Missionaries or not?

One day Lia and I were hanging out in our living room back in Doma just talking about life stuff and what we were doing in Africa and she said, “we aren’t really missionaries.”  I love talking with my daughter and getting her thoughts on things, so this was going to be good, I could tell.  So I asked her what she meant by that.  Lia went on to say that I don’t preach at the Shona church, I don’t lead Bible studies, I wasn’t planting a church, the normal stuff we think of when we hear the term ‘missionary.’

 

I took a moment to reply, always a good idea but something I don’t do enough.  I told her that those things are all good, they are what missionaries typically do, but they aren’t what I felt ‘called’ to do.  Preaching is a gift I don’t have.  I don’t intend to plant a church, there are plenty in the area and I’d rather join one of them than add to the number of churches.  What I do, is try to live in such a way that people get a glimpse of Jesus in me.  I asked her if she remembered what was said at church last week.  She couldn’t.  I said that I couldn’t either.  I like to think that the men I work with listen to me and remember what I say, but the reality is more likely that they remember how I act, how I treat them, what I do, rather than what I spout off each day.

I get that this could sound like a cop out, but I don’t think it is.  Lia and I went on talking about it and I said that everybody is watching us and seeing what we do, to see if what we say jives with what we do.

We talked about the term ‘MK,’ Missonary’s Kid.  In Christian circles it can have a negative connotation, usually meaning that the person is a little screwed up from being dragged by their missionary parents to some far off country, and made to feel that their parents’ ‘calling’ is more important than them.  I told Lia that someone said one day that the term should really be Missionary Kid.  Lia and Naomi both have roles to play at Eden Children’s Village. God will use them just as much as He uses us to communicate His love for people.

Lia went off looking sort of pensive after our chat and came out to the veranda to sit with me the next day after work.  “You know Dad, I do think we are missionaries.”   I asked her what changed her mind.  She said that she had just thought about it some more and realized that Jesus showed who He was by what He did, not just what He said. Cool.

I’m not a theologian or a deep thinker, I’m far too pragmatic and perhaps too simple for that and I’m okay with that.  I’ll leave preaching and writing theological treatises for others.  What I can do is work hard and make friends and try my best to let Jesus be seen in what I do each day. When I’m cutting holes in shipping containers, building walls or learning to thatch a roof, I’m doing it with men who are becoming my friends, and friends talk.  I have started to make friends of the Shona men and teen boys and can’t wait to get back there to pick those friendships up again.  I miss having tea breaks with Lamek and hearing about his elderly mother and his plans to build her a house and about how he’s got his entire church fasting and praying for my family and our swift return to Zimbabwe. To me, it’s all about relationship.  We talk and pray and work together.   It’s what I feel we are supposed to do.

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My Friends.

I was recently at a birthday party for a really good friend of mine and was talking with two friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a while.  We’d been catching up for a bit, I was asking questions about family, children, life etc. when one of them said, ‘What about you? You lived in Africa for almost a year since I saw you last, but you haven’t mentioned it. What’s up with that?’

I had to tell her that it wasn’t until we returned to Canada and got to hang out with our friends again that I realized how much I had missed from their lives during our absence.  Most of my communication with people had been mass Facebook posts about what I was doing.  I could probably count on one hand how many personal emails I’d written in 10 months.  And I was ashamed.  I realized that I did not want to be that person who just talks about themselves, you know the type.  I love my friends deeply and I missed them while I was away, but I don’t know if they knew it.  I’d like to think so.  So I just wanted to catch up with them, to hear about their past year and if they wanted to hear about Africa and what I was doing there, they’d have to ask me about it.

One day I was working in one of the new chicken barns at Eden Children’s Village and had been having a bit of a down week.  This particular day nothing seemed to be going right.  The drill bit broke.  I was making a mess out of the metal I was trying to weld.  It stunk of chicken feces and of course I was hot.  I was getting frustrated and angry.  Then my phone beeped to let me know I just received an email, apparently I was in wifi range.  It was a message from one of my good buddies from Canada.  I don’t remember what he said, it didn’t matter, but I cried.  It felt so awesome to be thought of enough that he took the time to email me.  It couldn’t have come at a better time.

So even though I could talk ad infinitum (How’s that for remembering some of my university Latin?) about Africa and what we were doing there and our plans for our future there, I want to learn to shut up and listen more.  I want my friends to know that I missed them, that they are important to me, that I love them.  10513295_10152199430236931_1313926893493098181_n