This past week, after hearing from several missionary friends on the field, I’ve been reminded how challenging missions can be. Three things necessary in missions work are flexibility, faithfulness, and a big sense of humor. In short, the motto of a missionary must be semper gumby — always flexible.
One missionary family learned this week that after selling all their possessions, doing a year of language training, going through many trials, and finally settling in a South American country for the past two years to begin church planting, they have been notified by their missions agency they will be reassigned in the next three years to a new, unreached people group, relocate to a new culture, and probably have to learn an entirely new language. As Solomon once said, “the mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)
Another missionary family, in a completely different corner of the globe, shared some of the quirky realities of living in a different culture…
Living here means…
* …you fear any amount of bathwater getting into your mouth may have a serious adverse effect on your health.
* …there’s not a dishwasher in our whole city.
* …year after year, I never have to drive a car!! I really like this!
* …when we do get in a vehicle, we don’t have carseats or seat belts. Just guardian angels.
* …no Mexican food. My kingdom for some nachos!
* …no carpet. I really like this too!
* …never wearing shoes more than 2 feet inside the door.
* …the inside of your friends’ homes are only 30 degrees (like outside) since they don’t want to pay for electricity costs, even if it’s accessible.
* …buying a box of fireworks for 12 cents.
* …you can pick your nose in public and no one minds. (Can’t pick your teeth though.)
* …it’s acceptable to ask anyone about their age, salary, rent, and even their diarrhea problems.
* …you don’t have to stand in line. It’s every man for himself.
* …no worries if you forget your deodorant, everyone else did too.
* …looking 360 degrees every time you cross the road.
* …never watching TV (it doesn’t speak English).
* …it’s very very easy to say the wrong thing and cause much laughter.
* …dear friends are dearly missed, new friends are dearly treasured.
I’m grateful how both of these families are putting their love of Christ above their love of comfort, their compassion for souls above their craving for security. These are men and women of whom the world is not worthy (Heb. 11:38). May God bless them, and keep them semper gumby — always flexible.