9 things i believed about missionaries…until i became one.

and then i REALLY believed them.  haha no i’m kidding, although on some of these points, you’ll see that i may have been right to believe some of them!  and if you’re wondering why there’s 9 and not, say, 10, well…it’s simply because i don’t like to make even-numbered lists.  so those of you who are OCD about lists and think they  need to be in 5s or 10s or 3s…booya.

alrighty, and here we goooo…top 9 things i believed about missionaries (and still may)!

1. all the women wore long flowery skirts and collared, button-down shirts, and socks with sandals.  might possibly have long braided hair.

well, at least we don't have to dress like this anymore.

well, at least we don’t have to dress like this anymore.

prior to actually considering the missions life, i’d seriously thought all the women dressed like as i’d just described.  i remember meeting some missios who came to our church to share, and most of them fell right into this category!  and as time went on, i guess missios became more and more stylin’, so it’s rare to see this these days…though i went to orientation with 2 women who actually fit this exact stereotype.  well, except they had solid colored shirts instead of flowery ones, so i guess it’s not as mismatched.  but then again, what do i know?  i’m not a stylin’ missio anyway.  after my first year, i went home and sold 85% of my super nice work clothes for pennies.  now i’m just casual (or quite possibly out of fashion) all the time.

my language teacher says i dress like a university student.  with my hair now getting longer, she says i’m starting to look more and more like a woman.  if this keeps going on, i just might end up with a flowery skirt.  heavens, no!

2. they live in huts and don’t have electricity all the time.  

yes, i blindly/naively/ignorantly believed that missionaries all lived in totally worn down flats, if not huts or…i don’t know…teepees?  that’d be kinda cool.

yurt

or a yurt.  who wouldn’t want to live in this?

3. they’re crazy jesus fanatics.  

all they want to talk about is jesus.  if you don’t know jesus, they want to talk about jesus with you.  and if you already know jesus, they still want to talk about Jesus with you.  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  essentially they’re like mormons, but without the white shirt/black tie/black pants/skirt and different theology.  i’ve actually met missios that fit this stereotype.  they are courageous in turning conversations into altar calls, and like to (nicely & politely) Jesus juke everyone.  while i admire their boldness, it is definitely intimidating when i come across people who are literal human forms of the verse “the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (heb. 13:15)

or maybe i just don’t love jesus enough.

nawwww, who am i kidding?  He’s my favorite God-person (and the only one i know of)!

he's my favorite God-person.

“…and even i didn’t wear socks with sandals.”

4. they’re christian supermen/wonderwomen.  

this one kind of goes with #3.  they know every bible passage from memory and therefore have a biblical answer to every question.  physically speaking, they don’t need sleep because they’re too busy going  from ministry to ministry talking about Jesus x 3.  they’re like christian versions of the phrase, ‘money never sleeps’, which  ironically enough, they don’t have a need for either.  which leads to the stereotype that…

5. they are poor.  

maybe i thought since they all lived in huts, they were considered poor (it didn’t even occur to me that perhaps the culture they lived in simply, well, lived in huts).  but i guess this one depends on what organization you go with, what field you’re in, or if people are independents, how much money they’re choose to raise.  while the standard of living varies depending on the mission field they serve in (and so many missios serve in 3rd world countries), strangely enough, they are still more rich than 90% of the world (as are you, if you’re reading this and you’re not a missio!  you’d actually be in the top 95% or so).

i'm a poor missio living in a 4-story teepee with a built-in bidet.

i’m a poor missio living in a 4-story teepee with a bidet.


6. they had a 10 children.  

okay, i exaggerate.  not exactly 10, but for some reason, i always thought that missios had lots and lots of kids (though i never figured out how they’d have time to actually have & manage babies since they were Jesus-ing all the time).  perhaps i thought that missios were like farmers in that they lived out in the middle of nowhere, and therefore had a lot of kids to help “run the farm” (i know, big generalisation about farming families, but just bear with me…)  in the same way, missios had to produce more missionaries for the mission field.  why not start from your own family?

that’s a logical way of thinking, right?

rigghhhhttt????  hello?

well, i heard it.

7. there was something wrong with the single men.  

this was still when i bought into the idea that everyone “grows up and gets married.”  i always thought, ‘why were they single when there was a plethora of single women in the field?  not to mention local christian women?’  it’s like being in line at a buffet of all the foods in the world, but then getting to the front and deciding you don’t want to eat and instead want to go outside, sit on the curb by yourself, and eat your ham sandwich out of a ziploc bag from your tin lunchbox.  just because. (gift of singleness aside, of course).

he chose poorly.  (unless God told him otherwise).

he chose poorly. (unless God told him otherwise).

honestly (and realistically) speaking – today, women are at a disadvantage here in terms of ratio, so i found it hard to understand this…  before i actually became a missio, i met some single male missios at conferences and such, and during Q&A’s, the subject of singleness always came up.  it was interesting to note that in all these years, out of the 4 or 5 people i’ve heard share, they all mentioned having dated (either local or other missios) but still wanting to stay single, not because they felt they had the gift of celibacy (interestingly enough), but “just because.”  i should also mention that all these men were over 40 years old.  not sure if that has to do with anything?

just because they wanted to focus on ministry.  just because having a family would divide time.  just because they felt like they couldn’t handle caring for a whole family.  and a plethora of other reasons.  seemed to me like there were other issues there, but i’m not a guy, so i guess i’m not able to say what’s really going on inside their heads.

anyway, i’m still not sure what to think about this these days.  being a single in the field myself, i understand the joy & benefits of staying single in the field (other than the fact that this is just how God has kept me, which i’m perfectly content in).  also, single male missios are rare these days,  anyway, especially amongst the younger missios (of course, this is just conjecture).  most young male missios seem to get married before they reach the field or within a couple years of being on the field.  but i wonder if it’d be possible to get stats on how many single males in the fields are above 40 and how many are below?  it’d have to be an ongoing study, though, to see how many of the under 40s remain single past 40 years old…

8. if the woman went out single, she would stay single.

this goes along with #7.  i’ve always thought this.  because there’s less of a chance that a single woman would meet a single male missio on the field, i just assume that once you go out single, you’d better just prepare yourself to stay that way.  i’m curious to know what the percentage is, though, of single female missios who marry locals or another single male missio?  i think i mentioned in my previous post the stats of my own field:

21 men
42 women

21 married men
21 married womem
(obviously these two add up :))

0 single men
21 single women

hey, half the women in our field are single!  i should emphasize, that i don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a single missio female.  but just pointing out the obvious, here.  i’m curious to know what the other stats are for other countries and other agencies.  i’m also really curious (as i mentioned above) what the ratio is of single male/female missios who end up marrying while out in the field, and whether they marry a local or another single missio (or someone from home).  anyone got stats on that???

9. once you go missio, there ain’t no coming back.

some things you just give your all to.

some things you just give your all to.

things have changed so much these days.  people come and go after one term (or half a term) which i’m not sure is a good or bad thing.  but i definitely remember hearing stories of missios back in the day, who essentially set out on a boat (or later on in a plane) and for them – they weren’t planning on going back.  they were in it for life.  i think that’s part of what made becoming a missio such an IMpossibility to someone like me – i couldn’t even imagine the next year of my life, much less “forever!”

but i suppose now that i’ve actually become a full-timer, this is the mentality that i have.  i’m in it for life, or until God calls me elsewhere…which for now, doesn’t seem like is going to happen, but i guess that’s not up to me.

so there ya have it.  my top 9 things i assumed about missionaries.  did i miss any?  what are some of yours?

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One thought on “9 things i believed about missionaries…until i became one.

  1. c.wu says:

    i think the wrong assumption for me was that they were all church-planters or only lived in a country within the 10/40 window. like i would’ve never thought ppl going to Europe for missions was actually missions.

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