Do missions trips provide lasting change?
December 6th, 2011
I just returned from Haiti after 5 days doing video production work for an amazing organization, KORE Foundation. This year I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and Haiti, seeing extremely rough conditions and unimaginable poverty. With each trip, I get a jolt of reality. While it’s not my reality, I’m faced with the reality that the majority of the world doesn’t know my life. The stats are staggering and we’ve all heard them:
- 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
- Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- The average Haitian eats only one meal a day, meaning many do not eat.
- 70% of Haitians do not have electricity.
- 90% of Haitians do not have running water.
- 80% of Haitians lack adequate sanitation.
But as big as the numbers are, the statistics are hard to grasp. We don’t see it, so we can’t believe it. It isn’t until I see it firsthand as I did this week. I don’t get it until I see a child in an orphanage pumping water from a shallow, contaminated well and drinking water that is so dark you can’t see through it. When I hold an orphan who is very sick and has been lying alone for hours on a piece of plywood that is his bed. With no medicine available, no parents to rush him to the ER, he is alone. When I hold that child, I really get the statistic of 147 million orphans in the world. The one face makes the statistic real.
I’ve had these experiences numerous times in life. I come home and I hold my kids close. I give a little extra to my favorite causes. I am truly grateful for what I have. But inevitably, life takes over and I forget. I start to think about the things I want. I feel sorry for myself when I don’t have “enough.” I lose perspective.
I’m always grateful to have a fresh dose of a new reality. But I don’t want to lose it. I want to model for my children what it means to live a selfless life. I want to be grateful that I live a reality that most people will never experience.
How do you keep a perspective of gratitude when the world we live in fights to draw us back to selfishness and entitlement?