5 Struggles We've Had (So Far) As First Time Missionaries
Written by Samantha
Let me start with this: we are stoked for what God has for us in Budapest, Hungary! We cannot wait to get on a plane on September 10th and begin the 20+ hour trek from Lakeland to Budapest. Sometimes we can't even put into words how we feel about it so when someone asks if we're excited we just look at each other with our eyes wide and our smiles plastered across our face, then one of us attempts to make noises sound like words that portray what emotions are coursing through our bodies. It's joy. It's excitement. It's anticipation. It's whatever-the-word-is-for-being-so-ready-for-something-that-you-can-hardly-sleep.
As first time missionaries who have yet to leave American soil, we have faced a few struggles and challenges as we prepare and we definitely don't think we are the only ones to experience them. We just want to be real with you all. We don't want to sugar coat the things we are going through and we certainly won't sugar coat the things more experienced missionaries have gone through. We want to use this post not as a form of complaint but as a way to help others understand the struggles associated with missions work as we experience them. We knew that this road wouldn't be without a few bumps, but my goodness sometimes it feels like there are giant boulders in our path. Praise the Lord, though, that our God can move mountains!
Here are five struggles we have experienced so far.
We talked about it in this blog post and we've been pretty open with our email subscribers about how easy it is to let the lies Satan whispers into our head become things we believe. As we begin to recognize and bring this to light we can easily combat negative, doubtful thoughts with Scripture and truths God has set before us. And God, being the amazing and wonderful God that He is, somehow always has someone message us, text us, or tell us something encouraging when we need it the most. We can't tell you how many "God-moments" we've had recently where He has used the people around us to speak to us. It's amazing to witness that despite how real and in-our-face the doubt can be.
Go and email, text, or message a missionary you know right now with a word of encouragement. I guarantee you will make their day!
2. lack of support from the body of Christ.
This is something I want to be careful to write about because this isn't a blanket statement whatsoever. We have amazing friends, family members, and fellow church members who have supported us, have committed to praying for us along the way, and that help in every way they can. I actually would daresay that we have more people in support of what we are doing than against it. It's strange, though, how despite the 99 people who believe in you, that 1 person who doesn't has that big of a hold on you.
It hurts when we have brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ who are not exactly thrilled at what we are doing. It hurts when (in their eyes) we are "too young", or "too inexperienced", or we can't share Jesus because we don't have a seminary degree, or that we can't go to Europe to spread the gospel because they having running water and nice clothes and seem to have every need met.
We need encouragement, friends, and I know a lot of other missionaries do as well. We need to rise together as the Body of Christ and encourage one another and not discourage the work the Lord has for someone. We need to let our conversations be "... full of grace, seasoned with salt..." (Colossians 4:6) towards each other.
3. Online exposure.
Getting exposure online is tough, period. But it seems like once you attach the word "Christian", "God", or "missionary" to whatever it is you're posting, you get about half the engagement that you would when you leave those words out. It's been incredibly difficult trying to get engagement on our website, Facebook page, and Instagram. We're trying to break the norm of a typical "Christian website", and you can help us immensely by sharing our posts or vlogs, commenting, offering feedback, and following us on Facebook and Instagram!
4. disconnect from relationships.
This is something that I am finding myself struggle with more than Johnny. Knowing that we are moving overseas for an undetermined amount of time is something that is hard for me to grasp sometimes and when I remember it (even subconsciously), I find myself disconnecting from relationships I previously was incredibly invested in.
My dad worked overseas for a good portion of my life. He would work overseas for three months and then come back home to the States for two weeks, and then leave for another three months. He did what he had to do to provide for my family and there is not one day that goes by that I am not thankful for the incredible man he is.
But, when I was younger, I would purposely not connect with him that much so that when it was time for him to leave again it wouldn't hurt as bad. It was a coping mechanism I used and it was wrong. As I got older, I pushed that old behavior away because I realized how badly it was hurting my dad and I's relationship. But, as we prepare to leave America, I find myself reverting back to those old ways with friends and family who have been a constant in my life for years.
Though I don't believe that everyone struggles with this, I do believe that I'm not alone in this. Leaving friends and family hurts and an easy (but not right) way to deal with it is by disconnecting. It's something I'm constantly working on.
5. knowing what to do while we wait.
This is hard. So, so hard. We have 50-something days until we move to Budapest and those days are filled with us trying to figure out how we can use our time wisely. We write lots of blog posts, we send out a weekly email update , and we try and vlog as much as we can. But the waiting period is very difficult. We find ourselves feeling like we could be filling our days with more ways to prepare or more ways to promote Capture A Cause even though we have no idea what those things could be. We try and try and try and somehow it isn't enough in our own minds.
Deep down, we know we are doing everything that we can. I think we just put pressure on ourselves to be more productive and do more work because that is what we believe we need to be doing, not what God needs us to be doing. We pray daily that God will reveal what He wants from us and that we would have the strength and motivation to do it.
We love you all, we appreciate you all, and we value you all more than you will ever know. Go hug a missionary and tell them that they are loved!