Thursday, February 5, 2009

Missiology, Visioneering, and Making a Difference

I work for a Christian mission organization. I don't know if I've ever stated that here before, but there it is. While I realize that a well-run mission organization is often like a regular business, there are days when I look around me and say, “This is an entirely different animal.” Today was one of those days. Today was also one of those days when I accidentally put my underwear on inside-out, but that's another story for another time.

In preparation for our coming newsletter, I’ve been scrolling through our picture archives at work, literally thousands of photos, looking for just the right set for our next publication. While wandering through a bog of Peru prints from six years ago, I saw in the thumbnails (small, picture previews) that there were a few promising shots of our team members with a goat. I thought to myself, “Aha! Now here’s a potential gem.”

In the stream of whining issuing forth daily from my office, you may hear some complaints about Christian buzzwords, about faulty thermostats, about traitorous printers, about goat pictures. Goat pictures. One of my tasks at work is to organize a spare change drive in elementary school classrooms. We collect jars of spare change from the kiddies, and then we use the money to buy goats, life-changing goats, for poverty-stricken families in India. This is perhaps my favorite part of my job because it has such quick and clear results. A family is poor and cannot afford milk. The next day they have a goat and milk and mohair for making things. The only thing I don't like about organizing the fund drive is that we have zip, zilch, zero usable pictures of families with their goats. We have a few prints scanned in from ages ago, but the people in the pictures always look like they’ve just chased a nasty hangover with three healthy doses of castor oil and a glass of beet juice. We do not have good goat photos, so it's difficult to create promotional materials for the project.

So, my spirit soared when I discovered the goat photos in Peru, particularly because one shot included a man smiling and hugging the goat. Saints be praised! I zoomed in to get a closer look at the three pictures. The first showed the goat looking rather grumpy on a leash . “But still – a goat!” I said. Pleased, I moved on to the second. The next photo showed two men standing behind the flayed flesh of some kind of animal, and the record player screeched in my mind. “Wait. What? This can’t be right. No, surely not.” I scrolled back and forth between the two photos. “No, I know from the thumbnails that the goat is some kind of pet. The guy hugs it, for heaven’s sake.” I was right, and by “right” I mean “wrong.” The third picture showed the man smiling next to the goat with his arm wrapped around where the neck should have been, but of course his hands would have to be on both sides of the goat’s head in order to carry the head around with him. So, yes, we have a photo of a person smiling beside a goat – the goat is just immortally challenged and in pieces.*

I do not work for a marketing company or at the Prestigious, Yuppy & Rich law firm. Our photos do not include executives in suit and tie examining financial reports and making conference calls from their glass offices. We have goats, and personally, I’d rather have the cashmere goat than the cashmere sweater, even when the goat is not in, ahem, pristine condition.

That said, I ain’t lookin’ at another photo for a week.

*For clarity, I feel the need to state that this unfortunate beast was not one of our India goats.


Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...


Headless goat.


I bet he wondered if he'd ever get ahead in life.


Anonymous said...

two things:
1. Inside out underwear is much better than backwards underwear (don't ask how that happened)
2. Goat vs. Goat. The immortal first film by Jonny Walls.

Emily said...

Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about the goat video! Although technically, you know, it was called "Goat punching other goat."