October 8, 2013

Raising Church Walls in Masarura Africa

From Eric and Elizabeth Soard, Missionaries

It is hard to talk about someone else’s experience. It is hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is definitely the case with us and short term mission teams. It has just been a long time since we have been new here. It has been a while since I have had to process something without at least some insight into the culture that produced the response. It has been a while since I had tons of people around me and I didn’t understand a lick of what they were saying. Since it would be a difficult task to talk about the experience that the Northside UMC mission team from Jackson, TN had, I won’t. Instead I will talk about what we loved about having them here.

We loved to see the walls at Masarura UMC being raised. This is a church that started its foundation almost a year ago. This next step has been a long time in coming and it is great that Northside was here to participate.

We loved seeing smiling faces on kids…and adults as they participated in Vacation Bible School at four different churches. It was great to see kids running around, but equally heart warming to see grown men color painting and helping with the kids as they learned Bible stories.

We loved hearing about the new knowledge that people gained through medical seminars where instead of giving out medicine that will be used up in a short time, people were given knowledge of how to do preventative medicine on their own and spend less time and money at the hospital.

Most of all we loved seeing a team come back. This is the second trip for this church and for some of the team members. This type of continuing relationship and the knowledge and friendships it builds means so much to us and how effective the mission team can be in their time here.

We also love how they did what they did. They saw, they listened, they learned, they experienced, they took more memories than pictures, and they started the always necessary and challenging task of processing an intense, cross-cultural experience that is normally at least a little uncomfortable and complex in its abruptness. I know because we talked about it. We talked about how a mission trip is for a week, but when that uncomfortable week can stretch into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into a lifestyle, whether at home or overseas, then we know that we have done something right.

We can’t speak for them, but we can say, “Welcome back, we would love to have you again.”
 Missionary Bios can be found at www.umcmission.org

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