I wonder sometimes if people understand what the life of a missionary is like. I think people want to. I think people even TRY to, but I’m not sure that to “understand” is quite the right word. Some may empathize or sympathize or over or under dramatize or glamorize the life of missionaries. Don’t get me wrong, I did too! I have to catch myself thinking how cool I am that I get to be a missionary! Circumstances and situations quickly put me in my place and bring me back to my reality that I am the same as any other mom, wife and follower of Jesus. Fallen, messy, sin-filled and struggling to keep my head above water just like everyone else.
So, all of this gave me the idea that maybe instead of thinking that everyone knows or wants to know or DOESN’T want to know what mission life is all about, that maybe I could do my part to help give a little insight in to our missionary life.
As we visit churches during our home assignment (what used to be called “furlough” or “deputation” or “itineration”), we get a lot of different questions. We expect this and welcome it as it is always a great way to tell people about our life. Inevitably there usually ends up being a question about how has our time been in the States? “Are we ready to go back to Ecuador?” The answer is YES! We are really excited to get back to Ecuador. The kids talk about it almost daily which I am very thankful for. They miss what they know even though they love some much here and we can all tend to be spoiled with certain things. With the excitement and anticipation from the kids, it gives us a little extra motivation and encouragement to jump in to another transition. Most people don’t like transition. I don’t think we are any different. The difference is, is that we spend a lot of our life in transition by nature of what we do. So, in all honesty, although we are so looking forward to getting back to Ecuador we also hesitate a little too. It doesn’t get easier to leave friends and family. It doesn’t get easier to uproot what has become stable and fluid and rhythms of life that bring comfort. It doesn’t get easier to have conveniences of grocery delivery replaced with 3 stores and half a day to get your groceries. It doesn’t…and the list goes on…
So at this point in our journey, being 2 or some months out from yet another transition (return tickets are purchased for June 15th), we make mental notes of the things we want to purchase because we can’t get them in Ecuador. We write notes and letters and make phone calls more frequently knowing that we won’t see people for some time. We want to make every moment count with hugs from family and those best friends that are life friends. Distance doesn’t change them, but miles make the goodbyes harder. We fight off the tears just yet because there may be one more visit or hug or holiday that we squeeze in before we leave so we don’t have to tackle that goodbye just yet. But we want to feel those emotions because it is what makes us remember. We could go numb and not let it bother us. But with the aches of goodbyes, we realize that those give way to life and love and ways of loving that are mysterious and hard to understand. Sometimes the words we want to say may muck up the feelings and words that are left unsaid and unspoken because we know. We know we love each other. We know we are proud of each other. We know, we just know. There are emotions. There are lots of emotions. At this point and on some days we don’t feel them, we may not want to. Other days, like today for me, I realized after an emotional response to something that really what was coming out was the need for stability and rest. Then emotions come from other things and it seems to spiral. Knowing these and naming them are important and necessary. Feeling “all the feels” is important. We say it to our kids and tell them all of those emotions are OK, but we don’t always give ourselves that same type of grace. All those feels are normal in transition, especially multiple transitions. It’s OK. I feel I may just need to look at myself in the mirror and repeat that to myself. “It’s OK”. What you are feeling is OK. Name it. Allow it to stir and set if needed and then talk about it.
So, as you read this, you may think, “wow, I had no idea.” Don’t feel bad, most people don’t and even for a lot of missionaries it may take a while to be able to wrap our heads around these things. As I think about the next couple of months and what we need to do, it gets pretty overwhelming. As I have talked with some people in different conversations, they wonder what we have to do. Well, as we anticipate delving in to another 4 year term, we realize we will be in a place that doesn’t have somethings we love. Simple things really, but things that can bring comfort and care for us. So, we anticipate needing to buy those things. We think about and prepare for being in Ecuador and not coming back all that often so we want to buy clothes for the kids for the next couple of years. We anticipate Christmas and Halloween and Thanksgiving so we try and purchase things for those seasons and holidays that we will likely not be able to get in Ecuador. Birthday gifts, Halloween costumes, Christmas sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc, etc etc. As we anticipate this stuff and have throughout the year, we also anticipate the cost of it. There have been people that have given us clothes which helps so much so we don’t have to buy as much. But we may need to purchase those things. People ask us how they can help and although we aren’t always great at saying what we need, we know there are somethings we need and don’t have the means to buy it all. So, if you maybe have been looking for a tangible way to help us over these next couple of months. Here are some things we need…
GIFT CARDS for places like:
OLD NAVY, KOHL’S, AMAZON, TARGET
Gently used boys clothes size 8-12
Gently used shoes: girls size 11-13, boys size 1-5
Suitcases to take to Ecuador