Rachel, Eliza and I are in Orange, Texas today. We are doing our “pre-trip;” visiting the Church and town where we will be staying for a week of CTCYM Mission Trip work next month.
This will be my 12th consecutive summer on at least one CTCYM trip. I have enjoyed being a part of this great organization for these years, and have served at almost every level of leadership possible.
Literally thousands of youth and adults have found their own lives changed by making this effort to give a week to help (maybe change) someone else’s life.
Over the past few years I have been feeling more and more like there is something lacking at the base of this kind of experience. The fact that we travel to someplace else to serve gets to me. The fact that we sometimes interact very little with our clients also concerns me. Both these factors help us to continue to think that helping others is still something we “go do” rather than a part of who we are.
That we can offer help by, in effect, swooping in, working for 1-5 days, and swoop back out, never again to have any contact causes the greatest concern for me, though. Service and valuable, worthwhile help though this is, it allows space for us to maintain that comfort of separation and distance that lets us go on being us and them go on being them.
The truly incarnational aspect of these trips is when we who go to serve connect in a meaningful enough way that we and they are changed to see that we are all we. The opportunity to experience this level of being is available on each and every CTCYM trip.
As Program Director for the Orange Living Center, I am making it one of my goals this summer to focus on offering this kind of connection. I am open to suggestions.