Flash blogs are short posts written to a shared prompt during community discussion time -- with a ten minute time limit. This practice helps us get used to blogging, stay in communication with our followers, and challenge ourselves to not overthink how we share with the world. See each YAV's response to this shared prompt below!
PROMPT: According to the PCUSA, you are in Mission service. What does that mean to you?
During orientation as we talked about serving during our YAV year, we had a day where we unpacked the word mission and that definition, what it has meant in the past and started thinking through what it means to us. That was one of the last days after a pretty heavy week of orientation, so I don’t really remember exactly what we talked about. I know we talked about mission briefly, but I am pretty far from knowing what I think “mission” service means. During that day we did talk about the fact that something about the word mission may make us feel icky or like it doesn’t really describe what we are doing.
For me I think it’s easier to think about the word service, and say I’m doing a service year. I’m using my gifts and strengths, and growing in my weaknesses as I serve others. One thing during orientation that continued to stick with me was a story our YAV coordinator Richard told us one of the first days. When he served one in his YAV year, I believe a bishop from his host country told him a very humbling and powerful message. As I paraphrase, Richard was told something along the lines that the people you have come to help, do not need you, they have been working and serving one another for many years before you and they will continue their work many years after you are gone. You are wanted, you have been invited, but you are not NEEDED. Richard reminded us this throughout our week of orientation. That has been something I have continued to hold in my thoughts during this year of service. For me service means being invited and welcomed into community to accept the many blessings, that are in the community that is allowing me to grow my different gifts of service.
have struggled a lot with what it means to “do mission”. For most of my life, mission has been broadcasted and labeled as a very damaging thing- damaging a culture, boosting a white narrative/ ego, self servicing rather than uplifting of a community as it is meant to be. But last year, working in a retirement community in Asheville, hearing stories from past missionaries and their experiences, I began to realize the most important lesson- mission service is what you make of it (like all things in life, this too is soley based on what you do with the knowledge you have and how you share it (which is what makes writing blog posts scary and also why I will be doing “yadvocate” training next week).
At orientation, we were warned all too well about the dangers of “white savior complex” and even for me, that experience being over a year ago” I still hear the warnings and remember the message. most of last year I was scared to ever post a picture or share my experience for fear of getting the wrong attention on social media- this year on the border is so much worse. Its hard to talk, share, and “promote” this year of learning and experiencing immigration- without that fear of “white savior”.
For me- mission, is accepting that God is calling you to a place for a purpose and accepting that that purpose is not what you may have thought or intended. That sometimes its hard and although you thought you were ready for the challenge and wanted more of it in your life- you had no idea what you were signing up for. Mission for me, means showing up in those hard times and learning how (as a seven) to admit when they’re awful but knowing that its okay and it may or may not get better— that’s also okay. Mission, is taking the leap and diving into the unknown with fear and uncertainty of what comes next– but also open to the possibilities of what can happen.
Being “In Mission Service” feels weird to me. What does that even mean?
It makes me feel uncomfy because I think of the harm that people with the title “missionary” have done in the past and are continuing to do. There is a lot of oppression, killing, and erasing of culture that has come in the form of what has been called mission work.
I am not in Tucson to do any of that though because of all of that is horrible and part of the horrible narrative of white supremacy. But that brings up the question of why am I here at all?
I am here to learn, grow, and change. I am here to serve others. I am here to show love and build relationships.
I don’t consider that to be mission work. But also, isn’t that kind of the definition of mission work?
Being “in mission service” to me is just showing up for people. I do that by showing up to repair houses with CHRPA. I have shown up to events around the city to support other groups doing good work.
But in all of this I am learning so much, which is part of why I feel weird calling it mission work. But I think that is ok.
Mission service to me is serving others and learning from them. I don’t know how to best serve people unless I first listen to what they need. That is mission to me.