Monday, October 05, 2009

Missionary Mentality...borrowed from a new friend.

One of our new friends is now living in Tanzania. Please check out Crystals blog. She recently wrote about the Missionary Mentality. Her post really makes sense of some things I have been thinking about lately....reading it will help you see where I am currently...

"Recently, one of my parents (of my kids at school) was explaining to a Tanzanian woman what people often think when they hear she’s a “missionary” in Tanzania. She said they ask, “Do you rescue orphans from under the stampeding hooves of zebras in the Serengeti?!” We laughed, but the overall perspective is not that far from the truth. Somehow, the fact that someone is a “missionary” automatically means that they can perform amazing feats, that mundane normality is non-existent, and that they rise at the crack of dawn to face the 10 impending adventures that the day ahead holds.

I hate to burst your lovely fantasy world, but it’s just not true. The parent I mentioned above stated: “for me, being a missionary means being a mom, being involved in their school stuff, and having to do a lot of administrative paperwork.” Now, this amazing woman works with her husband as the head of YoungLife for all of Africa. If anyone should have an adventurous, exciting life, it’s her! Right? Don’t get me wrong, she gets to see amazing things happen as God works through and in her life, and in the lives of her kids, and all those she meets. But the fact is, normal life is every day and boring, no matter what city or what planet you reside on. It might take a bit longer, or look a bit different. But the habits you form in one place tend to carry over into another, and the things (like grading homework, or trying to figure out what to fix for dinner) that we don’t necessarily treasure in the States are definitely still alive and kicking here in Tanzania as well.

So what, exactly, am I doing here? It turns out that sometimes, the everyday, boring, mundane things can end up changing people’s lives. For example, another set of parents at our school works to translate the Bible into a group of languages in Tanzania. This means sitting down at lots of meetings with people who are familiar with English but fluent in their own language, driving hours to the location of these people (the family lives in Dar so their kids can attend HOPAC), trying to figure out the best way to translate “grace” into 5 different related languages, and cooking dinner for their 4 kids at the end of the day. It means solving issues in the family and encouraging their youngest to wear his shoes at school. And it means, in the end, that 5 different tribal groups will get to read the life-saving message of Jesus on the cross, who was later resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God... in the language they understand best.

This is the kind of mundane work that I want to be involved in! It may not seem all that exciting in the meantime – and struggles are just the same as anywhere else in the world. But it seems we have a choice in what our mundane work profits. And I’m thankful that I get to spend my every day, boring life helping to sow into an eternal perspective of others each day. "

Thanks, Crystal, I could not have said it better myself!