That was me. I went on a mission trip and decided that is what I wanted to do with my life. Whenever life at home is hard— I fall back on the fantasy of living in another country.
Now I am here in Tegucigalpa, Honduras— no I’m not living here for good, but I am living in an orphanage of 8 girls and one house mom for two months, and it’s far from a fantasy.
We wake up every morning at 5 am to make breakfast for the girls as they grab it and rush off to school. While I go to work in the neighborhoods, the house mom stays at the house all day cleaning and cooking. When the girls get home they eat an unusually late lunch, do homework, watch some TV and head to bed to begin it all again. Little things like buying groceries or getting needed clothes are difficult since we share a car with the boys orphanage and must bring along all 8 girls wherever we go.
Breaks are rare. As I write this post the girls are pressing buttons on my computer, asking questions, and singing in Spanish. For the house mother, this is her reality. She doesn't go out with friends or shopping for new clothes… her life is not about herself.
I’m not climbing mountains, discovering cures for diseases, or adventuring through new places. Life here becomes much like the routine at home that prompts me to dream of living here.
Now there are some differences in the routine. These aren't normal girls— some grew up stealing so they could buy food, some had prostitutes for mothers, and others were told their whole lives they were worthless. You can imagine the difficulties in raising these girls as they heal from such deep scars.
We have to lock the pantry because the girls will keep eating until they are sick. The house mom told me its a psychological problem because as kids, they never knew where their next meal would come from.
Yes, there are some beautiful moments- slumber parties in the basement, piles of pancakes for breakfast, serving together, and occasional sappy moments. But for the most part…its hard.
Its hard to love those who are hardened.
Its hard to serve when you feel empty.
Its hard to serve without a team of friends.
Its hard to serve when no one is watching.
I thought I had an idea of what being a full time missionary would be like. I realized that mission trips weren't the reality… but I wasn't fully aware of how different that reality was.
My encouragement to you is this:
Realize that mission work is hard— if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Learn to live in the moment and serve where you are because the mundane is what you make it and adventure is waiting to be found in its midst.
My first month here in Honduras has filled me with gratitude for the work of missionaries all over the world, as well as the faithful workers in ministries like POI who serve with everything they have, day after day for a tiny pay check and sparse appreciation.
Work is being done all over the world by so many selfless people. Its not glamorous, the adventure is relative and the fruit is often minimal.
I am overjoyed to see a generation so eager to serve as missionaries— just remember, the struggle is real, but in the midst there is beauty.