Here is the deal: You give someone a couple thousand dollars. They book you a cheap flight to stay in below average accommodations. Your pillow is hard and there is no room service or mini bar. They make you work from early in the morning until sometimes late into night. You paint, you build, you serve people you have never met before, and probably will never see again. It uses up a week of your precious vacation time. Who would sign up for this kind of trip?
Here is why 1.5 million Americans go on mission trips each year:
1. Perspective: Have you ever thought you knew what was going on only to find out it was something completely different? Like when you watched the Matrix or Inception for the first time? Life in your corner of the world is not the real world. You can only open your eyes once you have experienced life in different cultures. Mission trips bring an immediate attitude adjustment. Grass has never looked so green, air conditioning has never felt so good, and your bed has never felt so soft. You won't look at that group of day laborers the same way. Your heart will be softened.
2. Joy: You can't imagine the joy and happiness you witness in people who have so little. You see that joy does not come from how much stuff you have, or what kind of car you drive. You will even BRING joy TO others. When is the last time you remember actually bringing joy to another person? To quote my young Peruvian friend Lady Caceres (in her own words), "When the missionaries come to serve here it is incredible because you feel a joy and rain of miracles. It is like an atmosphere full of joy."
3. God: On a short term mission trip you can see exactly how BIG God actually is. See how He spans the globe, and is known and loved by so, so many. See how He changes lives. Bask in the fact that every little thing you do on that trip you are doing for Him. “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’" Read Matthew 25:31-40 in it's entirety to get truly inspired to do for the "least of your brothers." Just for fun google what the bible says about helping the poor :)
4. Fun: It just feels GOOD to help others. You will feel more loved and appreciated than you can imagine. You will have fun painting that house, delivering supplies to the needy or performing that street drama. You will laugh, and shed tears of joy. Most mission trips build in a day just for fun. Whether it be a safari, shopping in the market or other sightseeing, you will experience something new and memorable.
Once you decide you are "in", click here to read Ellyn Hunt's fantastic blog "Opening your Eyes" about "seeing gold." Her perspective is invaluable for short term missionaries :)