I've been in Fiji for three weeks now and it already feels like way longer. The amount that has happened is unbelievable we've stayed at three different places and met so many amazing people! We spent a couple of weeks at St John's, and were made a part of the family there. Over that time we had four short term mission teams that we spent some time with, two from Sydney diocese in Australia, an International team with Evangelism Explosion and a NZ team from Shirley, Christchurch. It was great to have these teams around and one of the Australian teams ran an EE workshop that we found really interesting and helpful. However, after spending time with the different teams, I was challenged in thinking through the purpose of short term mission, or even mission as a whole. The places we visited often had very little and gave us more than they could provide, and that was the Fijian way to do things. It went as far as a whole fishing village having a public holiday just for our visit.
It’s easy to feel like I’m coming in to show people how things are done. This made me ask: what does it mean to be a Learner and a Servant when we have the privilege to visit these places? Being a Learner-Servant is a key model that we interns have looked at, recognising we do not have more knowledge or skills to give, rather have more to learn and receive when we are welcomed to another’s home. Would we spend more than we could afford when a guest visits our home? How do we appreciate such amazing hospitality and serve those who want to honour us – their guests.
I finally lost it with myself when we at a village we were visiting and meant to be helping we got very publicly referred to as tourists. I realised that's pretty much what we were, and it left me wondering how we were to do anything here in Fiji if that how we're always seen. I spent a few days pretty unsure of things and trying to figure out why Im in Fiji, when one of the St John's staff started giving me jobs to do and joking with me. It gave me a realisation that I was becoming a part of the family there, and to them I was no longer a guest at St John's, I figured that if I belonged there, then I could get to a point where I belonged in Fiji and was no longer a stumbling tourist. As to where short term mission fits in, I had my big uh ha moment when the NZ team were doing their debrief and almost all of them talked about how they could be more missional at home. I figure if a few weeks experiencing another culture on a short term mission trip can change how someone responds to being missional at home then it’s pretty worth it.
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