A Letter to a Pre-Missionary Googler

To the innocent wanderer who happened upon my blog after Googling “I want to go to Haiti to be a missionary”: I’m sorry. I hope that your original search did not provide any answers and you Google it again to be directed back to this post. I remember days of searching things like that on the internet myself only my search was for Mali, not Haiti, and I never used the M-Word for myself, but I would have probably been worried to death if my first search led me to some of the posts here on this blog. If you have been trying to discern your path in this world, probably even with lots of prayer and guidance from respected mentors of yours, and you finally felt this week like you received a calling to be a missionary in Haiti, and your next step in trying to make that possible led you here, then I’m sorry. Please disregard whatever you read and come back in a year or two to continue reading again. (Unless all that you read were the fashion rules, then please, print them out and read them every morning after waking up in this beautiful country.)

There's plenty of hope and brightness on the horizon in Haiti. Focus on that for now.

There’s plenty of hope and brightness on the horizon in Haiti. Focus on that for now.

I’ve said it before that my intention with this blog is certainly not to discourage those who are seeking for their own place in this crazy world of mission work. It takes time for everyone who chooses to embark on that path to find out the appropriate way for themselves to make it work. Too many people enter into it recklessly and with the wrong motivations for their seemingly good intentions, which is one of the many reasons why I write, to try to avoid the messes that those situations make. But for you, I feel an authenticity in your Google search term that suggests you’re already trudging through those tough decisions and have made the very noble choice to commit long term to a life here. If so, then many of the things that I write about you’ll learn yourself with time, but they are certainly not things that you need to be worrying about as you start out your journey. You deserve to start out this journey with a fresh optimism towards all that awaits you as you delve into service with the people of Haiti. Keep your heart in the right place, but keep asking your head the tough questions too so that you will grow along that journey. Down the road you may come to experience things that would make you read this blog with an understanding that will allow you to engage in discussions on such topics with passion and concrete reasoning. You may not ever come to agree with everything that is written on this blog. I hope that you don’t because differences of opinion will keep the conversation going and that’s what the future of foreign intervention needs to improve here, dialog. But whether you come to agree with some of what is said or whether you just are able to provide more real life examples contrary to the opinions expressed here, you’ll be able to contribute to that dialog. And in that case, I look forward to welcoming you into the circle that involves truly all types, and that’s when the conversation is the most effective tool at leading us into new levels of understanding each individually and as a community.

But that is not what you need now. You need an introduction to this country that allows you to develop your own sincere desire to follow through on a long-term relationship. Haiti needs you to believe in your potential to help it right now. Haiti does not need you reading a thousand reasons why helping here usually ends up causing more problems than solutions. If you start off on that foot in your experience in Haiti, then it will only make you seem like an arrogant bitter jerk to the Haitians that you need to like you in order to effectively collaborate with you and an obnoxious little punk to the expats who have already been here for years and will have to help you learn the ropes. You don’t want to be that newbie missionary, trust me. You want to be the newbie missionary with the humble attitude that makes all of the Haitians want to get to know you and willing to work with you as well as the open-mindedness that makes all of the other expats believe that you are ready to learn and adapt to whatever you encounter.

The truth is that you don’t want to come in thinking you have all of the answers, you want to come in asking the right questions. I know that the way I write on this blog sometimes come off as if I’m pompously spouting all of the answers from a place of perfect humanitarian sovereignty, but the truth is that I write about all of these things because I still have many questions about them myself and am searching for more ways to open up the dialog on the issues. Those who are looking at the issues from comparable levels of experience as I are able to see the uncertainty within the writing because it sometimes breeches territory that many are afraid to step into. We have to start making statements on these issues if we are ever to truly find the best way about them and the truth that’s underneath the questions. No one would have ever given a crap when Plato said the earth was round if someone else hadn’t first stated “The earth is clearly flat!” There would have been no dialog for Plato to enter into. I may be stating that the earth is flat with some of the things that I state on this blog, but the truth is that in the world of aid and mission too many people have just been watching the sun come up and go down each day thinking that it revolves around them without ever questioning what shape the earth beneath them is in the first place.

So, if you are just now starting to take steps to enter into this world of good-doing, then know that it is an exciting time to be a part of it because people are starting to ask more questions about the way we do things and the tides of how things are done are really starting to change. There is a movement of better practices being preached and more and more of the old methods are being ditched in favor of more dignified solutions. And we need new fresh thinkers to be a part of that movement. So welcome. But step in with an excitement for what is to come and don’t worry about being frustrated with what is past. Hopefully you won’t have to experience much of that old way, much of which I spend my time criticizing on this blog. Hopefully you will have the chance to be a part of something better. Much of that will, of course, depend on what else your Google search led you too. What other blogs did you read? What organizations will you contact to see if they are accepting new missionaries to Haiti? What individuals will you seek out for advice and direction as you make this decision? I pray that you are able to find an organization that will truly realize your value and be able to utilize your gifts to the greatest extent possible to guide you towards becoming a very effective missionary in this place. I pray that the links you click on show you the Haiti that waits for you, not to save it, not to love on it, not to solve its problems or show it who God is, but to share with it, live with it, and journey with it as you struggle alongside it to discover God in the sacred moments of everyday life with it.

And know that The Green Mango will still be here struggling, journeying, and living the whole time too. In the meantime, if you feel that your Googling was unsuccessful and are looking for more ideas, feel free to email me directly and I could provide you with some suggestions of organizations to contact as well as a couple to avoid. And then, when your experiences are ready for more dialog, come on back to the blog and read on. We’ll be waiting for you to join the discussion. Until then, good luck, God bless. Kenbe la.

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