January 11, 2012

1st World Pains

I thought I would be updating my blog and getting pictures up immediately, during and after my trip to Africa, but that was not the case. I made a decision to not take a camera with me on the trip, though I almost always have my camera at my side. The problem is I become obsessed with getting the right picture, the right angle, the right moment that I actually miss the moment all together. I didn't want to live behind a lens. So I am now relying on all my friends to get their pictures up and then I will share.

I also did not plan on having such a difficult time processing. On paper I am a "seasoned missionary" for my age. I spent my first ten years in Kenya and have since gone on 10 short term trips around the world. This trip should be just like any other, right? Not at all. I forget that my last trip was right after I graduated high school. I was hardly an adult. I did all the wrong things. I wanted to take pictures with the kids so I would have a new profile picture, I wanted to make myself feel good because I was "sacrificing" my time to go to Africa, I couldn't wait to buy cheap souvenirs, and I made promises to children that I did not keep, like returning to visit. I was the poster child of Slum Tourism, the reason that short-term trips get so much flack. Well after reading parts of "When Helping Hurts", growing a lot, and simply being in a job that makes you aware of all these issues, this trip was unlike any I have been on.

I didn't expect to have reverse culture shock. I have seen poverty countless times but as an adult you can rationalize how much you really have. My two bedroom house no longer feels small, I am overwhelmed in the grocery store and TV commercials gross me out (One of my January goals is to watch less TV).

Michael and I started pointing out what some call "1st World Pains". Before the trip it was sort of a game for us to call each other out, but now it really feels like an attitude shift. For example:
-"The water coming out of the fridge is not cold enough and I don't want to put ice in it..."
-"The car in front of me is driving so slow..."
-"The volume on your computer is not very loud..."
-"My phone froze right when I was going to send a video to my friend..."- 1st world pain

I guess you could call this just complaining in general, but in comparison to what you experience in other parts of the world, it just can't be justified.

But going on a mission trip is so much more than coming home feeling guilty for everything you have. That is not the point at all.  The point is the individuals you meet and how those relationships inspire a different perspective which then drive you to do something. I will share in the upcoming days and weeks the individuals who absolutely touched my life. I am so blessed to be part of a team of 30 that were Jesus with skin on. I am so blessed to have met selfless men and women dedicating their lives to the cause of the orphan. I am so blessed to have spent days with children who had more joy than I could ever dream of having.

Your life will change whether it is your 1st time going or your 10th time going. It did for me. You will experience things you cannot put into words, you will see some of the most beautiful and disturbing scenery, you will find yourself becoming so close to people you just met, you will be stretched and pushed further than you thought you could and you will experience life on a whole new level.
Michael and I at Imbabazi Orphanage in Rwanda. Yes, my backpack is giving me a hunchback...
I drew this after I came home. Maybe that little house is a sign for our future :)

If you are interested in going on trip like the one I went on, go to Visiting Orphans or talk to me!


  1. Amazing post Merrill! And I absolutely LOVE the drawing!!! See you soon!

  2. Thank you for sharing your feelings on this trio so openly. - Stuart Stokes

  3. You are such a gifted artist! I love it! Thanks for sharing!


  4. So good! Thanks for sharing, dear :)
    P.S. LOVEEE the drawing! Could you do one of India for me?! I'll send you $ to ship it :)

  5. Do I smell a new tshirt design??? hahahh!! I LOVE IT MERRILL and your heart. Take ALL the time in the world to process this first trip. I’m still digesting…. the Lord will gradually speak to you in ways you never heard before. I can’t wait to see it shine through you even more!

  6. Thanks for sharing your heart! Great post! I am so thankful that Ethiopia stole your heart. She stole mine too. :)

  7. Hi, I just came across your blog through checking out Visiting Orphans (through a friend who introduced me to it) and that post was good for me to read in a lot of ways. Thanks for your words about your trip! I would love to hear more about what it was like for you as I've been praying about going on a short-term like like the ones you talked about going on..