Tuesday, September 25, 2012

8 reasons why missionaries take a break

Sometimes missionaries are criticized for coming back to the States, from the place they are serving.  {gasp}  It's true.   When I started making plans to return to the States, to have my next baby, I was frustrated and sad about leaving my home.  There is comfort in having our own home, our family's schedules and routines.  As the day grew closer to the time to leave I realized how very, very much I needed to return to the States and how important it is for us and our children to come home for a little renewal and encouragement.

With the help of my husband we put together a list of honest, straight-forward reasons we believe that missionaries need to just take a break every few years.

For health How long has it been since I've slept 8 full hours....or even 4 hours? Each unusual sound, each bark of our German Shepherd, each car driving slowly by jars me awake. Last night alone I woke up at least 4 or 5 times to walk through our large home and check each outside door and stare out the windows for a few moments. There is never a complete feeling of security.  A thing like that rests hard on a mama's shoulders.  Another thing is the heat. No matter how adjusted you are, no matter how many cold showers you take you're not going to rest peacefully when your body is hot. Also for the reason, honestly American doctors/hospitals and Jamaican doctors/hospitals are different. Period.

For purity  This might be a little blunt and straight-forward but here you go.  Each time my husband leaves the house he is bombarded by prostitution, sinful lifestyles, poverty, and {whisper} nakedness.  Scantily clad woman call out offers to him...regularly.   No man should have that pressure hanging over him every single minute of his life.  (No matter how beautiful his wife is!) {wink}

For sanity  Life in a third world country isn't like growing up in Mayberry, USA.  There's always going to be some level of "culture shock" spelled STRESS that exists.  Somedays really bad, somedays not very much.  Simple little things like paying the light bill can take all day.  Mail isn't delivered at your door by the cheerful mailman who waves "good morning".  It's standing in line in the sun for 30 minutes to an hour for someone behind metal bars to dig through a box with a "W" on it.... and actually receiving it is kinda like a 50/50 thing.

Milk and bread aren't always available when you go to the market.  A safe place to go and sit just to be around other people isn't always an option.

Driving your vehicle is on roads where there are basically no laws or rules, but police regularly pull you over because of your skin color and expect bribes.

Those we've trusted and helped turn on us. As human beings we need fellowship with likeminded people.

We laugh it off to each other as "the laid back Island life"  but somedays it's just not funny. 

For normality    A person needs to feel like they are not being watched every time they step out their front door.  No matter where I go with my 4 little blondies we stand out.  We are automatically labeled as rich tourists, and as such, and outsider.  So easy to feel like one of my fish floating around in our tank.....in the spot light and under constant observation.  No matter how close you get to the people in your church your culture, backgrounds, and upbringing is different.  There will be many times that you feel alone.

For grandparents  There is a special something between grandparents and their grandchildren.  I've see how hard it is when we drive away and Grandma is crying because it will be years til she can hold them again and they won't even look like the same kid.  I've heard my children beg me to go visit Grandma and Papa not understanding that it's really expensive and longer then just a few hours car ride.  They need each other.

For the money!  You see we have this bad habit.  We like to eat.  Living on an Island where everything is imported is expensive.  I'll stop there.

Next reality, Churches in the States don't always send money like they promise to do.  {Gasp}  Yes, it's true.  Believe it.  Also, sometimes churches in the States have hard times too and and are forced to stop sending you money.  Your deposit comes and bills have to be paid...what's left determines if you're eating rice and beans all month or not.  So we come home every few years to raise more monetary support.

To cure home sick blues  On the field when you're having a rough time or just feeling overwhelmed it's easy to remember how great it was living in the States.  Kinda similar to "the good old days" daydreams.  It's good for missionaries to return to America and after the fireworks of being "home" is over you realize there are issues and stress there too.

For the next generation of missionaries  You can read about missionaries in books and prayer letters on the wall of your Church.  That's good, but nothing stirs hearts like meeting a real life missionary.  Listening to their stories and touching the exotic stuff on their display tables.  We can't continue alone forever, someone has to come help or take our place.  So we return to cultivate other's burdens for the  mission field.

God is good,
(this was a post I wrote about a week before leaving Jamaica)


Christina Zimmerman said...

Love ya Maria! Hoping to get to see ya when we come up for the holidays!

imklvr said...

How sad that there is anyone out there that would criticize you for coming home for a while. And you can bet they have probably never been away like you! Well, we'll just have to pray for them, won't we? God bless you and your beauties.

Luba said...

May the Lord bless your short furlough and refresh your body, soul, and spirit. Thank you for your faithful service to Him in Jamaica.

Urban Stylist In the Country... said...

Thank-you for sharing. You are an AMAZING family!

Tinyla said...

Glad your home for a visit. Hope we can meet up this time! Love ya!!! - Tinyla

Anonymous said...

so glad you were able to visit home.

i have heard people question missionaries having brief visits home/off the field --for whatever reason-- and just wonder if they have any idea what being a missionary is.

thank you for expressing your thoughts so eloquently.
--a kindred spirit

Chrystie said...

I really enjoyed looking around your blog. :) May God bless your family!

Sistergirl said...

As missionaries you have to realive that you also have a season to serve. Maybe you guys were the planters and the Lord need to send someone else to water the field. Culture difference is real and when you feel isolated, alone, sad, worried and fearful its time to go. I pray the Lord will open new opportunities for you and your family.

You don't realize how the preception of money/ riches mean to those who have nothing. At least in the US poor women have welfare in a country that hav e nothing the women will do anything to survive.

Mendi... said...

I really appreciate your realness in this post... Many of the things you mentioned are aspects that "comfortable" people like me have no idea about. Thank you for the way you give...the way you serve...the sacrifices you make in order to advance the kingdom of Christ.

Blessings to you & your family!

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