Honest Struggles

My aunt told a story the other day about a child answering the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi,” said the lady on the other end, “is your mother busy?”

The child looked around and saw her mother doing what she always seemed to be doing and replied, “Nah, she’s just walking around.”

The mother – as any mother could tell you – was not just walking around.  If she was walking anywhere, she was walking from the office desk to the kitchen, or from the laundry room to the crib.  She had task after task to complete and only a few hours to do so.

But in the eyes of the child, Mom was just hanging around the house waiting for something better to do.

phone

For the first time in my life, that’s exactly how I feel these days.  When I try to explain furlough to people, or answer the “Why are you back here?” question a few times a day, I often get the feeling people still leave thinking, “Well, they’re just walking around.”

Furlough is, in my estimation, one of the hardest parts of “being a missionary.”  It’s great fun to see friends and spend time with family and share the exciting things that are going on overseas.  And it’s nice to embrace the conveniences of first-world life and anticipate the coming fall.  But it’s draining.  When your job is exciting people about God’s work and telling people about your ministry, you never stop working.  And when you do, you feel like you’re letting people down.

And on top of that, in the midst of our passport updating, Amanda’s name changing, our work on newsletters, blogs, and prayer cards; amidst our preparations for speaking engagements at schools and churches, so many people who see us assume, “Well, they’re back in the States for six months just hanging around.”

Sorry for the woeful musings.  If you’re the praying sort, do pray that Amanda and I will find a good balance between work and rest, that we’ll maintain a trust that God’s grace is sufficient even when we fail again and again at “doing furlough right” (if that’s even possible).  Pray that our time with family and friends won’t be clouded by a business mentality.  That our partners won’t be “financial supporters” to us, but real people.  And that we won’t be “missionaries in Papua New Guinea” to our partners, but real people too.

3 thoughts on “Honest Struggles

  1. Of all people, you don’t need to worry about anyone thinking that you or Amanda are just hanging around. Maybe “have you considered cutting back on the caffeine?” or “running around like a Kenyan”, but certainly not walking around. I’m more concerned that you’ll have to wait until you get back to PNG to get some rest.

  2. is there a “right” way to do a furlough? my sister and family were missionaries for over 40 years. I don’t think they ever felt like they had finally arrived as far as being on furlough was concerned. I always watched them work themselves to death on what was supposed to be a 9 month period of rejuvenation. and, yes, they did have certain people think they were sitting around eating bon-bons (so to speak) and outright tell them as such. I have yet to see a missionary just hanging around during furlough – unless they were hospitalized due to exhaustion. I would venture to say you and Amanda would be closer to the latter scenario than to the former.

    there is a balance, and it takes time to find it. maybe even years.
    ever since i knew you were coming stateside, my prayer has been that your time “back home” (even in the midst of raising support, giving updates, etc), would be one of encouragement, peace, rest and clear direction. and it shall remain so until you return to PNG.

    we love you. we pray for you.

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