True Confessions of an MCC Worker

MCC workers generally pride themselves on being the most enlightened, culturally sensitive international presence on the block. Whether its missionaries, other international NGOs, or embassy employees; we passive-aggressively  joke about how well we walk with the poor in comparison to these other groups (with the exception of Catholic nuns) and we tend to use the most respectful and humble language to talk about what we do in other countries around the world.

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Every MCCer begins his or her term with phrases like “accompaniment”, “mutual transformation”, “walking alongside”, “your liberation is bound up with mine”,  “relationships are what really matters” and other such self-effacing thoughts bouncing around his or her head. Talk about results and measurable change is only whispered behind closed doors. This humble way of looking at what we do is probably the main reason I chose to work with MCC over other organizations. I believe an honest look at history teaches us that international involvement in countries from the Philippines to the Congo to Chile to Nicaragua hasn’t really worked out so well for native peoples. Hence our need to be intentional about what we do and realize that if we’re not careful we can easily cause more harm than good.

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So, in light of those words of praise and recognition for the humility with which we strive to work alongside our brothers and sisters in foreign lands:

Why do I FEEL so FREAKING SUPERIOR all the time??

The truth is it’s pretty dang (excuse all the euphemisms) hard to be humble. I don’t know if its my college education, U.S. cultural influences, or my religious enlightenment; but I often find myself feeling smarter and just plain better than the people that I live and work with —

Taking a shower or eating a pineapple at night makes you sick?
Haha, how quaint.

The devil is making so and so do such and such? The Simpsons are full of diabolic symbols that are corrupting our kids?
I stopped believing in that stuff years ago.

I know I didn’t come here thinking I was going to fix things and you all certainly know your own context infinitely better than I ever will; but just do it my way and I promise you’ll get better results!

How easy it is to become the know-it-all North American that I so loathed during MCC orientation!

The truth is I am very proud to be working with MCC and of the way that Marisa and I have tried to walk humbly with our God and with our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters over the past three years. After three years I can say that I have experienced such ethereal things as “mutual transformation” and still maintain the belief that building good relationships is probably the most important part of our work.

Ugh, but the intense desire to see concrete results, the need to base my self-worth on my accomplishments, and the feeling that my advanced education and more “modern” science-based mind make me superior to others often gets in the way. Certainly I have much to share and give, but I have just as much if not more to receive. Its something that I’m struggling with and hoping that more often than not my way of being matches all those pretty words.

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One Comment on “True Confessions of an MCC Worker”

  1. Darrel Says:

    Thanks for your reflections Adam. During my short visit to Nicaragua I was most impressed with the relationships so evident between MCC staff and MCC partners we met along the way. One thing I also believe to be true is that as MCC’ers we tend to be very hard on ourselves for all the shortcomings we know about ourselves. The truth is, you and Marisa have been warmly embraced by many people in Nicaragua – in spite of all the shortcomings you feel you have. That embrace says the most about the impact of your time in Nicaragua!!


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