Highlights and Lessons Learned on an FRB Trip

 Highlights and Lessons Learned on an FRB Trip

There are so many highlights and lessons learned in an FRB trip but here are a few from my recent experience in Africa and Armenia:

Traveling companions:  Meeting people from the US who are involved with GPs and sharing this experience with them was amazing. A great cross section of people; farmers, nurses, retirees, working folks, women, men, couples, single people; all sincere dedicated people who want to make a difference in the lives of those who need food security.  Meeting and traveling with Betty, a Kenyan farmer, and Nckey, a PWANI Christian Community Services staff from Kenya was extraordinary! They added some much depth, wisdom, and richness to the trip because of their experiences and own life stories within their villages. They were able to give credibility, hope and encouragement to the farmers and villagers, beyond what we could give as Caucasian Americans, because of their authenticity and passion for life and for Farming God's Way(FGW). They are beautiful people who taught me so much about FRB but also about life, service, and faith in God.

Learning about the structure and faith based partners in FRB: For someone like me who is not so familiar with “missionaries”, faith based development structures in the US and in the world, and the whole idea of a community-based model working with local partners and who they are and how they work together was fascinating! Attending meetings with people from many agencies, from many different denominations and hearing about the amazing work they do was encouraging and filled me with gratitude and hope.  It was wonderful to know that real issues of hunger, disease, health, water, food security and more were being addressed together for the common good of the people and that issues of dogma, creeds, and whose program is better, etc, was not even an issue.  It was a great example of how Jesus ignored social barriers, customs and “rules” of his day and religion, to touch the “untouchable” the most vulnerable, and those ignored by the “authorities” and gave them life. This was very life giving for me to witness!

Meeting the people in the villages and communities who are receiving FRB funding:  Being welcomed with singing, dancing, food, stories of thankfulness and appreciation was a profound experience and a definite highlight of the trip!  Pictures in FRB calendars, web page articles and pod-casts, poster boards, annual meetings, and harvest dinner speakers are great way to learn, but actually meeting people and hearing their stories and how their lives have been changed for the better, as well as the challenges and difficulties they face, is a most profound experience.  And it is the same getting to know and hear the stories of the local people who work with the faith based partners to carry out the training and the programs in the communities.  Experiences like these bind us to one another, make our world smaller, and testify to the fact that we are all connected to one another; we are sisters and brothers of one race, the Human Race, created by God.

Experiencing new lands, scenery, climates, flora, culture, food, sights, sounds, birds, animals and more.  Traveling beyond my own state and country to a different part of this amazing Earth was also a highlight!  Each country, each province, city or village had its similarities as well as its unique features and characteristics.  Traveling with FRB is an educational as well as a spiritual experience! I highly recommend it! 

Staying in the guest houses of the different faith based partners was great!  I loved meeting the folks and hearing their stories of how they came to be missionaries and workers in the area of development.  Each guest house was very pleasant with wonderful accommodations, great food, and relaxing and joy-filled days.  It often was a wonderful respite after a long day of travel and hearing emotional stories

I learned that the people I visited work very hard, especially the women and many people have great faith.  I learned that at times I felt an attitude or a sense of superiority and privilege by the way I was treated and honored which reinforce my sense of “aren't we wonderful to help these  people who are poor through FRB.”  I'm sure part of these feelings comes from my culture, being a white American, and having so much materially.  I felt uncomfortable acknowledging my feelings and attitudes.  This quote from Dom Helder Camara challenges me to see and accept my own “poverty” and superior attitudes which are not beneficial; “When shall we have the courage to outgrow the charity mentality and see that at the bottom of all relations between rich and poor there is a problem of justice?”  And these words from an Australian Aborigine woman really challenge me; “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”  I continue to learn how connected we really are to each other! 

Certainly learning the history of each country, facts and information about each program, and the challenges people face was quite a lesson.  I am still trying to sort it out.  Again, another quote from Maura Clark, an American Nun who was killed in El Salvador in 1980; “The poor really strip you, pull you, challenge you, evangelize you; show you God.”  How true!  Now, to learn what I am going to do with this information and how I am going to respond. 

Gloria Switzer

Fremont MI Growing Project

11/08/2012 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment