Friday, September 23, 2016

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” ― Shannon L. Alder

     It should come as no surprise that for missionaries, depression comes with the territory.  If you Google “missionary depression,” you will be directed to over 600,000 websites dealing with that subject.  As one psychologist wrote, “Missionaries are at a greater risk for depression because of the extreme circumstances and situations they are faced with every day involving life and death, injustice, and bringing love into dark places.”  Well, amen to that.  Still, we knew that going in.  We have seen other missionaries here in our area that have had to go back home because they just couldn’t deal with the depression.  We also know one or two who struggled and fought it—and won.  They are still here, better people now, still serving Christ.  We do have the image in the picture at the right to keep us going.  Christ will always put His arm around us to comfort and encourage, and we so desperately need that.  Here, we don’t have anti-depressants, counselors, therapists, or even close friends our own age to share our pains.  We do have the smiles and laughter of the orphans we feed every day to sustain us.  The “Mungu aka bariki” (God bless you) we hear almost every day from someone we have helped, even if just a little, is always a comfort, too.  So much of what we do is like planting trees whose shade we will never enjoy, pitching small pebbles in pond—never seeing how far or whom the ripples touch that we can’t get much comfort from that.  The isolation and loneliness can get to us, but we have it better than most who have gone before us because of the internet with its email, Facebook, eCards, and live audio and video connection with our children and grandchildren.  But, Paul didn’t have anything to help his depression—and he was depressed, a lot.  Neither did the other disciples.  Neither did Alfred Schweitzer or David Livingstone.  The first Methodist missionary to Africa only lived for nine months in a malarial haze but she founded a school that exists to this day.  See, it’s not about us and our comfort, physical or emotional.  It’s about being obedient and available every single day—because we said, “Here we are, send us.”  We said it with no conditions and asked for no special help.  I’m not trying to make us sound extraordinary because we’re not.  We’re just ordinary folks doing what many, many would do if they could.  We are committed to serving here till we die, and nothing will change that.  All that being said, we do like to get email, real letters and cards in the mail, and small packages (large ones are great—just very expensive to send).  You can send things to us at:

Charles or Karen Wiggins
P.O. Box 21
Bunda, Tanzania
East Africa

There are no postal codes.  You can send pretty much anything, but what Karen would love is make-up and things for her schools, like crayons, colored markers, or just colored paper clips.  John likes Legos and any little electronic pieces even if you have no idea what they do.  Boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are also always welcome.  We really want and welcome prayers more than anything, but some have asked what extra they could do.  Even though it takes a month or more to get things here, just knowing that something is coming gives us something to look forward to with anticipation.  However, if you do decide to send us anything, please, please do NOT put a value on it above $20.  Whatever value you put is what customs will charge us to pick up the package.  One well-intentioned person sent us some school supplies but put a value of $300 on them, and we could not afford to get them out of the post office.  They were later sent back, and we never heard from that person again.  I don’t blame them, but we are poor here, and it is not helping to make us take money that could go to food for orphans to pay postage fees, that’s all.  There are already some wonderful people who send us two or three packages a year, and it’s a big day when those arrive.  You want to cheer up a missionary, any missionary?  Send them something from home, something from you.  It’s like getting a hug when you’re feeling a little down.  Just sending prayers is huge, so don’t think I’m asking for you to spend money on us.  Besides, take a look again at the picture.  We already have some pretty good comfort available, but if you’ve got a little spare cash, a little time, and like going to the post office, we would love to get something in the mail. 

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