Last week I stopped by to visit a family who arrived in Kenya a couple of years ago. I had met the wife, discovered our kids knew each other at school, and was very interested in their story. We sat on the front porch and they reminisced about their family’s first two years as missionaries. God’s re-direction had been surprising but clear, and they prepared for a ministry that was a great fit between Africa’s needs and their skills. It was ideal. Still, it took a lot of effort, faith, planning and letting go of their affluent life in the USA to embark on this new adventure.
They arrived with high hopes… but before long some things began to fall between the cracks. Things like mix ups about the kids schooling and their housing. And the work place wasn’t ready and there was minimal professional orientation or cultural coaching. The husband said, “I hated going to work.”
Yet, in the midst of the real deal there were bright spots… they were making progress with language learning; there were people who reached out with generosity and kindness and helped in practical ways. And they found a great car just after they arrived! Nonetheless, it was a long period of transition that felt like walking uphill lots of the time.
As we ended our conversation, we all agreed that obeying God didn’t mean the” good times” were about to begin. I asked if they had any advice I could give to incoming missionaries.
“Tell them to take their list of expectations, and then
… just let go of the whole thing!”