A Day in the Life of a Missionary
As a couple we try to show our supporters what our work is like, here in Belize. We send out a monthly newsletter, we post updates to our social media accounts, and yet I still get the sense that people have no idea what I do on a typical day. Part of the reason for that is that every day is different, so it can look like a lot of things. You may be tempted to imagine that my life is uber-spiritual or that I am a bona fide saint. Hopefully this account will give you an idea of the practicalities of our life of ministry, and remove all ideas of sainthood.
Relating the events of a day in my life (last Tuesday, to be specific) will give you a peek behind the curtain of what it means to be a missionary. The day started early, feeding the kids and getting them off the school. Our neighbor's kids typically arrive at our house at 7am, because we give them a ride as well. By 8:30, the kids had been dropped off and one of our youth was at our door. Her school had been shut down for an emergency and she needed a place with Wi-Fi to do her work. I set her up with breakfast and she got to work at the kitchen table. I then sat down for a quick Quiet Time.
I received a call from a woman I had never met, telling me her granddaughter was suicidal and asking if I could come speak with her. I made plans to go over to the house later that day, because I was already on my way to meet up with a single mom at the hospital. She had been experiencing pain and suspected kidney stones. I spent the morning with this lady at the hospital, paying for her ultrasound, listening to her woes and offering encouragement. Eddie, meanwhile was meeting with his supervisor for campus ministry. He picked Brooklyn up from school for lunch and got her fed while I finished up at the hospital.
After lunch I dropped Brooklyn back at school, and the others back to their homes and made my way to a nearby village to meet with the suicidal teen. I spent about an hour and a half speaking with the young person and her family members. I learned a bit about her mental health, encouraged them to reconnect with her psychiatrist, spoke with them about spiritual warfare and offered to meet with her weekly, for lay counseling. Next I had to head back to town to pick up Brooklyn from school.
As soon as we got home, Eddie took our vehicle and ran around town preparing for an open house at the university, to take place the following day. I found out then that he had caught the stomach bug that has been going around. I made dinner and checked in on several youth and ladies from church on my phone. Eddie was in bed during dinner, so I drove AJ to volleyball practice.
When I got back from dropping off AJ, Eddie was up and baking cookies for the open house and some church friends had stopped by for a visit. I sat with my friend, as she unloaded her frustrations and concerns. Her kids used our Wi-Fi and ate some dinner. Eddie baked and baked and baked. While they visited I did some clean up and washed the dishes.
By the time AJ needed a pick up from volleyball around 8:15, I was exhausted and escaped to my bedroom to rest. A Seattle friend of 25 years joined me virtually in watching a reality show on Netflix, helping me disconnect from the needs around me and just laugh. Eddie got the kids to bed and we shut off the light at midnight. Man! It was a DAY!
As you can see, so much of our ministry is relational and unpredictable. These are what fill our days between Bible studies and church services. Most of our costs go into sharing food and filling up our gas tank. We don't post pictures of hospital waiting rooms, sick beds or empty pantries. We don't post the identities of the people in our lives who have less than us, during their time of need. These are hidden things; sacred moments.
35 "I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger. And you invited me in. 36 I needed clothes. And you gave them to me. I was sick. And you took care of me. I was in prison. And you came to visit me."
Society often values people based on what they produce. Having a legitimate or respectable job is an extension of that. If the work you do is valuable, they pay you well. If it is deemed unimportant or entry-level, you don't earn as much. So, how does one categorize a missionary? Where do we rank on the spectrum of important or worthwhile careers? Are we simply providing a service, like fast food workers? I'll let you be the judge.
As missionaries we rely on individuals to see the value of the work we do and to prayerfully support it. It's always a challenge to balance how much we talk about our finances, not wanting to alienate our friends and supporters. As it stands, our support dollars don't cover our monthly expenses, let alone savings for emergencies or travel. We don't have paid time off or a retirement plan. We are dependent on the Body of Christ, and so are those whom we minister to. They rely on us being there for them with a bowl of food, an open door, with a medical fee, a ride to church or a kind word.
Now that you've seen what a day in my life looks like, will you consider telling a friend about that missionary you know in Central America? Will you share our needs with your Small Group or Bible Study and take an offering? Will you consider supporting us on a monthly basis? In so many ways we see God at work in what we are doing here. I hope that you do too.