Pole Dancing on a Mission Trip

There was just one little problemdue to an allergic reaction earlier in the week, I had no voice. I wasnt sure how I was going to be able to contribute to the mission of our weekend if I couldn't communicate with people. At first, I thought I could get by with cautiously monitoring how much I spoke. I forgot to take all the loud techno music into consideration. Overwhelmed with frustration, I began to wonder what I would tell my supporters back at home when they asked for updates. How could I tell them they'd given all that money for me to do nothing? What if I went the entire weekend without the opportunity to have even one meaningful conversation? Why would God send me here knowing I would be useless?

Enter Rex. Rex is a creepy Easter Bunnyish looking mascot costume that our team leaders thought to bring along for the weekend. Don't ask me why. Upon realizing I could no longer speak, they announced it was time for Rex to make an appearance. Unable to argue (and desperate to be considered useful), I allowed myself to be helped into the costume and paraded around for pictures and amusement.

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It was hard to ignore how heavy, sweaty, and humid the costume was, as I questioned the point of the whole thing. If I thought going home and telling my supporters I hadn't been able to speak to anyone because I didn't have a voice would be bad, how much worse would telling them I'd spent the entire weekend dancing around dressed like a creepy Easter Bunny be?

Since there was nothing useful I could do anyway, I decided I might as well trust the leaders and give this seemingly meaningless task my all.

We soon realized that a person dressed in a bunny suit can get away with things a normal person cannot, which led to the ridiculously goofy idea of getting Rex up on to the platform of a neighboring booths stripper pole. Questions began flooding my mind: What am I doing? Is this inappropriate? But then I saw it for what it was: a big ugly bunny dancing (really badly, I might add) next to a pole. There was nothing sexy or inappropriate about it. Nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, it was drawing people in. As I peered out of the mesh screen at all those eyes, I considered how exposed I felt (even with that big heavy costume and my identity hidden).

Thats when I noticed a couple of girls watching and laughing. Girls whose job it was to smile and pose on demand for photos with strangers all weekend. Girls who had to take shifts stepping up on to this platform, actually performing, and truly exposing themselves, all while smiling. As I watched them watching me, I noticed something different about their laughter and smiles. There was something carefree and genuine on their faces and in their eyes. My ridiculously embarrassing antics we're giving them a break, offering them the chance to laugh, a reason to smile in the midst of a weekends worth of forced smiles.

For a moment, I was given this unique and minuscule glimpse into what it must feel like to be so exposed, so on display. As I considered my physical mask, I wondered what was happening behind their own metaphorical maskswhat fears, what struggles, what dreams we're behind those smiles?

Not knowing the answer, I can only thank God for using Rex to bring a smile to their faces, for revealing to me that His power to touch lives is not contingent upon my ability to speak but my willingness to participate, and, finally, for allowing me to be the "someone to make them laugh".

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Posted in Internet Post Date 02/26/2021


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