Dear Supporter, There’s So Much More I Wish I Could Tell You

by Amy Medina on January 31, 2017

Dear Supporter,

I wrote you a newsletter today.  I told you about the success in our ministry, about the lives being touched and the happy stories.  Everyone was smiling in all the pictures.  But there is so much more I wish I could tell you.

I wish I could tell you that lots of times I feel like a total failure.  I’ve asked you to pray for the Big Event, or the Camp Sign-Ups, or the Grand Opening.  You might not realize that afterwards, I don’t always tell you how it went.  That’s because sometimes, despite weeks of hard work and lots of prayer, the event is a total flop.  Five people show up.  Or no one.  And I can’t bring myself to tell you.

Then there’s the time when I realize that I’ve hurt a national friend.  Or a missionary colleague and I are having a huge conflict.   Or I’ve made a major cultural mistake.  Or I’m just not learning this language.  Or everything blows up in my face.  There are many, many times when I wonder why I’m here, or if I really am the right person for this job.  But I’m afraid to tell you, because then I think you will wonder why I’m here or if I am the right person for this job.

I wish I could tell you about my personal struggles.  Sometimes I feel like you make me out to be more spiritual than I am, but I wish you knew that becoming a missionary didn’t turn me into a saint.  In fact, sometimes I think it brings out the worst in me.  I wish I could tell you about the immobilizing depression or the fights with my spouse.  I wish I could tell you that my anxiety was so bad that I needed to travel to another country to see a professional counselor.  I wish I could tell you about that time my friend was robbed at gunpoint in his home, and I couldn’t sleep for weeks afterward.

I wish you knew that I hate it here sometimes, and there’s nothing more I want than to go home.  But I know I need to stay, so I don’t tell you because I’ve heard the stories of friends forced to go home because they confided in the wrong person.   I don’t tell you because I can’t imagine you would want to support such a flawed person.

I wish I could tell you about the perks.  We live in an exotic place, so sometimes that means that we take our kids snorkeling the way you would take your kids to the park.  Sometimes it means that our conferences or layovers take us to exciting places like Thailand or Johannesburg or Dubai.  Sometimes it means that lobster is cheap or the historic castle is just a day-trip away.

But I am afraid to tell you about these experiences, because I’m afraid you think missionaries are supposed to suffer.  After all, we often live in poor countries and we always subsist on your financial sacrifice.  I’m worried you will think we are being extravagant.  And I’ve heard stories of missionaries who have lost support because of their vacations.  I fear your judgment.

I wish I could tell you that I long for more connection with you.  The first couple years were great because we got lots of care packages and Christmas letters and everyone asked us how it was going.  But time goes on and people move on and we realize that we’re really not that exciting anymore.  It’s hard to come home and feel like we have to be pushy for opportunities to share.  It’s hard to feel like people are intimidated to talk to us because we are so different now.  Our newsletter program tells us that only 60% of our list open our email updates, which isn’t that surprising since we only get a handful of responses.

Part of that is okay because we don’t need care packages as much anymore, and you’ve made new friends and we have too.  But I wish you knew how much it means to me when you remember to ask about a detail I wrote about, or when you continue to send me your Christmas letter.  When we are together, it makes my day when you ask about my life in my other country—when you really look me in the eyes and want to know how it’s going.  Listening is the best gift you can give me.  And the scariest part of feeling disconnected is wondering if people are still praying for us.  So when you tell me that you are still praying for me, that makes all the difference.

I wish I could find a way to express how much you mean to me.  Despite how hard this life can be, I have the tremendous joy of doing God’s work in the place I am called.  And there is no way I could do it without your sacrifice.  I hope you know how important that is to me.  How important you are to me.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Your Missionary

Print Friendly

About Amy Medina

Amy Medina has spent almost half her life in Africa, both as an MK in Liberia and now in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, since 2001. Living in tropical Africa has helped her perfect the fine art of sweating, but she also loves teaching, cooking, and hospitality. She and her husband worked many years with TCKs and now are involved with theological training. They also adopted four amazing Tanzanian kids along the way. Amy blogs regularly at www.gilandamy.blogspot.com.
  • Maggie Raines

    Thank you Amy for such a beautiful letter. Even though I do not “know” you, I consider myself your friend and I am praying for you today. From another sister in Christ in full-time Christian ministry, theses words are accurate and true. Thank you for your honesty and transparency.

    • Amy Medina

      You are so kind, Maggie. I hope we get to meet in person someday!

  • Debbie Wardle

    Thank you Amy, you speak for so many who wish they could express their feelings and thoughts as well as you. May the Lord continue to give you grace for the journey!! May He send encouragement when He knows you really need it, and may your children grow to love and obey Him knowing it doesn’t guarantee an easy life, but that He is worthy of all we have and are – and He loves us beyond measure. We pray for you all!

    • Amy Medina

      thanks, Debbie!

  • sunnyhorstmann

    Thanks so much for sharing, you articulated the very real things I struggle with. Was wondering, what were some things that help you get past these mental hurdles?

  • Loredana Rodríguez

    Wow! Thanks for sharing ! Thanks for open your heart so honestly ! I feel the same sometimes! I’ve been there … i am missionary too. God bless you! Praying for you ! I am in Slovakia ????????!

    • Amy Medina

      I’m glad you could resonate, Loredana.

  • ikhadinger

    Thank you for sharing exactly what we all think, feel, and want to communicate to our supporters.

    • Amy Medina

      I’m so glad you think so!

  • Pingback: Do You Know What Your Missionaries Are Actually DOING?()

  • Jerry Jones

    Well said Amy. This should be required reading for missionary supporters.

    • Amy Medina

      thanks, Jerry.

  • Pingback: Casual Friday ‘Tis The Season | Paracletos()

  • Something rarely spoken but so true. Thank you for taking the plunge and speaking out on a topic many of us missionaries avoid!

Previous post:

Next post: