14 things your missionaries might like to tell you, but feel inhibited

NOTE: Many thousands have read this little article, thanks so much! May I invite you to share it with your mission board; your friends; sign up for my blog, at right; to read an article about missionary letters;  a recent article on Acts 1:8; and our missionary website where we describe our works as theological educators in Costa Rica.

Let me put on my missionary hat!

When Paul and Barnabas returned home from their journey, they “gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Your church’s missionaries periodically pay you a brief visit. They will tell you about their successes and failures, and thank you for your support.

 There are things your visiting missionaries might wish to tell you but feel they cannot:

 When we’re visiting you, we haven’t actually “come home.” We live elsewhere, and are temporarily visiting the place where we used to live. Especially for missionary kids, “home” is far from here. We are usually keen to get back to where we belong.

Don’t assume that we are up to date on all the latest U.S. culture.

“So, where was I? Anyway, that was so sad when Billie Dee got hurt. And, AND!…I think that Meryl and Maks might have a little romance going…Well of course, I wouldn’t be caught dead voting for Chelsea…”

We are aware that we look older-heavier-greyer-balder than the last time we passed through town. Everyone at your church does, too, but it’s basic courtesy not to mention it! (more…)

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My first mission trip: Romania, post Ceauşescu

The city of Bucharest in December, 1994 was celebrating the 5th anniversary of Ceauşescu’s overthrow. I attended another celebration, the grand opening of the first Pizza Hut in Romania. It was also frigid cold.

I was teaching Greek 1 at Timotheus Bible College. The building was still only a shell. It had sporadic electricity, but was without indoor plumbing, doors, heat, and in some cases, walls. I hadn’t known to bring boots, so my feet turned numb as I stood for hours on cold concrete. We had a fire burning in a covered 55-gallon drum. One memorable morning I illustrated some fine point of Greek with a dramatic sweeping gesture, and knocked loose the stove-pipe, filling the room with smoke until some guys managed to re-attach it. The power would go on and off. Cats padded in and out. Snow drifted in the hallways.

After class was lunchtime, and the volunteer ladies would bring in a typical meal of ciorba (CHORE-buh; a thin vegetable soup), bread and, for our vegetable, pickled tomatoes.

That was my mission.

Greek class - "Better keep your coats on!"

Greek class – “Better keep your coats on!”

And I loved it. As it turned out, they invited me back three times, once more in winter and twice in summer, adding Greek 2 and later Bible Interpretation to my teaching load.

Third trip, Jan 1996

My host, Ion, was an engineer who had helped to design (more…)