Changing My Mind About Missions- September 14, 2012

The second week of classes came to an end today. Carlos, one of the church members, came out to see the school for the first time since the school was opened. He was over joyed to see the school and talk with the parents about their experience with the school. On the way home, I began to think about the past few weeks since the school has opened. Since August, I have been reading  “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor ….and Yourself” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. It is a great book on understanding mission. One of the key components of doing mission is to look for the resources that already lie within the community. I have taken to heart this lesson, especially when we opened the school. During the first week of school, I blogged about how amazing it was to see the community take ownership of the school and of the property. The moms are joyful their kids have a school to go to and the dads are thankful for us loving on their kids. Even people who do not have kids in the school make sure we know that they are thankful and available to help.

One thing today I noticed as I talked with Mommi about the school, was that my mind has changed. When I began doing mission work here four years ago, I came looking for poverty. I noticed kids without shoes, runny noses, and houses without floors. I instantly wanted to help and respond. As time passed and we still had not “completed” any of the projects we had hoped for, I realized how important the spiritual work we were doing was in the community. I decided then that even if we never “completed” a project, we were still working. Hope was another valuable tool we worked to provide beyond the projects. With hope, we felt anything was possible. Today, my purpose has changed once again. For the first time, I have begun looking for the blessings that lie within the community. They may be hidden or unused, but they are there. You just have to look for them.

It makes sense. Why wouldn’t some one take something free if it was being passed out? Why would someone want to be around peoplethat look at them like they are poor and treat them as if they have nothing? I honestly feel like things changed when I told the moms that they are not poor! That they have gifts and talents that I want to learn and know about and use to help them better their community. When you treat someone as though, they are of value, suddenly they are valuable. The dads are around more often as well. We know they are working hard for their families and we appreciate them. We have expressed how important their role is in the school and they are eager to be apart of the program.

In the past two weeks, the families do not have any more material possession or  money per month, but I see a difference in worth. I counsel people all the time on changing their point of view, their glasses, on how they see their world. I always said the world around you is what you make it. If you want to see hardship, you will find it. But if you want to see the blessings, change your glasses and look for it. I never thought to apply this concept to mission. We advertise mission projects as coming to help the poor, what if we advertise it as coming to be in community with people. The people of Cuesta Arena have so much to offer their community. They do not need us to change anything but to empower them to step up. We search for values within each family, which can only be done through relationships. You will never see the worth of someone if you are fixated on shoeless children and dirt floors. Instead, see them as a creation of God, for a purpose!! So the question is, what do you choose to see?

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