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May 4, 2015

strangers

I've been toying with the idea of sharing this, as I'm not totally sure it will be received well, but here it goes...
Being a missionary means being a stranger at home.

What I mean is... there comes a point as a missionary where you become a stranger in your home town, or church, or to your friends. When you're not sure where or if you fit, conversations are more surface and less friendly, and there is an obvious disconnect in almost everything you do.

This is sort of something that we're used to. Getting married as young as we did and joining the work-force right away, we set ourselves apart from our peers who were still single, in college, and working part-time. We were disconnected from people our own age. But it was the right thing at the right time for us.

When you become a missionary, this happens again. You're doing something that is so radical in the eyes of pretty much everyone, that you become disconnected from "normal" things. It makes people uncomfortable; they're not sure what to say or ask or do. They assume you're hyper-spiritual and put you up on a pedestal. We're really just normal people.

I get it - it's hard to understand why someone would give away their things and move far away from everything they know to fly airplanes in the jungle on some third world island. Why would anyone choose to say goodbye over and over and over again? Why would anyone want that heartbreak? That distance?


As we get closer and closer to leaving the USA for PNG, I've found myself getting more and more excited. This is what God has been preparing us for our whole lives; what we've been walking steadily towards for the last 3 years. This is it!

And I feel felt totally guilt-ridden. What kind of horrible person does it make me to be excited about something that I know will cause tremendous pain to myself and to people I love dearly?

But I've realized that it's okay for me to be excited, even though it will hurt... Because this is what God has been preparing us for our whole lives; what we've been walking steadily towards for the last 3 years. This is it! And He has enough grace to cover all of that hurt.

It's a strange thing... feeling like a stranger, in a place that should be home. It feels isolated. It's sad. As we get closer to leaving, people pull away so the hurt is less when we do go - I've done it, too, and I totally get it. Josh is a wonderful help for me as I go through all of this for the first time, since he has dealt with this disconnect a lot longer than I have, but it's hard for me who is connected to everything everywhere.

Now I'm on the other side of it, the isolated side of it. The side where people say "You're a missionary pilot - we can't be friends because you'll leave" (note: didn't happen to me exactly that way, but to one of my sweet friends). Even though we're feeling quite isolated right now, we have made deep connections with our co-workers, who have all dealt with this is some form or another. I guess, in a way, that makes us more isolated, because we choose to hang out with people who get it in a way no one else can. The ones who've been there, done that... and who can remind us that we do all of this, that we deal with all of this because of the Gospel and those who have never had the chance to hear even one word of it. That makes it worth it. That makes it okay. And that makes it much less lonely.

6 comments:

  1. The RaysMay 04, 2015

    I think you've GOT IT! This will be the most exciting times of your life!!!! God will help you through all of those "departure" times and "saying good-bye" times. He will be there to comfort you in whatever way you might need comforting. You are dedicating your life to HIM. You are working for a "higher" calling and not for just things here on earth. We used to email our daughter and son every day; so you will still have contact. In fact, you will probably communicate more there than when you were home. Your concerns are legitimate; but don't let Satan destroy your JOY IN THE LORD!!! We love you two! Rose and Harvey Ray

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  2. We love you, too, Rose and Harvey! Thanks for all that you do! You're one of those mentioned whom we draw on for wisdom with how to handle some of these things. <3

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  3. I can imagine that Christ had a conversation like that with the Father before it was time for Him to leave - and for what? To suffer, be humiliated, and DIE for a bunch of rebels who don't deserve anything but death and hell! Why would anyone WANT to leave the perfection and beauty of heaven, surrounded by beautiful adoring beings rendering unending worship? Why would Almighty God WANT to end up dwelling ETERNALLY in even a glorified body, when He has existed from eternity past as Spirit?

    What about the pain that He caused the anguished angels who watched their beloved God being put to death on the cross? They didn't deserve to be put through that! And for WHAT? The great majority of these unworthy mortals are going to reject Him anyway! What a waste (from a certain point of view)!

    But from His point of view, the glories of heaven are not "a thing to be grasped," but to demonstrate for all created beings the unimaginable depths of His love, His capacity to forgive the most heinous offenses, bearing the penalty Himself. Even the majority who reject Him give glory to God, giving everlasting testimony - even in the lake of fire - to His purity, holiness, righteousness, and justice.

    Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, guardsmen, police and - dare I say it - firefighters (lol, sorry) do something similar, though not as often in the same lifelong 24/7 commitment as missionaries, and we often do it (or did it) for our own glory, or to prove ourselves manly, heroic, brave, or otherwise worthy. Christ did it - and you do it - for the glory of Another. Love of God surpasses love of fellow man, love of country, and every other form of human nobility.

    I just kinda sorta naturally keep a distance from people, but it is not for fear of getting hurt. For me it's more about the fear of hurting THEM, by disappointing them or failing them. Giving myself permission to have human failings and to disappoint people sometimes - even people I love - is hard to do but it's also very liberating. People need to see Jesus, not Robin. And not Erin.

    I already miss you terribly! But if I had the chance to do what you and Josh are doing, even in spite of the cost, I would jump at it. Because people need to see Christ, to know Him, to love Him as I do, to share in His inheritance; His everlasting FAMILY.

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  4. So excited for you! I found your blog through NTM's Facebook post announcing your move in 2 weeks. My husband, 3 kids and I just moved to Malawi, Africa almost 3 months ago, for our first time as missionaries, so we've had some similar experiences recently. Thank you for sharing your heart, I know God has a great plan for your time in PNG and I look forward to following your journey through your blog!

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    1. Hi Bonnie, welcome to the Lovely Life! I'm so glad that you found us and reached out. I just found your blog, and am so excited to follow along with you as well! I could not even imagine doing this with 3 kids, Bonnie! I know one day I will have to make this move with kids in tow, but I'm pretty happy that it's not right away. God bless you as you serve the beautiful people of Malawi!

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  5. Your work is amazing! I am so excited to have found this blog through NTM's newsletter. I'm trying to figure out what to do for college, and recently I've been considering mission aviation as a possibility. Thank you for posting what it's like to do something like this.

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