Friday, October 26, 2012
Quote of the Day: “It's the toughest job you'll ever love." recruiting slogan for the Peace Corps (applies to missionaries, too)
Missionary work is not for everybody. There is a very high emotional price tag associated with it that some ignore and some find too difficult. You cry and laugh and hurt and get angry every day, several times a day. You are angry at the conditions, the government policies, the lack of your own ability to truly fix things, and you are angry at yourself when you continue to make mistakes. All missionaries make mistakes, most of which are caused by the cultural differences that you just never quite completely comprehend. In our training (all three days of it) we were warned that we had better be able to laugh at our own mistakes and learn from them or we would never succeed. They were right, of course. Most folks living in third world countries think that all Americans are millionaires, and, relative to their own incomes, we are. Therefore, if we help a little, sometimes we are expected to help a lot and to continue to help for the rest of our lives. We have seen many, well-meaning people, offer to help others with school and other expenses and then, upon returning to the U.S., they discover that they can't follow through. We've seen first hand the hurt and disappointment this causes. Across cultures, an offer to help a child with schooling means one thing to the offerer and quite another to the one receiving the gift. I thought that I had learned how to do this fairly well, only to be reminded today that I still have a long way to go. I made one gift, only to discover that the recipient believed I would now buy them anything and everything they wanted. It hurt to set them right because the fault was mine. Happily, there is always the joy that so many we help show us and the true gratitude that so many both show and feel that it makes up for the hurt from our own mistakes. We do so many things right that the ones we get wrong seem huge by comparison. We must trust that God will guide us and that we will allow Him to do so. I'm not yet able to laugh at this latest mistake of mine, but I have learned from it. Thanks be to God for daily opportunities to serve Him and to care for His children.