Along with a team of Cru students and staff, I spent the last month in Pretoria, South Africa working with the Mamelodi Initiative, an educational enrichment program serving middle and high school students. I initially thought that going on a summer mission would lead to an intense spiritual high and when I failed to experience that during my first two weeks, I became disappointed and unsure of what God was doing in my heart.
I thought that I would be ecstatic every day to go into Mamelodi and have unending energy to love the kids, love my team, and spend time with God. In reality, I was often confused and frustrated being in a new culture as well as being with a team of Americans I had just met. I had a hard time adjusting to a new social circle and my role in that group. Not only were we busy with "program" during the day, we came home to lesson planning, Bible study, team meetings, and the desire to spend time in fellowship with one another.
I was often exhausted, a feeling I am guaranteed to feel in a few months as I move to Washington, DC to work as a technology analyst for Accenture. Most students go on a summer mission during their time in college and learn so much that will apply to the rest of their time at college. Even though I will not return to college in the fall, having just graduated, I have learned so much that I see helping me in the future. For me this trip resembled what real life will look like in a lot of ways – having commitments to a job during the day as well as responsibilities and social commitments after work.
Not only did it resemble real life, it depicted what full time missions could look life if God were to call me there. This summer mission is unique in the nature of the ministry we do and so special in what it teaches us.
After recognizing that God was at work in my life despite what I had expected, I began to learn so much. I learned about fitting into a new social circle, not being discouraged that building deep relationships is initially uncomfortable and takes time. I learned to always have more patience, love, and grace for the people around me, Americans and South Africans, peers and students.
One of my biggest take aways is the development of good spiritual disciplines that will sustain my faith through my every day life, something I found much more enduring than a spiritual high that would soon end. I learned that like my work with the Mamelodi Initiative, I am called to treat my time in the workplace as a missions field. Every project I am staffed on with new coworkers and clients is a new chance for me to share God’s love and the gospel.
This summer mission taught me to praise God in all things and I am forever grateful that He called me there.
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