“No, I’m not excited to be here”
“You’re about to leave for Thailand again. Are you excited?” asked more than one person as the day for our departure drew near. At first I found myself tongue-tied, stammering out a vague answer, caught between not wanting to lie, but also not wanting to sound like a “bad” missionary. In truth, the question had caught me off guard. Should I be excited? I wondered.
I suppose traveling to Thailand sounds exciting. After all, what the world sees of Thailand is what the tourism industry wants to be seen: sparkling white beaches, deep blue oceans, delectable exotic cuisine. But lots of things don’t make the ads: deep spiritual darkness, uninterested and irresponsible fathers, rampant sexual abuse.
In addition, certain aspects of a missionary’s life don’t often get mentioned: loneliness, isolation, disappointment, unexpected conflict, the grief of one’s own goodbyes, the grief of one’s children’s goodbyes, the many everyday frustrations that seem to occur every day, the weariness that comes of fighting the same spiritual battle again …
As I considered my response to my friends’ question, I realized what my answer was. Maybe I wasn’t excited, but I did feel ready. Or, perhaps, that I had been readied – prepared, refreshed, filled up by the Holy Spirit and the church, the saints who ministered to us with love and generosity while we were on Home Assignment.
There is a lot I love about this country, our work here, our life here. But there’s also enough struggle that keeps excitement from being my primary emotion about returning.
Are you a missionary? We have this ministry by the mercy of God, therefore we do not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:1).
Are you ministry partners with a missionary? Your gifts of love and kindness and generosity re-fuel and ready your missionary for the work ahead. Your ministering to them flows into their ministry to others.
Am I excited? Not completely.
Am I glad? Yes
Am I ready? By the grace of God and His people, yes.