A post-STM heavy sigh

In light of the last blog on the new re-entry book resource, I wanted to post some coming home deep thoughts from a colleague who just returned from a STM trip to the Democratic Republic of The Congo (DRC).

I think you'll benefit from reading this honest commentary on doing mission the short-term way:

"DRC was an interesting trip and as usual highlighted all of the things I both love and hate about the place.

I love the hospitality and generally the whole feel of Africa, I love their singing, no-one can quite sing like the Africans. As usual we visited the prison in Lubumbashi and it just amazes me the way they pick up a metal bar and an old wheel and between that, their clapping and their amazing voices the sound is incredible I could listen all day. I love the way that people can be so full of happiness and joy when they have nothing of the things that we base so much of our happiness on i.e. material possessions!

But the things I hate about Africa are the squalid poverty and the corruption and violence; it so often seems to me that there is so little local effort to make life better. I get so disillusioned when we spend all year frantically raising money and the spend even more money and time to go there and build a hospital and then so many of the locals just stand there all day watching you build but rarely offer to help, there are always exceptions of course. I get disillusioned when I hear of the incredible violence perpetrated there for reasons that I will never understand. So every time I go it’s like I sink into a depression and think what is the point, why bother when everything around is such a mess.

At that point I then have to make an effort and look around at the women and children who have been forced into their circumstances and pick out some faces and say we are here to make “your” life better and if slowly one life and then another can be changed for the better then hopefully one day the country can be changed for the better, and that is the hope I cling onto and the reason I keep going back.

Of course I got sick as a dog for a week, which doesn’t help, but as I was laying in bed feeling awful, I was reading a book about refugees who when they got sick where lying in a makeshift tent in 42 degrees heat, with no toilets, no drugs or anything, so even then I was able to be thankful that at least I had a bed to lie in and antibiotics to make me better and a doctor who kept stopping by to check up on me.

So overall it was both good and bad, by the time the hospital is finished in the next few months it will be state of the art in terms of what was there before and I know it will be such an amazing blessing to those that need it."

Obviously, there are ups and downs involved with STM. Some say coming home is harder than going in the first place. The injustice, corruption, poverty, and disease you can witness while on mission can be enough to drive you into a dark place inside. Like my friend observed though, if you can help make one person's life better, you're doing your small part in a much bigger picture. Imagine what we could do with 1000s more people doing their small part?