Post Mission Week 2017

Before I publish any blog post, I usually wait two to three days after writing it before I share it with the world. Out of all of my blog posts, the only two exceptions to that rule have been my last two. I regret nothing I’ve shared on this blog, because it is my personal truth. However, I do want to go back to waiting a few days to think about the impact of my words before hitting the publish button.

Even though I sometimes share my blog posts on Facebook, I never really expect a ton of people to read them. In my mind, my blog is still a secret part of the internet where I share my crazy thoughts and passions. My last blog post created a different kind of stir than what I am used to. A couple of my friends who were also on Mission Week are subscribed to my blog, so they get an email whenever I posted something. They both read my last blog post on the way to our worksite and shared it with a couple of other girls in their vans. Throughout the morning I had a few people approach me saying they had read what I had written and appreciated me using my voice.

About an hour before lunch that Wednesday, I stapled my finger with the staple gun while installing insulation underneath the house. Not gonna lie, it hurt a LOT. Luckily, one of my awesome work team adults, Robin, was a nurse and she was able to get my finger bandaged up pretty quickly.

After she did that, Pastor Tina called me over to talk to her and M’Kenna* behind a truck and out of view. She had set out a blanket for us to sit on, and her, M’Kenna, Robin and I sat down to talk. They had read my blog post and were deeply concerned about what I had written and what it had revealed about a few of the boys’ behavior on the worksite. Pastor Tina told me she appreciated what I had written, but she wished I had said something to her before writing it. I completely agreed with her, and that is something I deeply regret doing.

We then talked about feminism, and they gave me a chance to release some of my pent up frustration. I told them that what it came down to was that I just wanted to be taken seriously for the work that I was doing. And I wasn’t just talking about that worksite. I was talking about all women, in pretty much all aspects of life.

Pastor Tina asked me what I wanted to come from all of this. I told her I thought something should be said to the whole group, and she agreed with me. I told her I didn’t want anyone to be specifically called out, because that would only muddle the overall message. She asked if I wanted to speak too, and I politely declined.

Later, at lunch, Pastor Tina and Mr. Gene (her husband and the resident construction expert), talked about how everyone on the worksite was working hard and that everyone should be treated with equal respect. They reminded everyone to be more careful with their words and the impact that they may have on different people. Pastor Tina expressed to everyone that even though no one may have been intentionally sexist, it had become apparent that there was some underlying sexism on the worksite, and that it needed to change.

I was satisfied with what they had said, and was happy that they had addressed the issue. In that circumstance, that was the best course of action. After they spoke, more people figured out that it was my blog that spurred that conversation. To my face, everyone seemed to have a pretty positive reaction to it. I had one negative comment on my blog, but I dealt with it, and I’m okay with it. The boys who wrote it needed to hear what I wrote and what Pastor Tina expressed. Even though they disagreed with it, they needed to know that they deem as seemingly harmless jokes are wrong.

Despite what you may have thought based off of my last blog post, Mission Week is still and will forever be one of my favorite weeks out of the whole entire year. I love it. It’s a week where I can help better my little corner of the world, build upon my relationship with Christ and spend time with some of the best people I know.

I did not let my week be dominated by what I had written and the ripple effect it caused. I am still happy I wrote it, because nothing ever changes if no one ever says anything. I’m pleased with the after effects of what I wrote, because it pushed everyone into an uncomfortable conversation.

After the week was over, and I was talking to my Mom about it, and she mentioned something that really got me thinking. Pastor Tina is a feminist in her own right by being a pastor. In such a male dominated field, and in a job where many denominations don’t even allow female pastors, she’s a bad*ss just by following what God has called her to do. It made me realize how many feminists I really know, who are quietly or not-so-quietly challenging the status quo and improving not only their lives, but the lives of those who will come after them. And I love that.

*M’Kenna is a sweet young woman who was the sort-of nurse throughout Mission Week. She was Pastor Tina’s pastoral intern this summer and meeting her was one of the best things to come out of writing my blog post. She was there when I needed to talk and she gives great hugs. Getting to meet her kind, strong, feminist and God-loving heart was one of the greatest blessings of my week.

Another Note: A few people commented on FaceBook wanting to know where all of the adults were when a few of the comments I mentioned happened. There were 36 teenagers and 9 adults. The adults couldn’t be everywhere at once, but they tried their best. As the oldest group, we were given a special project. At the ages of 17 and 18, they shouldn’t have to babysit us anymore. We should know by now what is appropriate to say and do.

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