The Common Coffin Consolation

by Angie Washington on October 18, 2012

When missionaries gather we console each other. We encourage each other. We laugh together. We gripe together. We solve problems together. A particular consolation comes up frequently in my corner of the world. When things get hard or lonely we say,

“At least we didn’t have to pack our stuff in a coffin.”

Some missionaries a long time back would pack their stuff in a simple wooden coffin instead of suitcases. The regions God called them to often did not participate in the practice of burying their dead. The trip was one-way because of cost and the extensive time to arrive. Aside from sporadic letters through the postal service, the missionaries sent so far away were rarely heard from again.

My have times changed!

Missionaries now use tools like airplanes and the internet. We can call our loved ones in our passport countries with relative ease. Even those working in rural regions, cut off from communication methods, can hop in a motor vehicle to get to an urban city pretty quickly.

So we tell each other in short, “Things could be worse. Things have been worse. Be grateful.”

Maybe one day, way far off in the future, missionaries will console each other by saying,

“At least we don’t have to travel in clunky old airplanes now that teletransporters exist.”

Could happen, right?

Where do you find consolation? How have things changed since a hundred years ago in the region you work? What contemporary tool are you most grateful for?


– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America

blog: twitter: @atangie

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About Angie Washington

Co-Founder, Editor of this collaborative blog site: A Life Overseas
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  • I have been back on the mission field for almost a year after a six year stretch at home. Previously, we spent almost three years in the field. I am a little ashamed to say it, but Facebook has made it so much easier to keep in touch with family and friends, update our donors and supporters and spread the word about our work without taking hours and hours to figure out faulty communication. It has helped, for me anyway, relieve that intense feeling of isolation that can become such a plague in a missionary’s life. Oh, I kind of am in love with our Kindle too. And we were just able to raise the funds to buy a car after eight months without one living almost two hours away from the nearest place to do any major grocery shopping in a town where there was one bus day to and from the city. I can’t tell you how much I love this car.

  • Even in the four years we’ve been here, so much has changed! I’m extremely grateful for ebooks, since I can download most resources instead of waiting for them to arrive by mail or begging a local bookstore to make a purchase in English.

  • And because their life expectancy on the mission field was 2-7 years.

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