I came across this blog title the other day- and thought - who stole my life and wrote a blog based on it? I need this material.
Turns out she - and her husband- have figured out a few things about missions that I'm still learning. They've lived a bit more life than me - I still have to make my way through some of these lessons- I'm thankful for the validation that these feelings are shared though.
So, yea, I feel like the very worst missionary - and I think being honest about it is best. I think Jesus would want me to be honest. Paul was honest - sometimes he had a rough go of it out on the mission field - and his stuff made it in the Bible - so I think its ok.
I feel like the very worst missionary. Most days I wonder if I really help anyone at all. I cry (literally) at the sight (or mere thought) of a mouse in my home. I cry all the time. I manage to butcher this beautiful language - yesterday I was singing a Haitian hymn during our weekly prayer meeting and I was definitely not positively contributing to our ministry. I get annoyed with the teenage students who, gasp, act like teenagers when I'm trying to teach. When I am tired - and just need a nap - I do not have a servants heart about manual labor or administrative tasks. I live in a third world country - and still I manage to be bratty enough to whine about first world problems.
How did I get here? The feelings I had about coming to Haiti - they were all true. and real. If I knew on Christmas day I would find a giant tarantula in my dresser, I would have still boarded the plane. If I knew I would face this kind of struggle - -
I'd still be here.
So I keep wondering - where did that go? Knowing the reality of the situation - I would still feel the same - I would make the same choices - in fact this whole 'turn my life upside down' thing was never really a choice. This was what God told me to do and saying yes wasn't easy - but I knew deep down there was no other choice.
So where did that yes feeling go? Did I cry it out? Did I use it all up during the fundraising process? Did the mice take it away? It must have been the mice.
Truthfully, I don't know where it went. I don't know why I don't wake up everyday smiling, ready to bask in the Caribbean sunshine and complete any and every task God lays in front of me. Instead, I crawl out of bed, head immediately for the coffee and grasp for inspiration from Scripture. Some days I get it, for a minute - and then I have to translate what my cook is saying to me and frustration wins the battle.
So, what do I do about this? I have to do something - I'm telling my supporters that I think I'm a bad missionary. It's not good for business - assuming anyone is still reading this instead of calling up everyone I know and telling them I need to leave Haiti (I hope no one is doing that.) So, I've decided to drop the whole missionary thing all together - the word - not my life here. I never liked the term - I hated it. It felt like people put me on a pedestal or thought I put myself on one - I slyly avoided the term "missionary" when talking about my cross-cultural move. I think sometime during my training at MTI I embraced the term. It didn't have any connotations with my new friends - it was what God called us to do. I was around really cool people who were being obedient - and they were missionaries and it was fine. So I embraced the term - I took on the job - and then I got on the actual mission field and it feels like as a "missionary" this is my mission field - and somehow the overwhelming needs became to big of a responsibility. What I'm grasping for here is the difference between "Christian" and "Christ follower". I am a Christ follower. I follow the example of Christ, loving people - giving grace. It's the way I live my life - not my job. I do not want to be defined as a "christian" - most of you don't either, "christians" get a bad rep.
People act different around "christians" - and around missionaries. People tiptoe around "missionaries" - and say "wow" a lot. Feel free to keep using the term "missionary", just understand that it carries as much connotation as "christian" - "preacher" - or "only child". On a bad day, I'm called 3 out of 4 of those.
God has called me to live my life - a life that follows Christ - here, in central Haiti. That's it. Live life as a Christ follower in central Haiti - that's the only job description I've received from Him. That feels a lot easier than "make a difference".
This is do-able.
God took my life and plopped me in the poorest country in the World - the things I'm best at - are not what He has called me to do. There are a lot of skills needed in this country - I'm not sure I have any of them. Some…'cross culture workers for Jesus' are lucky enough to be called to use very specific skills on the field, which is awesome - some of us, are called to less specific jobs - but we're all called to love.
So, the way I see it - I will take this life God has given me and I will live it in love. I will not love the mouse or the lizards who inhabit my home - but I will love that my cook Madame Da just thinks they're funny. I will not love the process of language learning - but I will love my amazing tutor who tells me I have great Creole, with a straight face. I will not love the pain and suffering I see all around - but I will love the little victories that this amazing ministry provides for people - even when what my eyes see as victory seems few and far between - I will love the victory. I will not love the animal who kept me up half the night trying to get into my house, but I will love…ok, I got nothing. I will not love the classically bad teenager attitude - but I will love that there are teenagers here who beat the curve and smile all the time (no really, boys who I think smile in their sleep - and I love them). I will not love the loss of convenience but I will love the ability to problem solve in a whole new way. I love the lesson of learning to let go of stuff.
I will live my life as a follower of Christ.
It is not glamorous - and it won't feel like I have a lot to report on - but if love is being spread, as followers of Christ, we have to call that a win. If I leave this place and just one person feels more loved than when I arrived - I consider it a victory. I hope God uses my time here to spread so much love - I hope to make a big difference - but God is in the business of personal relationships - and pursing those will make me a very good missionary - or cross cultural worker for Jesus.