The other day I was thinking: “If I wrote a story about life on the field, what would I call it?” Before I knew it, my mind filled with image after image, story after story. Maybe you can relate with some of these titles!
Life on the field is full of the unexpected! From being called forward at a moment’s notice to speak to a church you’re visiting, to ending up in a completely different town than you meant to go to, things happen. It’s important to be flexible and look like everything’s fine (even if you really have no clue what is going on or how it happened). These events usually make for great stories later!
From learning how to bucket-bathe (and feel clean afterwards!) to driving on the opposite side of the road and eating curry and rice with my hands, I’ve learned a lot of practical life skills on the field!
There was that time in India that... actually, I still can’t talk about it without my heart racing a little too fast. Let’s just say that what can happen, will happen. They make for great stories but might scare anyone who doesn’t travel often.
Looking silly is going to happen; the best thing to do is embrace it. I’ve found that by laughing at myself, others realise I don’t take myself too seriously, and it instantly makes a connection with them.
I co-led a short-term team in the Amazon Jungle in Peru and we played “20 questions” to guess what we’d just eaten for lunch. It ranged from easy-to-guess, like fish and crocodile, to turtle, monkey and jungle rat!
An easy way to feel like a failure as a missionary is to keep track of all the times you accidentally forget a key cultural practice. I finally stopped counting and remembered to laugh at myself. Every single time I’ve found myself surprised by the grace shown to me from those in my host country. They know we are learning and are willing to help!
Whether it’s going to the grocery store, exchanging money at a bank, or any other easy errand, the logistics of life overseas isn’t always as simple as it seems. They can often require intentional planning. When I led short-term trips in Swaziland, my team lived in the country, so we scheduled once-a-week trips to the grocery store to buy everything we needed for one week for 15 people. If we missed anything, I’d have to walk several miles across town during the team’s ministry time to purchase it—so planning was essential!
It can be rare to find a public bathroom overseas—and even more rare to find with one with toilet paper. “Emergencies” happen; it’s best to always be prepared just in case!
At the beginning of a trip I led in Swaziland, I sat down one day to work on finances when I heard shouting from my girls next door. I thought they were telling “Spider!”, so I returned to my work. It turned out the oven had caught fire and they were yelling “FIRE!”. Oops!
Coming from a Western culture where we have a personal “bubble”, sometimes the physical affection in Latin America (including with strangers and members of the opposite gender) can still feel awkward to me. However, I love how warm and loving the Latino culture is and I’ve learned a lot from it! Now I only get confused when I meet someone who prefers a kiss on both cheeks, as it is usually only one in Argentina.
While in Thailand, I saw a local fruit called rambutan on a counter in my friend’s shop and asked if I could have some (it’s my favorite fruit in Thailand). It was only then I saw the idol behind it and apologised profusely. Thankfully, she understood.
Learning another language feels like it takes a different part of your brain, and it’s easy to confuse words with no correlation to each other. Last week, I asked someone if there was a car accident on the road ahead, but I mixed up “car accident” with “corn”! Needless to say, it was another excellent opportunity to laugh at myself!
Time after time, God has shown me how He never leaves, how He is all-powerful, all-loving and always good. From seeing the lame walk to witnessing His life-changing presence in someone’s life, it is incredibly humbling and exciting to be present in those moments when God is moving.
Serving overseas means sacrifice, both seen and unseen. Sometimes, those sacrifices weigh heavier than other times; sometimes new ones arise after years on the field. We serve a God who understands sacrifice because He gave the ultimate one—and it is always, completely worth it, no matter the cost.
Absolutely, 100% of the time. He makes all the difference in the world.
What are some titles you’d use to tell about your time on the field? Let us know in the comments below!