This missions journey has not been what we expected…at all. Now, maybe you think we are fools for having any expectations, but we are human. I assure you, our expectations were low. Our goal was to come and be a blessing, plain and simple. Maybe too simple. We had a few other ideals–we didn’t want to be “lazy” missionaries, we didn’t want to live too comfortably, we wanted our kids to thrive, we wanted to have relationships with Ethiopians, etc… But most of all we just wanted to come and be a blessing in some way.
Thinking back to our preparation for coming here, I laugh at myself a lot. We thought it would be easy to find things to do, to fit into ministry that was happening here, to get to know people. Nope. Not easy. Every bit of everything we do is a struggle and takes a lot of carefully calculated work. There’s no chance to be “lazy” when even a simple task like grocery shopping takes a half a day, but who wants to spend all their time doing that? Not me.
We spend more time trying to figure out how to make things work than we spend doing them. We have had to let go of all previous expectations we had and attempt to not have any new ones. Everything is a fine line. I feel like I’m constantly trying to figure out the “right” way to do things. We live on the edge–but not in an adventurous way. Stress! It takes the tiniest little faltering to push you over the edge.
I am tired of living on that edge. I am weary from constantly trying to figure things out and make things fit or work. This life is exhausting, to say the least. We did NOT expect that. Not all the time anyway. Maybe after you spend years and years in another culture things just start to work out better or you don’t feel quite as drained from the differences, but after one year, we are not there yet. Not even close.
Now, we have also had more incredible experiences than I ever dreamed possible. We have made some amazing friends and I didn’t expect that either, our kids have excelled, our expectations have been blown in both directions, so we just say this experiences has not been what we expected, both in good and bad ways. I’m sure we are not the first pie-eyed missionaries to feel that way and anyone who has been a missionary for years is now laughing at me, hysterically. If you are considering becoming a missionary, please know that the experience will NOT be what you expected no matter what.
It is eye opening and life changing–we did expect that, just not in the form we got it. This past year has been the best and worst of our lives. We have learned a LOT, we have grown a lot, we have changed forever. I can only hope and pray that somewhere along there we have been a blessing to someone in some way. Most days, the actual ministry we do is so drowned out by all the struggle. It is easy to lose site of why we came here and what we wanted to accomplish and only focus on the struggle. It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves and wonder what the purpose was in all of this. Why did we give up so much to accomplish so little? And then, we are reminded that we did it to follow God’s leading. This is HIS master plan, we are just along for the ride. If He chooses to use us to bless others along the way, we are fortunate. Perhaps our expectation should just have been to continue to stay in God’s will and then this would have been exactly what we expected. I do not doubt that He brought us here. For what? Only God truly knows. 🙂 And perhaps that is the way it should be.
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say with all of this…maybe a few things: This life is hard, this is not what we expected, we are tired, we are changed, we have been blessed and still hope to be a blessing. Above all, God is good. We know that and have been reminded of it often on this journey. Also, we are ready for whatever God has next. We still have no idea what that is, but we are ready.