Awhile ago I was learning about the realities of being a missionary-- ever so slightly starting to see past the glamor and I wrote this post. It's a lesson that has continued.
For awhile I worked for a nonprofit and wrote stories about people who are missionaries, but never leave their neighborhoods and rarely walk on concrete or update their Facebook profile.
I studied abroad and met some missionaries. Except I didn't know they were missionaries because they told me they just happened to live in Costa Rica and her painting class was just how she shared Jesus through art, their community library was because they liked to help people learn English, and their church was because they needed community and encouragement and thought maybe other people would want that too.
"Except I didn't know they were missionaries..."
Then life got mundane at home working a part time job and I met people at a non profit and realized there are about as many Spanish-speakers in parts of my city as in Latin American countries. And there are missionaries who, yet again, don't call themselves missionaries.
So ok, it's a worn out topic. We should all be missionaries. But I was thinking about a few things I do differently on mission trips or Christian service:
Prepare. I prayed over everything. I would expect big things and wake up with a purpose and urgency. I meditated on scripture religiously. It wasn't because of obligation, but rather awareness of my emptiness and need for something to pour out.
Wrote a lot. I shared my stories because I figured people would be interested if I was on a mission trip. Or maybe because I had a story to tell, and normal days living life at home dosen't really seem like much of a story.
Take pictures. A little less spiritual, but I relished in the little moments. I let myself be thankful in the little smiles, the meals, and the sunrises.
Reflect. I let myself think. I thought deeply about why things are certain ways, and what I could do to change them. I did a lot of self reflection and made plans to change things for the sake of others and ultimately for the glory of Jesus.
Rest. I scheduled rest because I knew I needed to recharge-- something I rarely pay much attention to in real life.
Sure, I think some of these things have spilled over into real life, but definitely not all of them. Regardless, they're good question to ask.
How do you live on a mission trip or scheduled Christian service? Why should it be any different than regular life?
There's a difficult side to serving and missions...no matter where you are. When you pour your heart into something it can hurt and burden you. Even in real normal mundane life, loving people deeply and joining a cause bigger than yourself is never neat and perfect. Sometimes you can't switch it off.
You hear phrases like "live-missionally" and it sounds great, but maybe it's a lot messier and more difficult than we can could ever imagine. Maybe when it's void of pretty titles, perfect pictures and step-by-step instructions, it's more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
I know some pretty incredible missionaries-- but interestingly enough, what makes them so great is their complete ignorance to the reality that they are, in fact, missionaries.