Sometimes, “we were more of a hindrance than help.” : A reflection by participant Barbara McGee on the 2015 trip
Church of the Good Shepherd, Acton Partners with El Octillo, El Salvador
We have a relationship with a sister community, El Ocotillo, in El Salvador. Although our main goal is accompaniment, over many years fundraising has focused on supporting scholarships to keep the youth in school.
In recent mission trips we have asked the community if there is a small project that they would like us to help them accomplish. From our perspective the projects have provided a way for us to spend a morning working side by side, an especially nice experience for non-Spanish speakers on the trip. This past summer they wanted to build pilas (outdoor sinks) for a few families. We sent the funds down ahead for supplies. When we arrived we found that they had already built the pilas! They were so excited to have the materials that they couldn’t wait for us!
A few newcomers on our trip were greatly disappointed, having the vision of something tangible to say they did on their mission trip. We realized we were more of a hindrance than help in most projects. One youth explained to his friends it was like having a guest who has never used a lawnmower offer to mow your lawn. You teach him how it works, he mows the lawn, you thank him graciously and when he leaves, you do it all over again to fix all the mistakes!