Sacrifice of Familiarity
I’m new at this
I’m not a ‘career’ missionary. I didn’t pack a coffin to get here (an old practice carried out under the assumption that it would be shipped back with their remains). I’m not all that ascetic (air conditioning – yes please!). And overall, I’m pretty boring. I just got an invitation to serve in another country and RSVP’d YES before God had a chance to realize He had the wrong guy. Kidding. I love serving in Thailand. I love being here. And I know any mailing mistakes on Heaven’s part was done by some low-ranking deputy angel. Not God. That would be ridiculous. Still, there’s something about moving overseas that I wasn’t expecting (okay, so there’s a veritable amount of stuff approximately equal to the volume of water contained in the Mariana Trench I wasn’t expecting), but ONE thing I REALLY wasn’t expecting was the total lack of familiarity.
Not just tacos
Although…that’s a big one. No, I mean, there’s a very real lack of familiarity when you look at a street sign and a mess of scribbles is looking back at you. Everywhere. Every day. It’s disorienting when you can’t read a menu, or when you can’t passively listen to the conversation behind you at the restaurant about that lady’s cat and how it keep getting into everything. Who knew the ability to eavesdrop could be comforting? Now, out of respect for the cat, I stop listening right then and there, but you get the idea. Even the input we don’t think (or care) about gets used to solidify our ‘world’. The white noise and static have a place. Moving overseas obliterates that noise and all.
So, as missionaries, it’s our job to adapt to the loss of familiarity. We can miss it. We can mourn it. But we have to move on from it. We have to continually be accepting of change – even grateful for it. We have to give ourselves grace for all that we don’t understand, and trust that God ‘didn’t just make a mailing mistake’. Before we left, we were encouraged to get our own words and affirmations from the Lord as to why we’re doing what we’re doing. That’s proved to be phenomenal advice. Why? Because when everything familiar is shattered, the missionary will question why they came. The answer will enable faith.
Guest contributor. Missionary with ” Antioch Missions” who is studying Thai language at the OMF training center in Lopburi.