We’re continuing to focus on missions in the month of July. We’re still looking for missionaries who would like to be guest bloggers and tell how the Internet has impacted their missions work. Please contact us if you’re interested in writing.
While I have never lived outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, I have done a couple of short-term missions trips. And I can tell you from personal experience, that blogging while on a short-term missions trip can add a whole new dimension to the trip.
My first short-term missions trip was back in May of 2000. A group from my church went to San Jose, Costa Rica to help a church there begin construction on a new education building. We did the back-breaking work of digging out the footer with shovels and tying together grids of rebar in the 90+ degree heat of Costa Rica’s tropical summer. It poured every day right around lunch time, and when the rain let up a bit we’d go back out and keep working.
It was a tremendously rewarding experience though as we worked side-by-side in the trenches with the pastors and members of the church, many of whom had quite meager resources but still took time off work to help.
We stayed in the home of a missionary who lived in Costa Rica. He had just recently gotten dial-up Internet service and also had an early-model digital camera. This was before blogs really became common place, but our church at a website created with OurChurch.Com’s Beacon Web Builder, which meant the site could be updated from any Internet-accessible computer in the world. So, most days during our trip, I would upload photos from that day and add a new page to the website with a summary of that day’s events. The church secretary emailed everyone in the church to let them know daily updates were being posted to the site.
When I got back I was overwhelmed by the number of people who said they had checked the website, appreciated the updates, and had been praying for our team. It was really awesome for our team, and it was equally beneficial to the other people in our church.
Fast forward to September 2005… Hurricane Katrina had just devastated the Gulf Coast. A friend at church and I felt led by God to organize a team to go and help with the relief effort. We made arrangements to serve at what became known as Camp Katrina in Waveland, MS.
Camp Katrina was basically a tent city that had formed in a Kmart parking lot. At the time about 5,000 meals a day were being served in the “cafeteria.” In addition to cooking and serving meals, our team also served in the “store” where semi-trailers full of dry and canned goods were being, and in the cleaning and maintenance of the facilities.
Katrina had destroyed the power systems in Waveland and the surrounding communities. Electricity at Camp Katrina was provided by diesel generators. I was quite surprised to see two computers with Internet access had been set-up in the main dining tent. We hadn’t expected to be able to blog, but after a quick call, our church’s web administrator set-up a blog, and we began posting updates with photos several times a day.
As with the Costa Rica trip, many people back home read the blog on a daily basis. They prayed for us and felt a real connection to what we were doing. What made it even more exciting for those of us in Waveland was that many people posted comments on the blog, which were a real source of encouragement. So, in this case the communication was two-way. I wish I had archived the comments.
Now days it’s so easy to set up a free blog on a site like blogger.com that any group going on a short-term missions trip can blog as long as there’s an Internet connection available where they’re going. I can’t emphasize enough how much of a blessing it is to both those serving as well as those back at home.
If you’ve blogged on a short-term missions trip, post a comment and tell us about it.