Wash dishes. I mean it, wash dishes all the time. Do your own laundry. Gladly eat the food they have on hand, but pass on that special treat they just got from the States that they feel obliged to share with you. And then go wash some more dishes. Don’t treat your visit as a vacation at a resort. The missionaries are not there only to feed you and entertain you. Pull your weight.
Speaking of entertaining, be easy to entertain. Don’t feel you have to be constantly moving and doing and talking and going. Sometimes, there are only so many places to go, and things to do, and entertaining an energy ball can be exhausting.
Be culturally sensitive. Don’t schlump around in your dirty, white, tennis shoes, loudly talking about the “natives” in English and exclaiming about how much worse the country is than the United States. You are on their territory, not yours. Act accordingly. Don’t hog the volleyball or diss how they play. Eat their food with gusto. Wear clean shoes.
On the other hand, remember that all those things that are just uh-MAZING about this AWESOME country you’re visiting are not quite as new and exciting to your missionary friend. Sure, the view is lovely, but have you considered that maybe this is the seventh time this year that the missionary has climbed this mountain to look at this view with different groups of enthusiastic visitors? No, getting to live in another country doesn’t automatically make them the luckiest person in the world. Because sometimes it’s actually hard, really hard. Be sensitive to that.
Pray for them. That sounds so cliche, I know, but you know what were some of the groups we most enjoyed when we lived in Honduras? The prayer teams. I recently read a blog post about short term missions, and it said that instead of focusing on the locals, focus on helping the missionaries, because that makes a much bigger difference, and I thought, YES. So true. Also, when you leave, don’t forget to write them. I know firsthand the delight of letters from friends you left behind. In fact, letters from far away are what inspired the name of this blog originally.
And now for a little confession: I started this blog post before my recent trip to Honduras, then I thought, nah, I better not post it before I go, because what a lot to live up to! 😀 So here it is, post-trip, and now my lovely hosts can read it and judge me if they wish.