In which someone almost torpedos a mission trip...(long)

As some of you may be aware, I lead mission trips to a small barrio in San Jose, Costa Rica called Pavas.

There is a church there we partner with. We have been deliberate since the beginning of this partnership that the relationship be an EQUAL one. There are too many white churches dropping into Latin American countries to “rescue” them, which usually means teaching them how to do things the America way. There is always an undercurrent of “we have the money…I am sure you will see things our way”. There is also a sense of “poverty tourism” where you get to go to exotic places and feel good because you helped some poor folks while you were there.

This is not a short term relationship where we will be looking for the next project for next year.

So I am taking a group down in August. It is mother’s day the Wednesday we are there, so we are teaching the kids some songs and they are making a craft. The last day they will give it to their mothers and sing the songs for their mothers.

We will have blood pressure and diabetes screening. We will also be taking the older folks from the church in Pavas on a retreat.

We will also be doing some repairs on local houses. We have about $3500 to spend on materials.

I sent an email yesterday to our contact there to tidy up some details. Here is the body of the text:

Imagine their confusion when they got the following email the same day from a guy who is not even going on the trip!:

Isn’t this letter…bitchy?

Who does this guy think he is?

The folks in Pavas did not come to us begging for money. We ASKED them what we could help with while we were there and they told us! This letter sounds like they are coming to us with ridiculous demands.

Not to mention I emailed them the same day saying we have the money we need. How confused do you think they were to receive an email from someone else contradicting what I had just said?

ARGH! Just the overall tone and spirit of the email was so shitty. The relationship we have with the church is young and fragile. The are still waiting to see what kind of long term commitment we have to what we SAY we will do.

Just had to vent.

My contact is the son of the pastor in Pavas. The son lives in the USA. He called me confused by the other email. I apologized and told him that the letter does not represent the views of my church. He agreed to forget about it and not forward it to his father.

But WTF?