Tag Archives: volunteer

Crimes of Fashion

or “For the love of all that is holy, stop wearing matching mission team t-shirts”

If you know me, or have even seen me, you will find this next piece of information hilarious.

My college degree was Fashion Merchandising.

Yep.

Fashion. Merchandising.

And I did graduate.

I won’t tell you which institution actually granted the degree, because it might just be considered slander.

Truly, jeans, flip flops, and t-shirts are my uniform. To me, dressing up is black jeans instead of blue. High fashion is putting on a dress, and still wearing flip flops.

My clothes never go out of style, because I still have clothing that is over 20 years old, and fashion recycles itself about every 20 years.

Other than my daily fashion crime of not caring, there is one fashion crime I have intentionally committed, with unintended circumstances.

Wearing my shirt inside out? I admit, that has happened.

Wearing two different colored socks? Only in the winter.

Forgetting to brush my hair? Well, yes, but that’s not it, either.

What then, could my fashion crime possibly be??

The beloved, iconic, matching short term mission team tshirt.

There.

I have said it.

I confess.

Not only have I done this, I have enabled others to do it, too. C’mon, I know you have done it. You might have done it recently. You might be wearing your matching team t-shirt now. You didn’t know… and neither did I.

Our shirts were things of beauty. Sky blue, with Go Global across the front, proclaiming to all that we were servants of God. There were 17 of us. We looked like a smurf village. We CALLED ourselves smurfs in these shirts. We wore them for a group photo. I don’t remember wearing them as a group, but that might be because the memory is so painfully awkward.

I don’t hate team t-shirts. I think they are fun, especially AFTER the trip. I have seen amazing shirts crafted after a trip with one liners that only the team would understand, or a meaningful scripture for the group. Hey, you can even have them before the trip, but for the love of all that you want to be on the trip…

PLEASE DON’T WEAR THEM AT THE SAME TIME!

Why not?

Security – You’re already a foreigner in a foreign land. Why advertise it by wearing neon orange shirts… all 20 of you? You make yourselves a target.

Community – Do you want to build community? If your intention is to go into a community, be the rich outsider coming in to fix things, stay in your clique, and hang out together, only to dip your toe into the culture by walking through the neighborhoods and taking photos of you and the children, then STAY HOME. If you want to walk alongside of your brothers and sisters in the community, learn from them, and BE with them, then one of the barriers you’ll need to consider is your clothing. Especially your matching shirts. Nothing says exclusion like clean, new, matching shirts. And no, bringing enough for everyone isn’t a solution… because there is never enough for everyone.

Your message –  In Matthew 6 it says “So when you give to the needy, do it with matching t-shirts on, so everyone will know you are going to do good deeds and help the poor”

Oh, wait. That’s not what it says… It does say… “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6: 1-4

WHY?   If you need to dress alike to find each other in the airport, maybe you need to reconsider who is going on the mission trip. Seriously, if your team can’t be responsible in the airport, stick together, or follow instructions, how will they function in another country?

So, go for it…. Get the matching t-shirts. But wear them in the US.  Wear them during your presentation. Wear them till they wear out. Schedule days to wear them while you are volunteering, just reconsider wearing your t-shirts as a group.

What to wear?  You can’t go wrong with choosing your wardrobe from Colossians 3:12.   Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

The Perfect Fit

My daughter, Lauren, is a runner. It’s not genetic. I will only run if something is chasing me, or if dark chocolate is involved.

I like to walk. For over a decade I have worn a certain brand of shoe, made especially for women. I am terribly loyal to them. There is some pain in walking, though. I develop painful blisters and callouses on my toes after only one 2 mile walk. I know this, so I bind my toes in moleskin or Band-Aids to help stop the blistering. I have been doing this for over 10 years. That could be the definition of insanity.

Just last month Lauren needed new running shoes so we went to the Greenville Running Company (GRC). The store had a cool machine you could step on and have your feet analyzed. I don’t run, but I like cool machines, so I hopped on. I bear most of my weight on my heel, I have really high arches, but the big surprise is that I need a size larger in running shoes than I normally wear.

Thanks to a really knowledgeable staff and a persuasive daughter, I left the store with beautiful red running shoes that I was assured were great for walkers. And, they were a size larger than I had been wearing for over ten years.

What a difference the right size makes!! A perfect fit. Now I take walks with no pain, no bandages, no blisters. Thank you Karen and Jeff at GRC!

Why did I finally make the change, when I had been living with pain for so many years?

  1. Someone cared. Lauren encouraged me to try, and to not settle, but to go for better.
  2. Someone knew their stuff. The staff at the running shoe store was knowledgeable about their product and taught us the hows and whys as they fit us in our shoes.
  3. I tried. I slipped on the shoes and walked around in the store. WOW. Even in that short time I could get a glimpse of what I had been missing… the perfect fit.

So where is my perfect fit this year, besides my pretty red shoes, of course. God has called me to be a mobilizer, and I love that. But there are so many other daily opportunities, too. Where are yours?

Where is your perfect fit this year? Is God urging you to step out of whatever is binding in your life so that you can be a part of ministry in your neighborhood, your community, the world?

Find someone who knows their stuff.  American Baptist International Ministries is dedicated to serving volunteers. Their volunteer team lives to encourage, engage, and educate God’s people as they seek to serve. We are accredited members of Standards of Excellence of Short Term Mission (SOE) http://www.soe.org. They have met the seven standards, and continue to strive for excellence as they serve God and you.

TRY! You never know what fits until you try. I am pretty sure my new shoes weren’t God ordained, but trusting in God’s call and faithfulness is. Maybe your perfect fit is as simple as rocking babies at a day care, or a hospital in your own community. Pray about what God is asking of you.

It’s a new year! Step out of your old shoes and into new. Join me; let’s keep each other company as we walk 2015 together!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17