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,