Confessions




When we moved to PNG 14 months ago, I thought I would never lack for blog topics or things to say. But this past year has been difficult to digest and even more difficult to discuss. I had expectations of what missionary work would be like. Those expectations have slowly given way to reality: the good and the bad. I tried to make sure I was as spiritually prepared as I could be, but cross-cultural living brings up more questions about God’s movement in the world than answers. In some ways, I feel further from God, but I also know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline doesn’t mean punishment, rather “teaching.” Though this year has not been what I expected and it has been one of grief and change, I am learning so much about myself, my family, God’s work in the world, and my place in it. So, for the sake of remembering some of the teaching God’s doing and (hopefully) learning that I’m doing, here’s a list of some of those things in a (sort of) confessional:


  • I thought I wasn’t prejudice. I was wrong.
  • Mission work is mostly willingness to do whatever is needed, even if it seems beyond your skill or knowledge. Especially if your initial reaction is, “absolutely not.” The word “absolutely” is an indicator that you will definitely be doing that job.
  • Learning another language is hard, especially when that language describes everything with three times as many words as English. And mistakes you make with the new language are quite funny to the native speakers. It's good to know the right word for "toilet" vs. the word for "bath."
  • Thanksgiving MUST saturate each day or cynicism and apathy will set in.
  • Christmas shopping in July is a necessity or it might not make it in time. And even if it makes it to the country, it doesn’t mean you’ll see it before Valentine’s Day.
  • Marital issues and arguments don’t stop when you become missionaries. In fact, they are probably magnified and take real intent to manage. Date night might include your spouse making a food from home that you really miss.
  • It IS possible to grocery shop for an entire month. Almost everything can be frozen.
  • Missionaries see changes in themselves far more often than in the people they serve. It's part of God's sense of humor.
  • Being a missionary kid is not like being at summer camp. It’s a paradox. It’s caution mixed with freedom and living in a bubble while in the midst of cultural diversity. It’s a search for identity. An internationally adopted MK is a whole other story.
  • We are not the Saviors. We simply come to bear witness to the Savior.
  • I used to think a six hour flight was long. It is not long.  A sixteen hour flight is long.
  • Missionaries are real people who cry, doubt themselves and their skills, wrestle with their decisions, and make mistakes. They are also living, breathing testaments to grace and forgiveness.
  • There are no guarantees. Be faithful.
  • There are stories of God’s life-changing power all around us. Most of the stories will never make it into a book or a blog. But sometimes, we are privileged to see or hear them.
  • Finding a jar of black olives in the store is worthy of a text back to Station to let everybody know! Oh, and tortillas.  And frozen fruit. And Rolos.
  • There are things that make me angry, and that’s ok. I want to be angry at the things that make God angry.
  • Cable, internet, and power are overrated. But headlamps are a necessity.
  • Salvation is the beginning of the story. People who have been followers of Christ for years are still experiencing the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
  • It is hard to make new friends, especially when I’m becoming more introverted with age. It’s also ok not to be everyone’s friend. 
  • And lastly, for now: Hebrews 12 goes on to say that “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of PEACE and RIGHTEOUSNESS to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” (v. 11-13) (emphasis mine)

Comments

  1. Your honesty is astounding. I so admire what you are dong. I have experienced much of the same in ministry, though I've never been brave enough to volunteer for the foreign missions. The closest I came was working in the inner city. I also have worked in a few Latino parishes, which is a very different culture from the rest of the U.S.

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