Sorry for the long absence! Sometimes I get bogged down or am simply uninspired. However, I came across this fantastic article that I want to share with you. It’s rather lengthy though, so I am going to break it down point by point. There is so much to digest in it, that this will also allow some thoughts to percolate rather than trying to take a drink from the proverbial fire hose!
The whole article, by Joe Holman can be found here, as well as on my personal Facebook page here, if you’d like to read it all at once. He said everything so well that I figure there is no sense in trying to do a rewrite. I might add a few notes of my own, but I’ll put those in a different color and font. So, without any further ado, here is the introduction and first point of “Ten Things That Your Missionary Will Not Tell You”.
‘I am going out on a limb here, so I have to put some disclaimers up in advance.
Disclaimer number one…I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! This blog is pointing out the bad aspects that you will not normally hear us say. It does not mean that I am unhappy or unfulfilled.
Disclaimer number two…I am speaking of feelings and perceptions. I know what the Bible says and can give a counterpoint to each of these. For example, when I share how we feel about shortchanging my children, I know that there are 100 positive things that people can point out to me. I am sharing our heart, how we feel. I don’t need anyone to send me a Bible lesson. 🙂
A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog with this title. It was pretty good, and got me to thinking. So, no copying, but there is some overlapping. Here is what your missionary will not tell you in their newsletter or at your church mission conference. Here is a little of the dark side of missions.
1. Sometimes, most of the time, living in another culture is hard.
Your missionary will talk about the joy of cross cultural missions and going into all the world. What they won’t tell you is that it isn’t fun most of the time. I was first exposed to this while on a short term trip to Ghana. I was invited to a missionary going away party. A nurse from Canada was returning to her home country after serving on the mission field…get this…for 40 years. She had come to Ghana as a 20-year-old and was now going ‘home.’ During the conversation I asked her how come she was saying that she was going, ‘home.’ If you have lived for all of your adult life, slightly over 40 years, in Ghana and only visited Canada every four years…then isn’t Ghana your home? She told me that no matter how incorporated you are into the culture, no matter how good your ministry, no matter how accepted that you are by the people…you are not one of ‘them.’
I have now been in Bolivia for eight years. I am fluent and have a great ministry here. I love what I do. But I am not at home. I am not a Bolivian. I do not share their cultural history or family ties. When I go to someone’s home to celebrate a birthday or wedding, I am the white guy. I am the stranger. I am the foreigner. When they begin to laugh about family memories or tell stories about relatives, I just smile at the right time. I do not belong. When I go to ‘La Cancha,’ our market place, children stare at me. I had a man visiting us from the States tell me when we were there, “This is weird, we are the only white people in sight.’
It gets old being a stranger. It is hard to not be in the group. It isn’t fun to always be noticed.”
Okay. So there is point #1. Let me know what you think about what he said in the comments!