So I am new to this whole “Missionary” thing, so it could be that in a few years, I would add or change some things, but for now, here are my thoughts. 🙂
- Patience is a virtue that is much needed. I remember when I first got to Madagascar, I quickly learned that if you got one thing done during the day, it was a success. Coming from the States where a trip to the bank doesn’t even require you to get out of your car and most things can be done online, this was quite an adjustment! The other day Reinier was number 76 in line at the bank. What? He went to have coffee with a friend and came back to find out they were just in the late 50’s. Waiting in line for hours, either in traffic or in an office is just one of those things that come with the territory. I’ll admit that sometimes this virtue isn’t quite perfected in my life, but I’m learning!
- I’m missing my family. When I left the States, my niece was 2 months old. She is now 10 months and is the cutest. Knowing that I know her only from videos and pictures (and she doesn’t know who I am) is definitely one of the hardest parts of being away. And then… my parents and my brother and sister-in-law and my cousins and… I have my days, but I am so thankful for technology, which makes it all a little easier.
- “Fitting in” can be difficult. When I’m here in Madagascar, I’m the foreigner. But meanwhile, back in the States, life is still going on without me. I remember it taking a little bit to adjust after returning from my 5 month stay in Mada. My thinking has changed and so coming back to my old “normal” wasn’t always easy.
- I don’t like asking for money. Becoming a missionary means that you live off of support. You ask people to help you financially. And while we really need the money and sometimes our budget overwhelms us, it’s not that I enjoy posting on Facebook asking people to join on our support team. It can be awkward. Believe me! But it is needed. And I know that giving people an opportunity to be a part of what is going on here is life-changing for them and for us.
- Financial support is more than just about the money. Like I said, asking for money can be awkward. But when someone does support us financially, it means more than just helping us raise a budget for living and ministry expenses. It shows us that there are people behind us, supporting what we are doing here. Knowing we aren’t alone makes all the difference in the world.
- Friendships become even more valuable. The cool thing about the missions community is that I have become friends with people who I would have never had contact with before. I have friends from Switzerland, South Africa, other parts of America, Canada, Korea…. People from all over the world are coming together with one purpose. And you realize that you need each other. Even with our different ministries, we are all in this together.
- I’m still just “me”. I only post positive things on Facebook. I realize that this is the only time that some of my friends “see” me and I don’t want to be complaining every time they open up their newsfeed, even when days are challenging. But I think a lot of times, it’s easy to see the pictures of the kids and hear about the new things happening and think that my life is a constant missions trip or that I’m some super- missionary, constantly saving the world, one child at a time. (Ha!) But unfortunately, the laundry still needs to be done, we have to have groceries, and sometimes, I even take a much-needed nap! I’m still Kristen and real-life still happens…just in Madagascar. 🙂
- Despite its challenges, I love living overseas. If I could afford to travel the world, I would do so in a heartbeat. The cultural differences are challenging, but so humbling. I think in the USA, we have this idea that our way of life is obviously the best. But the thing about living overseas is you realize that “normal” is so relative. You realize that your way of doing things isn’t the only way. It’s an adventure!
- There is no better place to be than in the will of God. I had someone ask me the other day if I felt like I was doing what God called me to do. And I can say without any doubts that this is where I am supposed to be. My life might not look like everyone else’s, but that’s okay. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
- Missions has increased my faith. Whether it’s having no idea how we will make our budget for the month or being completely out of my comfort zone in ministry, there is a constant dependence on the Lord. And you know what? Somehow, He always comes through. He is faithful. And seeing how He has been there for us in the past gives us full confidence in our future.
So there you have it… Confessions of a (New) Missionary 🙂