My parents do not really approve of my life decisions, and sometimes it’s difficult to articulate why. Isn’t a daughter doing missions work the dream of a conservative family?
In many ways, yes, it is, but I am not doing it the normal way. When I lived overseas, I lived on $400 that I earned, and that had to go for living, saving, and sharing. Someone else paid the kids’ living expenses, but even there, we did not live off much altogether.
I was able to do this because I was not paying a missions organizations. Missions organizations require their missionaries to have health insurance, retirement, emergency and forlough funds, not to mention the training fees and the net the organization receives. I realize that health insurance is important, but living off so little was also very important to me. See, without the third party paying my bills, I was able to be leget. I did not have to report that I went on a vacation, or camped through Europe as I did one summer. I did not have feel like I had to baptize or save people. I just helped the people right in front of me.
So my parents are unsure about my method of doing missions as well as the fact that I will have no long term money in place. I am also supposed to get married and do things the normal way – being single and taking care of teens when I was 23 was not the “normal” way, even for a conservative family.
Overall, my parents try to understand, but they do not understand. It’s difficult.
I am in grad school. I have no regrets that I came here. It’s only two years of my life, and when the two years is up, I will return to Asia and resume life as before. But there is a problem, and that is that I now have to suffer each month completely misunderstood.
For example, I have a plane ticket to visit SE Asia this summer. My internet stick and phone are at my parents house as I did not bring them to Canada with me where I go to school. Unfortunately I’ve asked my parents several times to mail it, but they have insisted that I visit them this summer and have not mailed it.
The truth is, I am debating on not going. Funds are tight on me, and I am working on the internet for a month this summer and need to edit a paper to try to send off for publication. I wanted to spend all summer in the refugee camps, which would come at no cost. Sitting on a lap top even in SE Asia may cost more money than I’m willing to spend. But if I try to discuss the pros and cons with my mom, she will try to talk me into visiting her.
But it’s not really my parents’ fault either. The facts are I’m a pilgrim on this land. North America is no longer my home. I am used to another land and another way of life. I still ride my bikes around the neighborhood and feel culture shock at how big people’s homes are. I still lay on the bed at night and can’t believe I’m laying on a matress this soft. I still turn on the sink and wait for the water pump to come on, and this jump back and remember
I also feel strangely called to live in remote villages where other white people do not live. I do not know if it does great good. If the people did not like it, of course, I would not live there. But the people love it, and I love it. I figure it’s worth living there.
Another problem is that I feel that a lot of secular people do not understand me either. They think missionaries are barbaric and out to destroy culture. Most villages homes that have electricity have video games and cartoons now; most villages have schools. Those two things have upset the formerly patriarchal rule of life far more than any Christian narrative. The other funny thing is that when the locals complain about missionaries to me, it’s never a complaint because they told them about Jesus. The complaint is usually, “they threw their leftovers in the garbage” or “they did not sit down and eat a snack with me.” These are cultural misunderstandings. We think food that is a week old is bad; they think it is animal food but are too shy to ask.. We think that everyone brings their own lunch or snack, and they think community.
All this has no purpose other than to say that life in my position is crazy right now. I miss the old way of life, and I will be back.
I’m disabling sending email notifications on this post. Hopefully it works as I suspect this is not a post most people want to read. After all, it was written in the middle of the night.