Let me surmise your holidays for 2017. What if you blended a vacation with some vocation. As a pastor I am telling you that you need a holiday, a sabbatical, a restful period to stop. As a missioner though I am telling you that you can change the world. I would like to surmise whether you can do what the Stockmans did this summer. Listen up…
I want to take you to two moments of my summer of 2016. Both will live with me forever. Both left a deep mark of vocational satisfaction.
The first was in a school yard on the outskirts of Arua, West Nile, Uganda. The school, Onialeku Primary, was funded by our church, Fitzroy, tithing their halls building project.
It was our second trip there. It was just the family. We were there because my daughters refused to follow through on a house swap in Vancouver because “How would we change the world there Daddy!” Can you see vacation and vocation blending already!
Anyway, on our last day in the school I looked across that school yard and caught my daughter playing with tens of children. They were surrounding her. They love her. She loves them. The laughter and the happiness was tangible.
I looked at my daughter’s face and caught a depth of smile and utter joy that made my own heart leap. I thought to myself, this is why she wants to be here instead of Kitsilano Beach. This is her happiest place on earth. She had been teaching, playing and giving love and sense of preciousness to an entire school. In that moment my fifteen year old’s vocation and vacation were one.
An added bonus is that the most significant parts of our daughters’ development and growth has been the times we exposed them to Africa and such projects. Oh yes, we give… but we always get more! The best things in my daughters' lives have been given to them by the children, staff and pastors of Onialeku Primary School and Fields Of Life.
The second place is up in the Kassanda hills, a couple of hours outside Kampala. We bounced about in the bus across non tarmac roads for what seemed like hours to see a brand new water well, drilled by Fields Of Life. It was an amazing experience to see what clean water can mean to communities lost and ignored out in the hills.
We soon realised that, unbeknown to us, we were Ambassadors for Fields Of Life and this project. The actual people who had donated the money for their well could not be here. We were white and came from the same place so we would be the ones they would thank. And boy did they thank us. We got out of the bus and they ran towards us, singing for us. They then marched us down a dusty path that had been decorated with flowers. They made speeches, gave us Mirinda drinks and gifted us a shed load of wonderful fruit.
They were so happy at us taking the time, and flying the miles, to visit them. It made a huge difference to their sense of worth. They were as blessed at us being there as we were blessed at being there. I realised that my wife is right again when she says, “Just turning up is enough.” She means that just by visiting we make an impact and change the world of communities who feel neglected and marginalised.
In between these moments we had an amazing family vocational moment. On the way from Kampala to Arua we spent two nights at Murchison Falls National Park. We took two safari trips and a Nile cruise. Again I remember looking up at my daughters on top of the Land Rover pointing out elephants and giraffes and lions and snapping photographs. It was a family memory keeper.
So, I got to think. What if I could blog and encourage others to do what we did; blend their vacations with a world transformational vocation.
Now, before those who know about our trip say it let me confess. Fitzroy were so good to give us this trip as work. We got another vacation after the vocation. We invested our holiday money in the trip and it was our summer travel holiday but we did get time to rest afterwards.
So, I am not saying that you should take your two or three week summer holidays and do what we did. I am though wondering if you could plan a holiday that allowed you a few days or even a week visiting or working with many communities across the world who would benefit so much from your visit and then add your holiday on.
If you had the money then a few days in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania doing vocation before a 10 day or two week vacation in Zanzibar could blend the two very nicely. Or is it Central America, South America, India, Thailand, eastern Europe or wherever you feel a heart tug.
We had a blessed summer. I know the vacation, important and all as it was, was empty after the vocation. I believe this is something worth surmising. We are thinking already about next summer!