My Mission Journey-Rev. Burrel McNaught

Between 1992 and 2002, I took part in nine Volunteers-in-Mission trips under the auspices of the Oklahoma Methodist Conference. I went to Jamaica, the Mississippi flood plain (with youth), Guatemala (twice), Israel/Palestine, Puerto Rico, Alaska, El Salvador, and Belize. At first, I was hesitant to do this partly because it would mean being absent from my pulpit. But mostly, it would mean getting out of my “comfort zone.” The truth is that every mission experience was a unique challenge and blessing.

Most of the mission trips included construction work, a makeshift medical and dental
clinic, and a Vacation Bible School for the children. I was a construction worker, worked with the children, and was an “eye doctor,” testing and fitting people with glasses.

We worshipped with the people, worked with them, ate with them, and visited with them. What little Spanish I remembered from high school and college was of some help. Our team leader told me two weeks in advance to prepare a sermon in Spanish. I worked hard to come up with a one-page message and was surprised when people told me they understood what I was saying!

We were advised in our orientation, and periodically during mission meditations and briefings, to keep these two vital words in mind: patience and flexibility. Remember to practice patience and flexibility because you can never tell when the need may arise.

We talk a lot about how we need to be giving of ourselves and our resources. And we do. Our Religious Life Committee and our chaplains, Laura and Dwight, have provided a full month of celebration, education, and giving opportunities. (Note details elsewhere.) As we give, we also receive so much. Most of my experience as a VIM was in Central America. We found the people to be poor but gracious and grateful. It was an affirmation of our efforts.