Confession #91: I Don’t Want to be a Missionary Anymore (unless you do too)
There are many things I know I am not:
There are many things I try to be, although I daily fall short:
There are things I dream of becoming:
A fluent Creole speaker
A mom who loves cleaning, baking, and handmade crafts
A person who inspires
But here I am.- sitting on my porch, basking in a pool of my own sweat no thanks to the Caribbean sun, and wondering if/when I should wash my dirty dishes today. Not leading, inspiring, or mentoring anyone, not speaking any Creole, and defiantly not calling my kids over to make Easter decorations for our house.
I’m what most people call a “missionary”. Yet, most days I am not so sure if I want that title. Being a “missionary” comes with expectations- expectations from supporters of how I should act, expectations from friends and family of being a super Christian or something, and expectations from locals of having unlimited money, resources, and an obligation to help all.
I get it. Everyone needs a title, something to help identify what it is they actually do in life. I left my home in Tennessee, left my family, left my job. I moved to Haiti with a mission. I live on the financial support of others. Therefore, I guess “missionary” is the obvious go-to response when someone asks me for my job description.
But sometimes, I wish it wasn’t.
Sometimes, when someone asks me what I do, I wish I could simply say: I work with teenagers who grew up without families and help them develop the necessary skills to heal their pasts and prepare them for their futures.
Simple. Honest. And minus the exotic glamour of being an oversees missionary.
Thing is, I know a lot of people who do very similar things to what I do in America. Better, actually. But too often they don’t get the attention I do because they are on the home front, whereas I am in the 3rd world.
Or take today.
Today I slept in because I was awake in the wee hours of the morning cursing the blind rooster next door who thought the sun was rising at 1:00am. I ate breakfast, homeschooled my little ones, and then ate lunch. Thanks to city power gracing us with its presence, I was able to do laundry, plug up my refrigerator, and pump water. Then I returned some emails and updated our organization’s social media sites, did my daily yoga, and then returned to the computer to prepare for an upcoming fundraiser. Then a girl came over to learn how to make mashed potatoes from a box she bought down town. We talked about school while we cooked. She thought the fake potatoes were gross. She gave them to me. And now I am sitting on my porch with one of our boys who just came over to talk to me while I wait for Hunter to bring me a double cheeseburger and ice cream. I’m currently multitasking: talking to this boy, writing this blog, and coloring with my kids. Have I mentioned I rock at the art of multitasking?
Perhaps describing every detail of my day was a bit overkill. But today, I didn’t feel much like a “missionary”. Today I felt like a mom, a homemaker, a fundraiser, and a friend to our teens. I didn’t have any grand adventures. I didn’t save any lives. I didn’t witness any miracles. I just lived life with my people. Simple. Honest. Nothing glamorous or exotic about it (unless you want to count the 1,000,000 mosquitos swarming around my house).
Some days, like today, being a “missionary” is simply living life with the people God put in place around you. Today, being a missionary for me was being a teacher to my kids. Today, it was taking care of things around my house so my family can live in the nice place God gave us. And it was being available for a few of my teens who needed some one-on-one time with someone who loves them.
I want you to know something: We are all missionaries. From the stay-at-home in Utah to the middle school teacher in Tennessee, from the minister in Pennsylvania to the social worker in Texas, from the poor college student to the multi-million dollar business man, from me in Haiti who works with teenagers to the brave men and women in Asia rescuing girls from sex trafficking. WE ARE ALL MISSIONARIES.
I don’t want to be called a missionary anymore. And my reason is this: I don’t want people to think I am better. I don’t want my role in the kingdom to seem anymore superior, because it is not. In the grand scheme of the church body, I am just the nail on the left pinky toe. I mean, probably. But we all are playing our part. All of us. Equally.
From now on, if you ask me what it is that I do, I am just going to tell you I work with 17 awesome teenagers who just happen to be Haitian. Sure, if you let me, I will also tell you all about the incredible organization I work for as well. But you probably won’t hear me say the word “missionary”. I just live life loving the people God called me to love. And I imagine a lot of you are too.
So either I drop the “missionary” title or we all need to start taking ownership of our various missions around the world- in our homes, workplaces, friend groups, and communities. God has placed us all where He desires us to be on mission for His kingdom. He has placed all the people He wants us to love in our path. He has given all of us a part in His body. So let us all be missionaries. Not just me, but you too.