Shortly after arriving in Greeley I was asked to pray about joining the team of 18 volunteers—serving as the Preacher for the trip. After praying about it and talking with Rhonda, I decided to join the team heading to Guatemala on November 28th—December 6th. I will be doing daily devotions for the team, offering pastoral care to the patients in the clinic, teaching in the VBS, and whatever else they need me to do.
Rhonda and I are so excited about the work that God has called us to do at Journey Christian Church in Greeley, Colorado. The Church is healthy and growing. They have a heart for our community and for the world. In particular, they have been involved for the past few years working with a Medical clinic in Montellano, Guatemala. The clinic has been operated by Health Talents International since 1973.
Besides me, our team consists of an eye surgeon and three family physicians from Greeley, six nurses, four teens and an optical assistant. We also have two interpreters who will be able to help us communicate with the wonderful people of Guatemala. All together we have 19 people from Greeley participating in this medical clinic.
We will be performing eye surgery on approximately 40+ Guatemalan’s who cannot see due to advanced stages of cataracts. These people rely on their vision to work, as most of these Mayan patients work with their hands. Without their vision, they cannot provide for their families.
During our trip we will also help with minor-surgery, eye-glass fitting, medicine distribution, hygiene education, distribution of basic toiletries, conducting a VBS in local villages, and doing our best to keep hundreds of children busy waiting while they, or their parents, wait to see one of our doctors.
I recently read a story in the Washington Post questioning the value of missions trips. In the article, Jacqueline L. Salmon notes, “Critics scornfully call such trips ‘religious tourism’ undertaken by ‘vacationaries.’ Some blunders include a wall built on the children’s soccer field at an orphanage in Brazil that had to be torn down after the visitors left. In Mexico, a church was painted six times during one summer by six different groups. In Ecuador, a church was built but never used because the community said it was not needed.”
She continues by noting, “Research has found that the trips tend to have few long-term effects on the local people or on the mission travelers. Some projects take away work from local people, are unnecessary and sometimes dangerous. ‘I really don’t think that most people are trying to be ugly Americans,’ said Glenn Schwartz, executive director of World Mission Associates and author of ‘When Charity Destroys Dignity.’ ‘But they’re misinformed and don’t realize how their good intentions can go awry.’ Mission groups also often bring their own experts and ignore local authorities on the ground.” (Here’s a link to the rest of the article: Churches Retool Mission Trips)
I’m so excited about this trip, not because we’re leaving the country, but because we’re going to do something that will matter long after we leave.
People who can’t see well today, will–next week at this time–see again because of the work that we are going to do and–hopefully–next week at this time, they’ll be a bunch more people bound for an eternity with Christ.
Talk about positive long-term effects!