Welcome to A Life Overseas {Vlog}

The day is here!

We’ve been working behind the scenes and our first official post will hit the online space tomorrow, November 15th. But, before we get into the actual articles from our amazing team of international writers, I wanted to take a minute to personally welcome you to this site which is written by global workers, for global workers.

We’ll be having new content 3-4 times every week, so be sure to subscribe today for posts to get sent right to your inbox. It’s a free and easy way to connect with the faith community of missionaries. You can simply enter your email address below:



Take a minute today, too, to connect with us on Facebook by liking our page (HERE or on the sidebar) or by following us on twitter at @alifeoverseas . Feel free to browse around the authors’ sites, too, and get to know their work and online voices, as well.

Whether you are thinking about living internationally, or whether you have logged years of experience already, thank you for being here and thank you for the work you are doing to impact the world for good and for the Kingdom.

Let the conversation begin.

– Laura Parker, co-founder, former missionary to SE Asia

 

5 Mistakes I Made My First Year on the Mission Field

Just last year, I was a culture-shocked newbie stumbling through my first months living overseas.  And we came as independents {we still are}, brought three small children with us, and probably arrived before we had technically raised enough money to sustainably stay. You could say we’ve done a lot wrong in regards to our transition into full-time missions.

But you could say we’ve gotten a lot wrong about a lot of things.

Regardless, here are a few pieces of advice I wish I had been given {and then been humble enough to listen to} during our first year overseas:

1. Learn the Language, First and Only. When we got here in April of 2010, we hit the ground in a full-out sprint. We gave ourselves very little time to adjust or get culturally-acclimated. Instead, we dove into ministry in a panicked frenzy. And while much may have been accomplished at the girls home we worked for, our long-term ministry and effectiveness have suffered because it has taken us so. much. longer to learn to communicate.  We’ve had individual tutors, we’ve done 6-week long classes for tourists, we’ve promised {and then re-promised} to do Rosetta Stone daily, we’ve made flashcards and more flashcards. And we still only have a workably-mild grasp of the language. I assumed we would be fluent by now, honestly, and it frustrates me that I still have to pre-plan my Thai phone calls.

Learning the language while you are in the thick of ministry is like trying to get your Masters when you have small children and a full-time job. You can still do it, but it is much harder and much slower and much more frustrating. Trust me, the three months or six months {or more?} you devote to simply learning the language and adjusting to your new culture will pay off dividends in your long-term effectiveness. 

2. Sandwich Vacation. I wish our family would have taken a vacation between when we left the States and when we showed up in Asia. The stress and emotional weight of the goodbyes at the airport are brutal, for you and for the kids. And the stress and emotional weight of diving in to your new culture are equally as brutal. I wish we would have given ourselves a breather between the two— a few days at some nice hotel or some beach somewhere to process the leaving, to rest from the moving process, to collect ourselves.  I think for the kids that would have made the “adventure” of moving overseas more enjoyable, right from the start. {I think it would probably be an equally great idea as a family transitions from living overseas back to home, too, for the same reasons.}

3. Do Not Dive In. Really, Stay on the Dock for a While. The tendency for go-getters is to go-get-some-ministry-on — especially if your term overseas is two years or less. Your plane lands, and the Great Clock of your missionary life seems to start its countdown.  And so you give yourself a week to get settled, and then you attack whatever ministry it was you came to do. I get this tendency. I’ve lived this tendency. However, I wish I wouldn’t have. Because it takes more time than you think to find housing and food and the closest place to buy lightbulbs. It takes time to begin to learn the culture, to figure out your role in ministry, and to look realistically at the effectiveness of your/your organization’s work. People that jump in too quickly tend to either A) Burn Out or B) Make a Mess of Things. It’s better to avoid both of those, I am thinking.

4. Beware of Going Solo. We did not come with a missions organization. We did not come with a team. We lived out in a rural area, where we didn’t know the language, at all. {Because, obviously, I hadn’t listened to the advice of other missionaries to learn it first.} The kids didn’t have a school to make friends at, and on so many levels we felt very alone. And while I’m not a big fan of some of the hoops missionaries have to jump through because of missions organizations and while I understand the risk of your team “not working out,” I do know that community is essentialAnywhere. 

5. Expect Disappointment. From yourself. From your marriage. From the ministry you came to serve. From the culture. From your finances. From the nationals and other missionaries. From your walk with God. From your kids. And while I am typically a sunshine-daily optimist, I know I would have done better during our first year if I had lower expectations. When you are gearing up to go, you can feel a bit like you are attending a perpetual pep-rally of sorts. And in some ways, you need this inspiration to just get on that plane.

However, when you expect to walk into your new very-foreign land with the guts of Hudson Taylor, making converts like Billy Graham, while toting kids around as well-behaved as the Duggars, well, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Grace, grace, and more grace. I guess that’s advice that translates anywhere.

* Adapted from original post on LauraParkerBlog, 2011

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All right, let’s play a game. Pretend you have the ear of a new missionary, heading to the field. Assuming they want advice, what would you tell them to do or not do? Is my advice off?

– Laura Parker, freelance writer and former missionary in SE Asia 

 

The Common Coffin Consolation

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?

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– Angie Washington【取寄せ】 ディズニー Disney ピノキオ フェアリーズ ティンカーベル 置物 フィギュア 人形 セット 彫刻 エネスコ Enesco [並行輸入品] Disney WDCS Blue Fairy, missionary living in BoliviaSIEVE シーヴ シーブ ソファ パートソファ 二人掛けソファ 二人用 part sofa 2seater ファブリック カバーリング ナチュラル シンプル 北欧 木製 木 ウッド かわいい , South America

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10 Reasons Not To Become a Missionary

1. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World. First, high expectations doom to disappoint, but, also, maybe your desire to change the world is trumping your desire to serve. Ask yourself if you would be happy moving overseas to a much harsher environment in order to quietly help a local, while getting no recognition and seeing no fruit in the process.  If you can answer honestly yes, then maybe you’re still in the running. {Don’t worry, we thought we would’ve answered yes, but found out that we really had some unhealthy saviour-complexes to begin with. You can read about that here: On Living a Good Story and Not Trying So Hard and The Guy in the Orange Shirt .}

2. Don’t Become a Missionary to Make Yourself Better. My first mission trip was as a middle schooler to Jamaica. I’m not really sure how much good we actually did, but I do remember one of the missionaries we worked with. His name was Craig, and he had some of the biggest glasses I’d ever seen. And the dude talked to everybody about Jesus. Everyone– the pot-smoking Rastafarian in the line, the tourists at the store, the check-out guy at the food stand. And I remember turning one time to another missionary who worked with him and asked what made him so “good” at evangelizing.  The older missionary said, “Craig?  Oh, he didn’t come to Jamaica and become like that. He was already like that in the States.”

And I think Craig with the big glasses dispels the lie that if you move overseas, then you will magically become a superhero Christian. Um, false. What you are here, you’ll be there. And while it’s true that the change of environment can spark growth, it doesn’t mean you’ll go from luke-warm average Christian to Rob-Bell-Cool-On-Fire-Mother-Theresa just because you suddenly find yourself on another continent. Pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

3. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Have the Answers and the Nationals Don’t. Westerners have clunky shoes.  This is just true. We are loud and obnoxious and, good Lord, arrogant. Our DNA has us descending on other cultures and dictating ways they can “fix” themselves, while throwing money at their problems. I think I’ve learned that every good missionary LISTENS, first. And listens, a lot. {Don’t worry, I suck at this still. You can read about that here, Rich Guy with the Crappy Car or Quiet Heroes.}

4. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Can’t Hack Transition. We’ve been overseas now for less than two years, and we have moved houses three times, taken two major trips, and have gotten close to and then had to say goodbye to over 15 good family friends. People come and go on the mission field. Terms are up and governments change the visa laws. You find a deal on a house or the house you are in has rats. When you sign up for missions, like it or not, realize it or not, you are signing up for a transient lifestyle. {On Moving House, Like A Lot and New Girl both speak to this reality.}

5. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Really Pretty Great, Spiritually-Speaking. There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country to reveal all the crap that’s in your heart.  Seriously. I have cussed more, cried more, been more angry, had less faith, been more cynical and, generally speaking, have become in many ways a worser person during my last two years of serving in Asia. Call it culture-shock if you will, but I tend to think the stress of an overseas move thrusts the junk that was conveniently- covered before out into the blazing-hot-open.

6. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think Living on Support is Cake. It might look easy, but it is most definitelynot– this monthly process of holding your breath and praying that you get a full paycheck , while knowing that even thatpaycheck is based on the kindness of your parents or your friends or the lady you know hardly has two pennies to rub together anyway. And then, when you do have a little money, you stress about how you should spend it —  Should I treat myself to a coffee? Do the kids really need to go to the pool today? Should I buy the more reliable scooter or the used one that will {probably?} be just fine?

And then, and then, shudder, there’s that awkward process of asking for it in the first place and feeling like you are annoying-the-heck out of the same people, who happen to be the only people you know  — like that pushy lady selling Tupperware down the street.

The whole thing might be great for your faith, but it can sure be a killer on your . . .  heart, finances, sense of self-worth, savings, relationships, budget, fun, and freedom.

7. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Aren’t Willing to Change. Flexibility is more important than I ever thought it would be in an overseas life. So is humility, actually. Unfortunately, neither of these qualities is naturally at the top of my Character-I.Q. However, I have learned that the more determined you are to stick to your original plan– regarding ministry or living situation or friendships or organizations or personal growth– the more painful it is when that plan changes, and change it most definitely will. It’s the ones who humbly hold things loosely that I think can go the distance with far less collateral damage.

8. Don’t Become a Missionary at the Last Minute, on a Spiritual-Whim, Spontaneously. And yes, my Charismatic friends may disagree a bit here, but moving overseas, especially with a family and especially in any kind of committed-capacity, is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not necessarily a move that should be felt at a tent-meeting on Friday and plane tickets bought for the the next Monday. Training is important. Spiritual, emotional and cultural preparation has immense value. Turning your heart to a new place often takes time to fully root. So, give it a little time. Don’t be afraid to put the brakes on a bit, and heaven’s sake, don’t think that you’re more godly if you decide, pack and go in record time. This is not the Olympics, and sloppy leaving can take more time to clean up than you realize.

  1.  Don’t Become a Missionary to Fix Your Kids. Jerking a rebellious teenager from liberal American society and sticking them in an African hut so they can “find God,” is not a valid parenting technique. Family and personal problems will follow you overseas, in fact, they may be amplified. It’s important not to buy into the lie that forcing your kids to be missionaries will supernaturally make them love Jesus. That might happen, but moving a rebellious teen might also royally backfire on you, and should never, ever, ever be the primary reason a family takes up missions.

10. Don’t Become a Missionary to Find Cool Friends. Now, I’m not saying you won’t find amazing friends– maybe the best in your life– but there is no denying that the mission field can draw some pretty odd ducks. {Of which, I, of course, am not one. See #7 regarding my natural humility.} Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself in a church service with ladies wearing clothes from the 80?s singing praise songs from your middle-school years like Awesome God, but without even the drums. Don’t be surprised, too, if your social interactions are awkward at best with many of your fellow mission-souls. Living out the in jungles for twenty years might do wonders for your character and strength and important things, like, oh, the translation of the Bible into another language, but it can sure do a number on a person’s ability to shoot the breeze in a church lobby somewhere.

But, there, again, maybe there’s a necessary shifting that has to happen to your definition of cool, anyway.

– Revised and Extended from LauraParkerBlog‘s original list, posted Jan 2012

Laura Parker, former missionary in SE Asia.

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What would you add to the list?  Bring it. Even if you are not a missionary, pretend and add to the list.

Acquainted

They started telling me their stories. We call the orphans of our orphanage the Dreamers. It caught me at the throat when the children decided to speak about their mothers. Pure fantasy spewed from their lips.

“My mother brought me a huge cake,” he said with arms extended indicating the enormous dimensions.

“My mother is beautiful,” another declared with loving eyes.

“My mother is going to come and take me from this place,” the oldest of the group at seven years old crossed her arms in defiant determination. The possibility may exist, due to the foster type care we provide, that the mother would return. The probability is low. Those words shot forcefully from that little mouth straight through my heart.

Suffering doesn’t touch you until you touch the suffering. And until you are touched by suffering you will not touch a sufferer.

I used to say that I would much rather learn from the Good Book that God has provided for our benefit rather than at the cruel school of hard knocks. That is not the case now. I see value in feeling, to bring me to a new awareness not attainable by facts on a page.

In my ignorance of pushing suffering away from myself I also pushed the sufferers away. As I have learned to embrace the hardships in my life I have also embraced the suffering people. Skirting the valley sent me tumbling down in only to realize that there were others going through as well.

Three days to break the body of Jesus and see it revived again with scars to testify. Thirty-three years suffering with raw and blistering humanity to break his heart, never to see it fully restored. He is a man acquainted with suffering.

Can I be acquainted with him yet ignore his empathy and compassion? Can you?

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– Angie WashingtonK10YG K10YG マリッジリング オシャレ ring 指輪 イエローゴールドK10 ホワイトゴールドK10 結婚 婚約 ペアリング 人気 ジュエリーアイ 刻印 文字入れ 可能 人気 安い 2本セ, missionary living in BoliviaLIXIL/リクシル 【INAX】J1HT-755S(8)YN/LP2H 化粧台 片引出し取っ手レスタイプ 寒冷地仕様 (クリエペール), South America

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Sprint, Sprint, Sprint, Gut

The coach of our swim team during my younger years had this saying. But it really wasn’t a saying, it was a yelling. He had to make himself heard over the splashes and we were all wearing those flattering plastic caps that squeezed our ears making it almost impossible to hear anything. I guess it was smart of him to have only one thing that he said, so that we always knew just what he wanted us to do. So when I looked up and saw his brow furrowed and his mouth moving around like the fake dinosaurs on Jurassic Park there was no doubt as to what he was bellowing out:

“Sprint, sprint, sprint! Gut!”

His voice has been ringing in my ears as of late. It is not that I don’t like what I am doing; just the same as when I was swimming. I liked swimming, even if I was in the turtle lane and the other three lanes above me were called: bronze, silver and gold. I still love to swim laps.

I like what I do as a wife, as a mother, as a missionary, as … well, as me. I have a good life. I simply feel like I have been in sprint mode for a long while and now my coach is yelling in my ear to gut that last lap.

Times of refreshing intercalate with times of industriousness. Without the work, refreshing is nothing more than laziness. As missionaries we drive ourselves hard. We push ourselves to produce. Our ambition gives us the tenacity necessary for a life of high demands.

How do you gut it? What keeps you moving when every muscle yells stop? When you know the season you are in requires every fiber of your being to performジョーダン 靴 シューズ カジュアルスニーカー ユニセクシャル ブラック Jordan Jordan Retro 4 – Mens – Black / Blue, where do you find the strength?

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– Angie Washington【聴診器】3M リットマン ステソスコープ カーディオロジー3, missionary living in Bolivia[カントリー家具] マントルピースブリック暖炉(だんろ)パイン材/ディスプレイ/インテリア[完成品], South America

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Entitlement and Titles

My jaw dropped as I watched a triangle of interaction take place. Having befriended a gal in our office I felt compelled to give her a little gift. The gift bag with froo-froo tissue paper hid two cute shirts. I practically skipped into the office. Seeing she was alone at her desk I sidled up and grinned saying simply, “This is for you.”

Beaming she gave me a hug even before she opened the treasure. According to custom she asked permission to open it. Once granted she gently pulled out each shirt and held them up to her small frame. Suddenly another gal appeared next to the desk. She saw the gift bag and my new friend happily fingering the new garments. Then she walked over, yanked one up and held it against her busty chest.

“This shirt is mine,” the third lady said in a dry matter of fact tone.

My Spanish abilities fly out the window when I am flustered. Not finding the right words I hoped the objection to what was taking place could be seen on my face. The gestures and stammering were insufficient against the allowances extended to ‘friends’ in this culture. My new friend tried to help me understand that this acquaintance was entitled to the gift simply based on the length of time the two had known each other. In the end I conceded, frustrated and confused.

Since this slap-in-the-face shirt experience early on in our missionary career here in Bolivia many interactions of entitlement have followed. I can even employ this relational device with relative ease. The first few times felt awkward. Then I started receiving immediate gratification by way of acceptance from the ‘natives’. I attained desired results attained which reinforced continued usage of entitlement.

Because I can identify the intricacies of this cultural nuance, I cringe a little when anybody calls me, “Pastora.” It is the feminine version of the title Pastor. The people have a right to call me this because I am married to the pastor. Yet, when they speak it, I know there is a list of duties attached they have pegged on me.

When the man says to my face, “You have to give me the money that the people from the United States send to you,” I know he is not trying to finagle anything from me. Rather, he recognizes my position in his life. Tactfully I can help him to understand why I will not be handing over a wad of cash. Then I can request of him specific behavior based upon my title.

The following titles I hold entitle certain groups of people to a certain level of entitlement: wife, friend, amiga, mama, tia, pastora, sister, hermana, señora, and daughter.

What titles do you hold entitling the people in your life to allowances? How do you feel about titles? What cultural practices have surprised you?

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– Angie Washingtonやまびこ(新ダイワ) インバータ ガソリンエンジン発電機 IEG1600M-Y/M 超低騒音 (ヤマハ EF1600iS EF16HiS 同等品)【在庫有り】【あす楽】, missionary living in Bolivia【取寄せ】ディズニー Disney マレフィセント オーロラ姫 ファッションドール 人形 おもちゃ 玩具 トイ 30.5cm [並行輸入品] Maleficent Film Collection Ex, South America

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Bloom Where You’re Planted and All That

I’ll be honest, this missions gig hasn’t gone like I thought it would. 

When I was a teenager, I devoured books on Amy Carmichael, determined to live in some hut rescuing orphans. I wanted to “accomplish great things for God,” and I assumed that meant a dramatic adventure, namely, taking a plane somewhere.

When I had kids and my husband began feeling the pull towards a life overseas, the dream began to morph.  Now, I’d just be Amy Carmichael with Kids, my children walking amongst the impoverished, learning a sacrificial love, developing a sold-out faith on foreign soil {while at the same time maintaining a sense of national home, cultural-relevance in America, minimal transition-issues, and general up-to-date fashion sense}.

I thought before we began this journey that it would be easy to find our niche of ministry– we are working for free, after all. I assumed we would do what we came to do, and when that shifted, I assumed it’d be simple to find the gaping hole of need that we had been divinely equipped to fill. That the Story of our purpose here and role would make sense, sooner, rather thanlater. 

But, two and a half years in, and I am continuing to find that Amy Carmichael I am not, that missions can be brutal on a family, and that fog is no respecter of the Jesus-disciple. 

And I was reading just the other day in this book I happen to love, and the words caught my breath, as is often the case when I have the guts and discipline to really ask the Living Word to speak.  And it said simply this:

And now, these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 corinthians 13

And I’ve read that a million times, but this week, it’s struck a new chord. Because, this, this is what I so desperately need– faith, hope, love– qualities not dependent on my circumstances, missed expectations, or personal doubts.

Faith. That God is in the smack-dab-middle of writing a good Story — for me, for us, for them.

Hope. That beautiful things can rise from ashes. That the next bend could bring what we’ve been waiting for all along.

and LoveFrom God, for God, and for all his kids around me. The extravagant, never-stopping, everybody-included kind.

And I don’t know where you find yourself this weekend, what circumstance or fog or barrier weighs heavy on your soul. Maybe it’s a job you hate or money that can’t stretch far enough. Perhaps it’s a child you don’t have yet or one who’s drifted far, on purpose. Maybe it’s the  drag of the mundane or the failure of the adventure. But whatever it is, whatever circumstance threatens to speak doubt or anger or depression, my prayer for you, for me, is that these three will keep on remaining,

faith. hope. and love.

Played out in a million, daily, gritty, far-from-dramatic choices

The kinds of choices Amy Carmichael probably made, but that never made her books.

 – from the archives of LauraParkerBlog, 2012
Laura Parker, former missionary to SE Asia.

Short-Term Missions: Is the Price Tag Worth It?

Short term mission trips are a popular thing these days in Christian circles. In fact, estimates are that literally millions of individuals, mostly young people, serve on short term trips (1 week up to a year) every year worldwide. Now that’s a lot of people and a whole truckload of money. Here’s an article written last year asking some sobering questions about short term mission trips:

Consider this: a group of 15 high school students {with four adult leaders} want to go on a missions trip to Africa. They write support letters, hold spaghetti dinners, call up grandma across the state line. The cost of the trip is 8 days out of their summer vacation and $1800 USD out of somebody’s pocket. Per person.

The goal of the trip is to paint the outside of a church, do a VBS for an hour four evenings, and “love the orphans” at the local orphanage {a.k.a. play soccer and give lots of hugs, since they don’t speak the same language}. The group gets called to the front of the church for a send-off prayer before and produces a killer video that makes their mothers get teary after. There are lots of Facebook updates and instagram pictures of the trip– rich American teens hugging on dark African orphans– which become the profile pictures of the participants for a good six months post-travel.

The church got painted, which locals could have done for about 30 bucks maybe.

The orphans got hugged, and then had to say goodbye to people that they’ll never see again and who promise to write, but never really do.

The four days of VBS got delivered. And included the same bible stories which  the previous four short term teams had also told. Through the mud of translators and with songs and hand motions that didn’t really make cultural sense.

And the grand total of this particular missions trip: $34, 200 USD. Ouch.

In a country where the average wage might be $2USD a day. That would be the equivalent of 17,100 days of work for a local. At that rate, the money could have gone to give 46 single mothers honorable employment for an entire year.

In this part of the world in Asia, it could provide clean water filters for 1,700 homes in village communities or it could begin a business to give hundreds of future prostitutes another choice or it could fully fund several national pastors for a whole year.

Ouch, again.

And maybe I shouldn’t knock what I myself have tried, and tasted the benefits from. I went to Jamaica on my first summer missions trip as a jr. high kid, and I still remember the stories. My husband has led a half-dozen missions trips for teenagers during his work as a student pastor. And some of our ministry here in SE Asia has been based on the idea that there  is incredible value in the mentorship of young adults as they travel and volunteer internationally. {And we have seen that it has.}

I get it.

And I know that maybe that money wouldn’t have been given to support those other {more cost- effective} endeavors, anyway. I understand that  motivating a Westerner with an experience which could make him or her a financial supporter of missions for the rest of a career has value. I get that there is intrinsic value in letting the third world know that they are not forgotten by the first, and I can see that a missions experience for a teenager could translate into a lifetime of living overseas themselves.

Yet, yet. $34,000. For eight days? When people are starving and children are trafficked and pastors themselves don’t have access to Bibles?

It’s hard to swallow. Or justify sometimes.

Or, is it?

originally posted here:  LauraParkerBlog, former missionary to SE Asia.

You All Right?

The whitewashed staircase looms before her. She hesitates and tries to calm her elevated heart rate, “Breathe. You’ve done this before. It’s going to be ok.” But is it really? It’s been so long since she has stepped foot in such a place. Mixed emotions swirl as her foot slowly steps on the first stair.

On the other side of town another thirty-something, also motivated by guilt, stands before a different edifice staircase. She postponed this defining moment, not knowing if she would be accepted. Her heart races, as well, as she digs deep searching for courage. Her hand catches the rail to steady her slightly week knees.

The two women share a common fear: is it going to be all right? Past experiences berate their minds and cloud their choices. They know the correct thing to do; but the thought of following through seems too great to bear.

They may have shared fears, yet set before them are very different prospects. One woman is standing before a gym, the other before a church. Both ask themselves if it is worth it. Both scrutinize themselves as past hurts and failures berate their subconscious.

Both choose to enter.

The first woman receives with her gym membership a complementary medical evaluation. At the end of the appointment the doctor smiles and tells her that she should continue with the exercise and a healthy diet. Then he says the words that bring relief to her worried mind, “You are in the normal range with all the examinations we performed.” She makes him repeat himself to be sure she heard correctly. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The second woman climbs the steps to the church building. She arrives late in hopes to hide in the back. She bends her head in shame. Maybe they will mistake the shameful posture for reverence, she hopes. The back row also affords a quick escape. Then a phrase in the message catches her attention. She pulls her head up so as to be sure she heard correctly. Is this man saying the truth? Amidst all her faults, shortcomings, and blatant sin, she is loved? Yes, that is what he is saying. God chose her, called her precious, and loved her. In other words it is going to be ok. She is ok. Normal. Acceptable.

The first woman’s fears were calmed when she learned that things she had done placed her in an acceptable rank. Deeds saved this lady’s self worth.

The second woman’s fears were calmed when she learned of an all-powerful love which covered her past deeds. The deeds of One offered this lady complete salvation.

Where do you find your sense of self worth? Do you find yourself trying to ‘be enough’ or ‘do enough’ to be accepted? When was the last time you deliberately extended the grace of God to someone else? To yourself?

——————————————

– Angie Washington【BFRS-3K-901RW】富士工業 レンジフード 換気扇 ホワイト, missionary living in Bolivia###INAX 洗面化粧台【MAJX2-602TZJU】ミラーキャビネット アジャストミラー LED照明 2面鏡 全収納 間口600mm くもり止めコート付, South America

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Avoiding the Missionary Kid Syndrome

We’ve all heard horror stories of P.K.’s (Pastors Kids), M.K.’s (Missionary Kids), and W.K.’s (Whatever other ministry oriented kid turned out bad).

While my wife and I have a long way to go to declare success, here are some things we have been practicing to keep missions appealing.

1. Priorities
I can hear all the above mentioned K’s shouting “Amen”. Most families with the dreaded K syndrome, are linked to more time, energy, and focus being placed on ministry than family. It’s fashionable to say “family first”, but much harder to live that out. It will require making sacrifices, many schedules, and constantly re-evaluating the season your family is in.

Missionary Family
By: Andrew Comings

Billy Graham, when looking back over his life and ministry, had one regret. He wished to have spent more time with his family. You can read about it in his autobiography, “Just As I Am”

2. Boundaries
Going hand in hand with priorities, is making decisions to keep boundaries. Since our children are young, we have made the decision for only one of us to attend evening meetings. We want to place a priority on the boy’s routine. This also gives each one of us the chance to have some quality time with the two boys before bed.

There are little choices that need to be made like this each day. Your checklist never gets fully accomplished, so something has to give. I recently read a book by Andy Stanley I bought in response to his leadership podcast. In Choosing to Cheat, Andy shows how everyone cheats. You will either rob your family of time or you will create that time by trimming things in your ministry.

3. Involve them
Seemingly contradicting a previous point, this is the balancing act of parenting. Our kids love being involved in the ministry. They recite testimonies from our weekly staff meetings, know the people we work with, and put their faith with ours when we dream bigger than ourselves.

My wife was a pastor’s kid when she was growing up (still is actually). She recounts with fondness sitting at the top of the stairs, eavesdropping on board meetings. Her father was excellent at involving her, even asking her opinion on things. He made ministry attractive!

4. Protect them from some of the Ugliness
On several occasions my wife or I, have stopped friends from telling horror stories of crime or human failure in front of our children. They will learn the ugliness that missions brings soon enough. We do not want to keep them in a bubble, just ease them into real life. Living on the mission field, they still have to confront issues of crime and poverty in their own childlike ways.

5. Be Positive
Your children will know more than anyone if you really do not love the people you minister to or the nation you are in. Love what God has called you to and they will too.

6. Advertise them
Ok, this might sound a bit like exploitation. Hear me out.

Present your mission as a family mission. When we are at home visiting churches, we always bring the kids on stage with us. In our newsletters, there is always a corner for what is going on in their lives. We’ve found that other young families in churches connect with us, and have become a part of our team.

Do you have anything to add to the list? What makes ministry or missions attractive to your kids?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog:  NoSuperHeroes  Twitter: @lautsbaugh      Facebook:  NoSuperHeroes

 

Meet the Editors

Angie and I have never met in real life. Instead, our journey was formed in blog comments and facebook posts. Our friendship begun via computers and twitter handles. She was in Bolivia, and I was living in SE Asia. She was the encouraging missionary with years under her belt saying, “You can do this,” while I was the one with only months under mine claiming publicly that I very-much-couldn’t.

I received many emails and messages and comments on my own blog, particularly during the times I vomited hopelessness or admitted to cussing in the front yard,  but Angie became this source of constant encouragement to me, half a globe away. Her words always rang true, always pointed up, always spoke life. She faithfully left comment after comment after comment, reminding me that I wasn’t crazy. And that it would get better. And that living overseas would teach me lessons I couldn’t learn otherwise.

****

And several months ago, I had a precious friend at our house for dinner in Asia, and somehow, Angie Washington’s name surfaced. And my new friend exclaimed, “Wait, I know her!” To which I replied incredulously, “Like, in real life?!”

And my friend had spent a summer with Angie and her family in Bolivia, and I held my breath a little as I asked the question that I think is in the back of everyone’s mind when they’re about to meet in real life someone they’ve only known via words on a screen:

“Is she like, legit?”

And my friend couldn’t stop raving, and I knew then that words on screen matched words in real life for Angie Washington {Of course, I figured that was the case}. And I understood clearly that I wanted to stay connected with this particular blog-friend on a regular basis– regardless of latitude. She was too precious not to keep rubbing shoulders, or online words, with.

And so a few months later, when I was thinking of the concept of this site and the need for it in the lives of missionaries on the field, I immediately thought of Angie. Not only is she a stellar and honest writer, but she consistently points people heavenward with encouragement and challenge– exactly the kind of person we need at the helm of this community. I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to do for some of you what she did for me during some of my darkest days on the field.

Laura Parker, October 2012

**********

Laura Parker. Co-Founder, Editor. As a child, Laura wanted to be Amy Carmichael, and in college, she wanted to be an English teacher living in an African hut. When her first attempt at overseas missions became an epic failure, lasting three months instead of several years, she began to think that foreign ministry was perhaps more difficult than the books made it out to be. This was a truth made clear during her second stint living overseas, this time with three small children, in SouthEast Asia. As a freelance writer and avid blogger, Laura wrote gritty and honest about her time in the field, building a community of missionaries, hungry for authenticity about  the difficulties of living overseas. In addition to writing for her personal blog, LauraParkerBlog, Laura has also been a freelance writer and photographer for Compassion International. She has been published in RELEVANT Magazine, MomSense magazine, a Deeper Story, {In}Courage, SheLoves and other online websites. Currently, she works with a counter-trafficking NGO. You can find her at her personal site, LauraParkerBlog and can follow her on twitter at @LauraParkerBlog.

 

Angie Washington. Co-Founder, Editor. Angie has been living the adventure with her husband and their five kids in Bolivia for over a decade. Together they have started: multiple bible schools, an international office for equipping Latin leaders through media and conferences, a local church, a K-12 Christian school, and an orphanage. She has a personal blog called “The @“. Her blog topics range from street art to adoption to cooking with gas. Through her writing she hopes to push people to love God, love people and enjoy life. Straddling hemispheres creates a continual need for her to rely on Christ… and coffee! When not writing, chilling with the fam or doing missionary stuff she collects cactus plants, takes pretty pictures and hangs out with her friends.