I am sometimes asked what it's like to be a missionary (mostly when I am in the US). There is nothing else on earth like it. I consider myself to be a "Servant of the Most High God". That is my calling.
To try to tell you what it is like is actually very difficult, because it is so multi-faceted. It's NOT like the Peace Corps (well, not all the time). It's NOT like the military (well, not all the time). It's NOT like Diplomatic Service (well, not all the time). It's NOT like ex-pat work (well, not all the time. It IS rewarding. It IS dangerous (at times). It IS hard. It IS easy. It IS lonely. It IS overwhelming. It IS challenging. It IS wonderful. It IS exciting. It IS frustrating. It IS stressful. It IS very stressful.
- Rewarding: there is NOTHING in the whole world like seeing the faces of people, or an entire village receive the Gospel or a portion of the Bible in their own language for the very first time in their life.
- Dangerous: you can take all the contingency training you like but NOTHING will prepare you to have REAL AK-47 shoved in your face. 3 days of pretending at MLC just isn't going to cut it.
- Hard: when the kids pull out the "Grandma" card, or the grandma's pull out the "I'm missing their entire childhood" card. That is very, very hard.
- Easy: seeing the best the world has to offer and making really great relationships and fun contacts all over the world.
- Lonely: at times, no one seems to be able to really "connect" with you and you can feel isolated and alone, even in a city of millions.
- Overwhelming: realizing that if you swerve the wrong way, you could send 2 or 3 dozen people screaming into eternity without the Lord. Realizing that even with a lifetime language learning, you'll ALWAYS be a foreigner, an outsider.
- Challenging: trying to live and function in a culture that is hostile to your presence and looks at you as a threat to culture and religion. Trying to bridge that gap with the Gospel.
- Wonderful: seeing people's lives and even whole villages change with the new knowledge of and life in the Living Word.
- Exciting: being a part of the cutting edge of missions; knowing that what you are doing is actually making a difference for the Kingdom of God.
- Frustrating: seeing people make bad decisions/choices which bring about a negative effect on your work, other's work, or the church in general.
- Stressful: trying to learn yet ANOTHER language in order to make relationships, etc, knowing that the foundation that you lay in the beginning months make all the difference in years to come, but having to deal with all of the above, plus culture shock in those first few months.
- Very Stressful: did I mention language study and culture shock? add in having a baby overseas. That'll put you right over the edge.
I love being a missionary. If I ever had to stop being a missionary, I really have no idea what I would want to do. I see it as "who I am".
I'll write more about this later.