Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mixed Blessing

“A picture is worth a thousand words, an experience is worth a thousand pictures.” Our mission sometimes uses this quote to encourage short-term missions. Another quote only whispered jokingly among those of us behind the scenes is that “All work teams are a blessing – some in their coming, and some in their leaving.”
Most of our teams have been enormous blessings to us personally, but today I share a story about one individual who was a mixed blessing. Maybe you can appreciate the ironic humor of this scene involving the poor housing coordinator of the mission base and some short-term "helpers."
A group had just arrived from an American church to minister in Guatemala for the week. One lady in particular was making demands, grumbling complaints, and firing questions at my friend Kala, who had the misfortune to be the temporary hostess at the time.
"Isn't there some other bathroom we could use? Borrow? RENT? This is absurd! Surely you can't expect all six of us to share one bathroom! And the beds... really - bunk beds for adults? You've got to be kidding... and isn't there a single box of Kleenex in this apartment?" On and on she ranted.

Kala was doing her best to conceal her exasperation with this in-your-face guest. While she was on one of her many errands, attempting to please the newcomer as much as humanly possible, I tried to calmly distract the lady with small talk: "So, what do you hope to do while you're in Guatemala?"
Instantly the furrowed brows were replaced with a saccharine sweet expression, and her tone softened to almost a whisper as she righteously declared,
"Oh, I'm just here to b-less and encourage the missionaries!"
How often have I done the same thing - attempted some worthwhile task in my own strength, on my own terms, and in the process totally sabotaged the effort? By not relying on the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, my results are no godlier than those of the snarky woman who unwittingly ran ragged the very one she came to "b-less."
With my limited energy in the wake of Dengue (are you sick of hearing about this now?), I’m finding I can do much less in my own strength, but maybe that’s a good thing.
IRL*In my weakness, He is strong.


  1. The prayer that wells up within my heart as I read your post, "Father may I truly be a blessing!! In Your strength help my intentions by Yours, my motivations be Yours, my actions be Yours and my heart be fully and completely Yours. I need You today to truly love my kids, my husband, my team, my neighbors---not in just word, but in heart and in deed!" Thanks for the post.

  2. Amen! I just prayed that, too. Thanks.

  3. We deal with "short-term" missionaries as well (here in Guatemala) and I know exactly what your friend Kala went through. Once in a while we get newcomers and they truly are a blessing to us and the people of Guatemala. One thing I would love for any "short-term" missionary to do is to come with a giving spirit, not complaining about anything and do whatever is asked of you. =)

  4. Our current organization seems to train short-termers to come with a servant's heart, and most of them are very flexible - almost enjoying the inconveniences that force them beyond their comfort. But like you say, "every once in a while..."

  5. One more great post, Jamie Jo. Many of us can relate to having "help" like the short-termer you describe. But I've rarely thought of how I do the same thing, attempting "worthwhile tasks in my own strength, on my own terms."

    After the day I've had, this is great encouragement to rest in the power of the Holy Spirit.

  6. Thanks for reminding us to not do anything in our own strength! Trying takes too much effort and provides far from ideal results. Been there done that, way too many times.

  7. I just had two back to back short term teams, and they could not have been more different in their serving spirit. One was tough...the other a pure joy. SO i know how you feel. And ALSO I suffered DENGUE in 2006 and ended up in a Paris hospital and it took months for my muscles to recover. I pray yours was a lot less painful than mine and that you are recovering!


  8. Wonderful post. My family will never forget some our positive short term guests and are still trying to forget the others. Sad that some come so far and spend so much of God's money to b-less the poor missionaries! I guess it's our job to be patient and teach as much as we can about real blessings!

  9. Then there are some you chose not to forget because those are the ones that help you through the "tough" ones you have. You can always tell yourself, "At least they aren't as bad as _______!", and you end up smiling.

    And on the flip side, I wonder what they say about us? "You should have seen that crazy family I stayed with on that trip......."


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