Monday, March 26, 2012

Funny Ideas About

Missionaries

Stereotypes are easy  to create.  Lumping people together has been a habit ever since the dispersion of mankind into tribes at the Tower of Babel.  Titles are pretty easy headlines to come by as well.  It takes diligence to separate individuals from groups and appreciate the diversity within a given group and discover that there is a lot more to a person than what is seen on the surface.

For example:  It seems that Pam and I have both been classified as missionaries.  But, do we fit the same profile?  Hardly.  For those who know us we are the perfect compliment to one another.  God was so good and so gracious to give us to each other.  I usually wear my emotions on my sleeve and freely express myself... sometimes without much forethought, followed by a generous amount of regret.  Pam is steady and can take a LOT of time to consider something and get back to me when I've just about forgotten what it was we are talking about.  I trump her in the humiliation department more often as a result.

I'm not sure what kind of funny ideas some may have about missionaries.  From my experience I suspect that some people think that missionaries are either super spiritually qualified people so they get to go and live in strange places across the ocean ... OR ... they are so super UNspiritually disqualified that God has to hid them deep in the bush of Africa.  I suspect that Pam and I find ourselves somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.  For sure we are not perfect people and we are a work in progress.  I can tell you that Pam is not stuck in a complaining mode and that she seldom does any complaining ... at least not about Africa, Africans, and the African culture.  She loves Africa ... which is a good things since it is the context the Lord is using to transform us.

Pam with friend Jodi and her husband Justin
Having sad all of this, I found a recent email, my bride sent to a friend, refreshing, as Pam gave her a glimpse past the the external walls of her soul.  I asked Pam if I could reprint it, verbatim in my blog, so people who read about us and classify us as "those missionaries in Africa" could get an enhanced version of who we simply are as people.  It was a request that required a great deal of vulnerability, but I see Pam embracing openness more and more. After her usual time to consider it, she said yes.  Of course it is personal, but we want you to get a peek at the real us ... not for sympathy, but for reality, with the hope that you will continue to see the Lord for spiritual transformation in our lives. Both of us vacillate between  living in the reality of who we are as sons of God and wandering away from home and behaving like an orphan.  Thank you for loving us, forgiving us, and praying for us.
Thank you Jodi.  I'm currently on a learning curve.  With all the power outages, water shortage, and batteries waiting to be charged, communication back home has been at best sporadic.  My poor Mom has not heard from us through ANY of the modern technology available.  So I finally wrote a loooooooong letter in Word document so that I could just send it quickly whenever the power came back.  So.  I just poured out my heart to my dear Mom, who I know loves me and can listen to any and everything I have to say ....unfortunately when I sent it the next morning, I clicked on the wrong email post from her and my 'reply' to her went out to our entire church prayer group ...by Mistake!  Ooops!  Oh well.  If they are a prayer group, they might as well know how to pray for me, right?  It wasn't bad.  Just not what I planned.  Got some interesting feedback from it. It did expose some of my selfish heart. (fortunately, not ALL of it) :)
Then a day later, I had a long talk with Peter and Jeff about the culture and being 'white' and expected to NEVER run out of money for ANYTHING.  It was a tough talk.  I was pretty close to the edge of just dumping some of my sour thoughts on anyone.  But I had some questions that I wanted answers to.  It all started because Paul and I were invited to a church as guests because we are friends with the Dove Voice Band and the Dove were invited to sing on Palm Sunday.  The church is in towards Kampala.  As Paul and I discussed it, we realized who all would expect to go with us and what would we do if we wanted to eat after?  You can guess where we ended up.  If we want to do what WE want to do, we have to pay for EVERYONE.  And no one EVER offers to help in any way.  So I went down that road of 'EVERYONE' and 'Always' and that is a bad road. :)
In the end, I had to deal with my own expectations and the reality that God is the one that always interferes with MY plans.  How can a missionary wander so far from where we start?  Anyway, it's been good for me to get back to basics.
Maybe, if some of this was beginning to surface while you were here, let me please apologize and ask your forgiveness.  I'm still a work in progress.  And I'm so thankful God has brought me here to a place that I cannot manage, so that He can manage me.
 
Thanks for thinking of me.  Hope I haven't told you more than you wanted to hear.  I'm just in a confessing mood.  I love you and felt a significant connection with you, even through the 'stuff'.  Take care, Pam


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