Monday, May 13, 2013

Small talk, Small Worlds, and Mysterious Ways

“So, what do you do?” 

It’s the basic small talk question in any group and most of the time, I dread it. I am often hesitant to tell people I have just met that I am a missionary because you can never be sure what kind of reaction you will get. 

However, the question is usually inevitable and, and as a missionary, it seems particularly sinful to lie about being a missionary. 

So my standard response goes something like this: “I’ve been art teaching at Lexington Christian for the past four years, but this school year, I am working there part-time as a sub [albeit this part is mildly misleading; I am there almost every day] because I am preparing to move back to Kenya, where I used to teach.” 

The questions and comments after this vary a bit, but most ask what I teach in Kenya, how long I was there, if it’s safe, etc. etc. Often people will mention other missionaries they know and often ask if I know them. 

(Once upon a time, I was tempted to laugh at this assumption that missionaries around the world all knew each other by name, until a gentleman I greatly respect asked if I knew some missionaries he had known decades ago who served in Indonesia--on the other side of the world from Kenya--and, as it turns out, I DID know them. Their daughter and her family were my upstairs neighbors in Kenya and their grandsons some of my favorite students. Since then, I’ve quit rolling my eyes.)

However, I think I cringe when telling people I am a missionary because I dislike what is all too often a sudden sense of awe and admiration. 

“Africa?! Wow!”

“That’s incredible! Isn’t it dangerous?”

“I could never do that!”

The truth is, any admiration for me is hardly deserved. 

I serve a great big God who has an amazing and mysterious plan far greater than anything I can begin to understand. And He lets me--little, flawed, absent-minded, stubborn, prideful, all-too-often impatient and critical me-- be a part of it. That’s all. And what’s more, I don’t do it alone. I couldn’t. Missionaries can be missionaries because people back home are part of the team. You guys are our prayer warriors, our encouragers, and our financial supporters. We are missionaries because you are, too. 

And for that, I am overwhelmingly humbled and grateful. Thank you.

(This post was something I have been thinking about for a while, but I read this article last week entitled "Quiet Heroes" and it got the wheels in my head turning a little more about people in ministry. Thought I would share. )

I realize this picture has little to do with the blog post, but I've always liked it and 
decided this post needed a picture. Isn't her smile beautiful?