Year after year in Fiji
Bula vinaka from the lovely village of Namuimada!
A village in the north of Fiji's main island, Year 13 has been partnering with Namuimada for 5 years, with leaders Pete and Vini returning every year - so some very strong relationships have been formed!
Being plunged into a village lifestyle where schedules are as fluid as the ocean it sits next to and surrounded by enthusiastic children on a regular basis, was extremely overwhelming for us all.
My experiences have forced me to reflect on how mission works.
I've spent a great deal of time feeling discouraged as I struggled and stressed over the fact that I wasn't have the "conversations" that other members of the team were having, feeling guilty I didn't have the energy to keep up long periods of play with the children, and frustrated that the things I was keen to do others were already doing. In short, I felt like a useless tag-along and was hating it.
A passage that has kept cropping up is 1 Corinthians 12: 12 - 31, where Paul speaks about the Body of Christ and how each of us has a role to play. As I have reflected on this and on the experiences of the past few days, one thing has become very clear:
We are a body.
A team is not more made up of one type of person and one gifting than a body is made up of one part. This means that we are not all going to be fantastic at having the "conversations". We aren't all going to be good at (or able to) stand up the front and give a talk. We aren't all going to have loads of energy and be able to spend hours playing with children. Some people are going to be like me: working away in the background, seeking opportunities to encourage the team members, to care for their needs and to help them do the things they are good at.
And all of those gifts, all of those skills, are crucial to mission.
The mission here would not work without the students who can play with the children. It would not work without the students who can lead up front. It would not work without the students who can sit and have deep Gospel conversations. It would not work without the students who encourage the others.
Having said that, knowing what our role is, is not an excuse to not do the other things. The fact that I am at my best when I'm encouraging the team is no excuse for me to not try talking to the villagers, or teach at kids club, or to play with the kids.
But, more importantly, there are two things that I'm discovering must never be forgotten on mission. If they are forgotten then nothing else matters:
1) We do mission because we are sinners saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, Son of God, and because we know others need to hear this amazing news and have the chance to respond to it.
2) We can only do mission effectively if we acknowledge that we are weak and flawed - and trust that God is going to do His work (sometimes in spite of the things we do).
God is the beginning, middle and end of everything that we do.
God bless you all,
Laura Davison from Kingswood Anglican Church is a Year 13 member of the 2014 mission team in Fiji