I am a missionary. I'm not sure what mental images that brings to your mind. Sometimes I don't like telling people what I do for fear they will judge me with their preconceived ideas of what they think I am or should be. And as a people pleaser, I've always been about trying to be what others expect of me. (Thankfully, the Lord is delivering me from this burden!)
I grew up, from age 10 on, with the title of missionary kid. As a child of missionaries I moved from our home country, the U.S.A., to another country because my parents felt called of God to serve him there. They did church planting (among other things) on a small island in the West Indies. There I experienced many things. From the thrilling: like seeing the town drunk come to Christ and seeing God make a 360 degree change in his life to experiencing a volcanic eruption to sailing on the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea to hiking in a lush tropical forest, picking wild orchids from tree tops to battening down windows while waiting out hurricanes to holding malnourished babies on the brink of death. To the mundane: driving two hours to church every Sunday on bumpy roads and spending ALL DAY in the boring village (I didn't always have a good attitude about that) to cleaning up chicken poop that our stupid chicken deposited in our classroom (we learned quickly that having a pet chicken was a dumb idea) to learning how to cook to going to school to missing out on going to a prom (I've heard it's very overrated) to enjoying summer weather 365 days a year and always having a tan.
I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world. My parents served in that country for almost 12 years. 7 of them I spent with them before I headed back to the states for college.
At age 15 I felt God tugging at my heart, gently pointing me in the direction of also serving Him overseas as a -gulp- missionary. Did I really hear Him right? Fast forward to my freshman year of college. There it was again, stronger than ever, God's gentle voice, this time with a continent attached - Africa! After a short trip to the countries of Zimbabwe and South Africa in 1988, I was sure.....Africa was where I was supposed to live and work.
To make a much longer story shorter I'll just say that God brought me together with my husband and showed us that He did want us serving him in Africa. Although we started with 18 months in Madagascar (which is NOT Africa, BTW) we ended up here on the "dark continent" and found the place where God had wanted us all along.
2007 marks the 10th year since we left America as "missionaries". I think I disliked the title because I had so many expectations of myself.....I felt I could not measure up to what I felt I needed to be as a missionary - spiritually or physically. That I couldn't measure up to what my parents had done or what other missionaries I knew had done.
Thankfully over the years God has shown me that my life has absolutely nothing to do with the title missionary. It has everything to do about obedience and having a deep, abiding relationship with Him. He had to take me to Madagascar and Africa to teach me that. He's still teaching me that.
He could have asked me to stay in Sarepta, Louisiana for 10 years or move to Moscow, Idaho or New York City. But he didn't. He asked me to go across the "big pond" as Mama Dottie, my great-grandmother, used to call it and just be obdient one day at a time.
So yes, I'm a missionary. I plan on blogging some more about some of the things I do here in Mozambique, Africa. It may not be what a missionary in Japan does or a missionary in Colombia or a missionary in Moscow, Idaho. But it's what God has called me to do. And that's all I'm held accountable for.