May 9, 2016

I Already Know

It’s about eight o’clock in the morning and I haven’t slept yet. After a pretty adrenaline-filled pre-boarding adventure in Toronto (just watch our first vlog), we flew over the ocean and finally arrived in Amsterdam. The excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead keeps me awake. We’re on our way to Johannesburg.

This will be my fourth time on a trip that we have, for years now, affectionately called the Africa Learning Team. Because of this, I feel like I know some of what we can expect; and this completely changes my appreciation for the journey.

I already know that I am going to be in awe of the beauty of our world through God’s meticulous creation. I already know that the people we are going to have the privilege of interacting with are going to welcome us with open arms and incredibly generous hearts. I already know that my own heart is going to break—againover the hardships that I will see. Hardships that I don’t fully understand and won’t ever have to live through. I already know that despite these hardships, I will meet some of the most joy-filled people on the planet. I already know that this change in my life’s rhythm will have me in a head space where I am more alert to the presence of God. And I already know that I will come home with renewed conviction: that the work we are investing in as a church is worth spending my whole life advocating for. I already know all of this.

So why am I going? Again?

Because this trip is not about me. It’s not about increasing my own personal knowledge. It’s not about facilitating the opportunity for the personal growth of others on the trip. I am going—we are going—because of a commitment that we made as a church years ago. We decided that we would intentionally link ourselves to people and organizations who are doing great work in an area of the world where there is significant hardship, as well as a significant number of our extended BIC family.

We are going because we believe that linking arms is more than us stretching ourselves in radical financial generosity to extend compassion to people who most of us will never meet. It also involves taking time out of our schedules to go and physically be present with the people behind the partnerships. To show up in the flesh and reinforce that we care just as much today as we did all those years ago. To remind us as a church that despite all that we already know there is still a lifetime of learning left before we fully grasp the depth of compassion that Jesus calls us to as we seek to follow him and be more like him.

This is why we are going, and this is why we invite you to join us. We hope that through our words, photographs, and videos, you will become more aware of the incredible stories, unique personalities, and familiar faces that make up these incredible relationships.

-Amanda Miles

8 Comments on “I Already Know

May 9, 2016 at 10:44 am

Increasingly churches are launching these kinds of efforts. Although they often bask in the warmth of learning to be with the poor etc etc, if you really cared, you’d take the 3-4K which each person is paying and donate it to a church or NGO doing work in the region. How many of the same folks who are spending money on this trip would donate 10th of that many to go to help the needy in Canada. Some would i’m sure, but mostly they would not. I’m sorry, i see these trips every day at churches. Sincere people have convinced themselves that they can make a difference in 3 weeks. This is about you. So if you want to take a trip, fine, but don’t bask it in compassion or some missions trip which folks will donate to through car washes and bake sales. I know, you feel disconnected when you donate money to an aid organization, but that really is the best way to help. You complain about administration costs of aid organizations perhaps, but when you go, 100 percent of the money is administration. Most people who take these trips have never visited the needy in Toronto or even sung a hymn at an old folks home. So, my suggestion is to support Africa with your finances (or become a career missionary) But if you want to feel better about yourself, knock on doors to raise money or go to an old folks home.

David Siekanowicz
May 12, 2016 at 9:57 am

Hi Pam,

With all due respect, you seem to have misunderstood the purpose of The Meeting House’s Africa Learning Teams. We have developed relationship with the partner agencies and communities we support over the years. Relationships that have grown into friendships. There is a sense of mutual care and partners frequently ask when we will be returning. We go for many reasons, namely, to encourage others. Our presence encourages the people we meet oversees by saying we care for them enough to give of our time and resources to visit. It also encourages the people here who are trusting their donations to the larger NGOs we partner with – without seeing their work in person. We answer their questions when we return home, share the progress we’ve seen, what we’ve learned, and it often inspires them and others to continue giving.

The Meeting House don’t host the kind of fundraisers you’ve listed so before saying more, I would really encourage you to join us regularly and get to know us better. African Learning Team participants pay for the learning experience themselves as is normal for individuals taking a course in cross-cultural learning or international development. Furthermore, while we don’t complain about the administration cost of NGOs, we do believe in donating wisely and take many things into consideration.

Our church supports an incredible amount of work locally in Canada as well globally. Our local compassion initiatives look different in each location as they look for the best possible way to engage with the unique needs present in their communities. While our local emphasis has been to give of our time, resources, and skill sets, we have also provided significant grants to local registered charities that we’re partnered with. We serve at drop-in youth centres, support homes for those with disabilities, provide meals for seniors and families that are struggling, encourage community reconciliation, and so much more.

Michael R. Nelson
May 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Love Linking Arms!!! Creates WWC – World Wide Community!!!

May 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Thank you Amanda!

Cammie LaCoste
May 10, 2016 at 6:55 am

Praising the LORD with you Amanda that the team arrived safe and sound. I thank Him for this opportunity for you to be an extension of His arm. May His strength be with you today and His arms surround you always.

May 10, 2016 at 8:00 am

You do a good job at expressing what it is like to spend time with the people in Africa and the impact it has. Keep the updates coming

May 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm

We will pray for you, your trip and Africa.

Jon Rose
May 15, 2016 at 3:19 am

David, I really like how you answered the question from Pam. I have been living on an overseas field for twenty years now, and we love to partner with organizations. We had a group from Europe who helped us build a playground a few years back. When the project was finished, we invited them to visit and see what we did with their gift. Of course, perhaps the funds they used to visit us could have been invested in further gifts for the poor and needy, but their visit led to a deep friendship and coordination of efforts and has helped benefit even more people in the long run. In July we will be sending some nationals from our country to receive training at their center in Europe which will strengthen our charity in the Mideast. Getting to know each other on a personal basis does help create world wide community and helps you pray more fervently for those in need and when you get back to your home country, it does make you want to do more for those in needier situations, whether at home or abroad.


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