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