I'm still thinking through the trip, in lots and lots of ways. I spent a lot of time recently just updating my journal. Great to rethink through the trip and remember all the funny and obscure details. All in all, I'm just ecstatic about how it turned out. Everything from the team to what we did to getting to know and serve the McMs, all of it - I'm really proud of it all. It has to rank as being one of the more successful things that I have done of late. So I'm just beaming when I think about it. Like anything similar, there are going to be things that can be improved. So here is my rough list of good and bad.
What We Did Right
- We went and served a GCC family.
Hands down, this is golden. Totally makes the whole thing worthwhile.
- We lived among the culture.
Instead of living all together, in an 'American' compound, we split up and lived with Brazilian families in their homes. It's a balancing act, finding enough time for your team together while also making sure you spend a good bit of time with the host families, because they really want to get to know you and host you.
- We went with the intention to build relationships.
Our team never squandered our time there. Every day had a sense of urgency to it, all opportunities were okay to capitalize on.
- We brought the right leader team.
Like I mentioned in a previous post, the leaders were great. There was never a time when I couldn't trust them. Traveling to another country with leadership issues would have been really bad news.
- Our music policy worked.
In the end, it wasn't so much about the music, but about the team paying attention to the rest of the team.
- A community service project that everyone could get involved in.
Both Americans and Brazilians got involved in the playground work. It was pretty awesome.
For Next Time (didn't I tell myself I was too old for this again?)
- Use more live music.
We didn't do any worship as a team. More live music, especially for worship, would have been pretty cool.
- We were a little short on time.
Probably due to flying out a day late. But time did fly by.
- The point leader should stay with the point host.
In this case, since this whole thing was setup by me and GMcM, it would have been better to stay at his house. It was definitely not a big deal. For both of us, the informal, various time around the house would have surely been filled with great conversation and thinking. I'm lucky, because doing this kind of stuff gives me access to some really quality people.
- Leadership sets the tone.
As the primary shaper of the leader culture, I should have been a bit more careful with my attitude and language when the lead team would discuss issues. It's way too easy to be sarcastic and caustic. Even with leaders (maybe especially with leaders), there are attitudes that are conveyed which have to be in check.
- Plan for a neutral location for reentry.
We didn't do this, there just wasn't enough time. Reentry is really important and should also include a discussion about relationships, not just cultural reentry. Adding a reentry location certainly complicates travel logistics though.
- Kids are not allowed to bring cell phones.
Yup, you can relate.
- A sleep-in day.
I got this idea from my friend, T. During one week long retreat, he grabbed all of us leaders to cook breakfast in bed for all the kids. The idea was just to give them a break, let them sleep in a bit, serve them a bit. Great idea. By the end, we totally could have used one of those days.
Photo: The whole crew that helped fix up the playground.