I got back from a 10 day work trip with 51 people yesterday, 40 of them high school students. I’ve got four posts for the week reflecting on it.
First off: of course it was bad.
When I stepped off the bus and onto our church parking lot pavement, a parent asked me, “Everything go okay?” I reflexively answered, “No.”
He seemed startled. So I expanded with some guilt about how things are bound to go wrong in a 10 day mission effort involving that many people. On balance, the trip was good–great even: transformative, powerful, encouraging. But some things were off. Hundreds of mosquito bites, too little sleep, arguments, a midnight ER visit.
The power of mission comes from the things that go badly more than the things that go well. The leaders of our trip became experts in arranging restaurant meals from 51 people, and they all went incredibly well, given the challenges. But I doubt our students will carry an impression of those meals as deep as the one made by their unexpected early morning embrace of a student who had to make an unplanned early departure.
Also, if nothing goes badly, what are we learning?