Can I Be Absent Today?

Lessons from Erik and Melissa Hall, a Journey family who moved to South Africa to be missionaries.

I think I might be the worst missionary on the planet.

I miss home every other day. I miss my house and my neighbors. I miss my friends and family. I miss Jax and Grace’s friends. Erik misses his job terribly and his long rides to work on the bike. I daydream about having coffee at Jubala with a friend or going on an early morning run with another friend. I daydream about shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and sitting on my back porch. I daydream about the day when I don’t need to homeschool (Homeschooling is hard people!). And the Lord above knows that I daydream about a vacation and about rest.

I stress about our finances and agonize over every purchase…do we really need this? Can we do without that? Can these socks be worn one more time before Grace’s entire foot breaks through the hole?

I stress about my kids making the transition back with school and soccer teams and boy scouts and just life. I stress about the kids we will have to leave behind.

I push myself to the point of exhaustion because there is always something that needs to be done or someone that needs to be fed and I have a problem saying no. Erik and I are doers and we carry more than our share of projects, problems, and tasks. I get frustrated with Africa sometimes. My American brain can’t compute African logic.

Aren’t missionaries supposed to be Jesus super-heroes? Aren’t missionaries supposed to be joyful always? Aren’t missionaries supposed to be free from stress, worry, frustration, and longing?

Aren’t missionaries supposed to keep all of this to themselves?

What I have found is that we are who we are no matter where we are in the world. Whatever our strengths and weaknesses are at “home”, they are the same on the mission field. I didn’t all of the sudden become “super” and lose my weaknesses when I crossed the ocean and life still happens…dirty dishes, laundry, school, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. AND the mission field is not some far off place that some people are called to…it truly is wherever we are at the time.

Erik and I know we are where we are supposed to be right now but it isn’t easy. We will come “home” when our work here is done but that doesn’t necessarily mean when ALL of the work is done. God is using us for a specific purpose and a specific season. We have learned to hold our plans loosely because things change. Time is relative on the mission field and God knows the length of this chapter in His story. But if I get too caught up in the future or the past, I will miss so many things that He wants to show me right now.

The reality is that we are all missionaries…in Raleigh or in Africa, we are meant to love others, serve others, and tell them about Jesus. Perhaps the most important quality of good missionaries is that we stay fully present where ever we are and allow God to show us what’s next.

I’m working on looking ahead less and looking up more especially on the hard days. Being absent is not really what I want. What I want is to be fully present…everyday and always to the blessings, lessons, and people that Jesus puts in my day.

    “Go make disciples of all nations…” – Matthew 28:19

    “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – Philippians 2:13

From South Africa with love,

Melissa Hall

3 thoughts on “Can I Be Absent Today?

  1. Good morning Melissa, I was fairly new to Journey, when you all left, so I never met you all! Let me just say I love your realness, I love your heart for The Lord and I could feel it as I read this blog. I have a brother in law and all his children who are missionaries to the Italians! They have worked for 41 years with the people there and have never given up! Their mission work exhausts me when I am there! They waited for God to open doors as only he could do! And God did, all the faithfulness to his work has paid off with souls saved and growing it is truely a blessing to see, from a huge TV ministry, to sports camps, to daily meeting needs of the lost! I am saying this to you because I know your labor is not in vain! God sees it all! I am sure there are times of sheer exhaustion but just reading what you wrote God loves you so much he sent you to a place that only you could reach those people! What a blessing that he chose YOU! I will pray for you and you family, thank you for your transparency , your sharing your heart. May you be in encouraged just knowing God holds you and your family in the palm of his Hands! Phil 4:10-13 God bless you as you serve our God doing the most important thing you will ever be called to do “reaching the lost for Christ”! In his name I will pray, Duane and Jeanne:)

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. It’s good to read that you’re taking each day as it comes from God and trusting Him for the next. Had He wanted us to live in the past, He wouldn’t have written, “Forgetting those things that are behind …”; He wants us to live for the day He’s given us with the promise that He knows His own, knows and feels our struggles, fears and concerns, and He will never leave us or forsake us.
    – gdw

  3. Thanks for sharing, Melissa. It’s so encouraging to hear that in the midst of all the distractions that take many of us moms of course, you are truly staying on mission. Your story is inspiring to me and I thank you for sharing.

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