The first part of a mission trip is the preparation. Questions are asked. Can I get time off work? How will I pay for this? Who is going with me? Why are we going? Is this a justifiable effort? What do I need to know?
I have always wanted to go “overseas” on a mission trip. As many of you know, “our” mission has been the LAUNCH Christian Singles. We have attended and been involved at the Spiritual Growth Workshop in Orlando since 2000. Anthony Fischetto and I taught 4 years at the Pepperdine Bible Lectureships in Malibu, CA . Singles retreats and conferences from Florida to Pennsylvania to Tennessee to California took most of our spare time and money and while we supported the mission work abroad with prayer and a little money, I had stayed in the good ole U. S. A.
I was asked to go to Lithuania several years ago and couldn’t but this past August when asked I said “yes”. Part of the decision making was related to a good job with liberal paid time off. In other words, I will be paid while out of the country so the bills don’t add up. Another part is having a supportive wife who said “ok”. And a teenage daughter to share the adventure with. T0 top it all off with an obvious need in Lithuania and an opportunity to make a difference.
Research has been important. I have enjoyed learning of Vilnius and the surrounding countryside. I see a beautiful lake and cabins in the woods. I learned of the hope of being free to worship but also learned of the frustration of many. Lithuania has a very high suicide rate. Many have not prospered with liberty. But with the struggles also comes new beginnings. Knowing that we are to teach children of the first generation in a post USSR country is intriguing. We literally are working with blank pages. No debates over old songs or new songs, hand clapping or music, preacher school vs. university….We get to teach Jesus!
Fundraising has been difficult. I have not asked for support in Singles Ministry and have been content to write off any losses with my income tax. Our home congregation has new ministers and took on a mission trip to Africa, sponsored by the youth group. We were asked to raise most of our money from outside sources. So I had to ask friends and family. Some have been very generous. We are thankful. Several are involved in their own missions and again we are thankful and pray for their success. Some cannot financially support us but have been encouragers and have prayed for our effort. We thank them. Unfortunately, some friends and family have either ignored us or stepped an extra step away from our effort. To say that this is disappointing is an understatement. And a few have been deliberately hurtful. The summary of the fundraising effort is that we have raised “just enough” to pay for plane tickets and whatever is necessary. We are blessed! God is good!
Whatever your stance is on foreign missions, rest assured that Jessica (my fifteen year old) and I will be good, hard workers and are honored to share the love of Jesus with the kids at Ruta Christian Camp. We will enjoy the adventure of travel, of making new friends and sharing this adventure with church family. We will use what we learn and be better servants when we return to our home. And we will be thankful!