a great place to start. It is relatively cheap financially as it is within our own country and no expensive plane fares. It is manageable time wise as confined to a week. It has unbelievable long term benefits in helping your kids realise that diverse people live in our country and that they can help others in a multitude of ways. It also helps your kids draw closer to God as it intentionally puts them out of their comfort zone. When we are out of our comfort zone, our real character is displayed and we can learn a lot about ourselves.
My kids love going on mission trips and they learn so much, not only from those we go to serve, but from the rest of the team members. Their faith becomes real as they have to live it out away from home and the normality of life. They learn about living in community and coping with other people who have different values to themselves. Princess (12) volunteered along with Eliza, the team leader’s daughter (11) to do the daily devotions for the team and this was a stretching time for them. They also shared in helping to run a children’s program. Together with cleaning, weeding and gardening, they also made new friends. Princess and Eliza slept in a bedroom with myself and a young woman in her 20’s. This trendy young woman had an incredibly positive impact on them during the week, just in the little discussions that occurred each day going to bed, cleaning the toilets, and living together. Princess also mixed with the four older teenage girls and hubby noticed at church yesterday that she gravitated toward them after morning church and then sat with them during night church, something she would not have contemplated before. Matey (9) loved the outback and all it offers. The campfire would be one of his favourite experiences, together with helping to build a raised platform to cover masses of microphone leads in the local church. Matey commented on the way home that he had grown closer to God and learnt more about God over the few days we were away.
I love connecting with folk and hearing their story. It certainly broadens my thinking and helps with my understanding of a different culture. We met two different families who unpacked some of their culture and lifestyle and family history with me, and this helped me in my understanding of why they act and relate as they do. I find it so much easier to understand why people act the way they do when I understand they way they grew up and the struggles they have had along the way. These folk were real thinkers and have processed a lot of issues and this helped me get a handle on the various problems that our young people have.
This trip was to build friendships with people we would never get to relate to normally. Unfortunately on this trip, due to time restraints, we weren’t able to get to go out to some of the surrounding indigenous communities.
When we go on trips like this, we create memories that we can look back on. There is power in great memories, in bonding over remembering. I feel it also helps create resilience in my kids – courage to persevere and keep going when experiencing something different and by intentionally placing them out of their comfort zone. There are also a handful of kids in Broken Hill that we have spent time with that we can now pray for personally.
Parents – are there other ways already surrounding you that you can achieve some of this on a smaller scale? Tomorrow evening, during school holidays, we are going to St. Kilda to help the YWAM’ers give a hot meal to homeless people and street workers. Princess will also bake some slices to take. Apparently it is best to wrap the individual slices in glad wrap as the folk will take a handful each and stuff them in their pockets for later. We are also going to clean out our bathroom cabinet of all the toiletries collected from hotels eg mini soaps and shampoos and conditioners. Apparently these are a great size for the folk to be able to carry easily and they appreciate receiving them. No doubt this short visit tomorrow night, lasting only a couple of hours, will raise a myriad of questions. I am well aware that the kids will see some things they have never seen before. I am hoping that the visit will have a lasting impact, far longer than the two hours we are there.
Matey has begun a project called “2 pairs each”. (There is a Facebook page he has created – 2 pairs each. The website is coming….eventually.) He is endeavouring to collect 50,000 pairs of socks so that every one of the 23,000 homeless people in Victoria will have at least 2 pairs of socks each. Thus, when they wash one pair, they can put the other pair on and keep their feet warm and clean. Matey currently has 16 pairs of brand new warm socks to give away tomorrow evening.
Parents – how are you intentionally broadening your children’s experience of people who are different to them, and intentionally placing them in challenging situations? I would love to hear what you are doing? Please comment below to let me know. Together, we can help each other raise our children to be world changers.