Are we friends?
I feel like we are. Some of you have read SCL for close to four years. I’ve met a bunch of you. I’ve been to your church or hung out at conferences with you. You’ve mailed me Cadbury Creme eggs to this address: Jon Acuff 1749 Mallory Lane, Brentwood, TN 37027.
Except for about six of you. We are sworn enemies. If we saw each other at a square dance, we would most definitely stop square dancing and try to sweep each other’s legs like the karate kid. You know who you are. Don’t let me catch you out square dancing.
So when you read the title of this post and think, “Nope, I don’t have a friend who has done that,” I need to let you know you’re wrong. Because I was almost that friend.
A few weeks ago, I shared a Serious Wednesday idea about something I learned during my trip to Vietnam. But as I was writing the post and thinking about the trip, I started to catch myself thinking things like, “Oh, these Western Christians. These American Christians are so silly sometimes.”
There is one big problem with that line of thinking.
I was in Vietnam for a grand total of 7 days.
Have you ever had the friend who goes on a one-week mission trip to Africa and comes home as an expert on the specific country they visited in Africa? They were gone for like an hour and a half and suddenly are using a Sudanese accent when they speak and complaining because Des Moines, Iowa doesn’t have a good Ethiopian restaurant. Ridiculous. And this was me last week. I was going to tweet:
“Vietnamese coffee makes your trendy coffee taste like hot, brown water.”
Is it true? Without a doubt. Am I all the sudden better than American coffee because I had 7 days of coffee in Vietnam? Not really.
My ability to become internationally pretentious is unbelievable. I would medal in that if it were a sport.
But it’s tempting, isn’t it? To go on a mission trip, experience faith in a different culture and come home and tell all your friends about “faith in the states.” By the way, don’t refer to the U.S. as “The States” unless you grew up outside of the country. I caught myself saying this to a friend the other day, “It’s good to be back in the states.” Oh stop. Why didn’t I just say, “It’s good to be home.” Or “It’s good to be back in Nashville.” Or just “It’s good to be back.” I probably said, “It’s good to be back in The States” because I wanted him and anyone else who was listening to think I was traveling internationally so often that I didn’t even have time to say “The United States.” I had to shorten it for speed to “The States.”
And even if you did go out of the country and want to talk about the differences between how you saw faith lived out, don’t lead off with shame. Nothing kills a post-mission trip conversation like saying, “You know who really loves Jesus? Jamaicans. You know who doesn’t? You Westerners, who I am apparently not one of having lived in Cleveland, Ohio for 27 years but recently spent 72 hours in Jamaica.”
I promise I’ll try not to write pretentious posts that make me look like an expert on world missions after seven days. And you? Well, you should keep an eye out for the friend who goes on a mission trip and then tells you that you’ve got such a Western approach to faith. Feel free to add them to my “leg sweep list.” Just don’t ever go square dancing with them. I feel like I’ve been pretty clear about that point.
Has a friend ever gone on a mission trip and acted like this?