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Coaching

I Am A Missionary. {& why I don’t mind anymore if you call me that}

Some people call me or think of me as a missionary. And I guess they are right. My husband and I and our two kids are missionaries here in the Netherlands for at least two years. We have a missions sending organization behind us and we are supported monthly by friends and family for a portion of our salary each month. So yes, in the official sense, we are missionaries.

But I fear this word sometimes.

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I don’t ever call myself a missionary because if I’m honest I don’t feel like one and not to mention how awkward it is when someone asks me, so what do you do, “I’m a missionary.” The conversation usually ends there!

In my mind, missionaries are those people who leave everything behind. They take only the necessities. They sacrifice every comfort. They usually don’t have TV or nice toilets or soft beds. They immerse themselves into a completely foreign culture and language and make intentional time to get to know the locals every single day. The real missionaries are those whose houses are made of dirt, they live in a desert, or have to walk by foot to get fresh water each day. They are the people who hold sick children, feed the homeless, and comfort the dying.

You get the picture going on in my mind, right?

A real missionary lives on nothing, sacrifices everything, and loves people relentlessly.  

Now with that definition you can see why I don’t like calling myself a missionary.

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Let me give you a glimpse into a normal day here in the Netherlands.

First of all I’m a mother to two kiddos still fresh from the womb in my opinion. They can’t blow their own noses, wipe their own bottoms, or feed themselves. I have to do just about everything for them- wash their clothes, give them baths, make them food, and care for their emotional needs, to name just a few.

It’s a dirty job. By the end of the day, if I haven’t changed clothes already, I’m covered in crusted food particles, dirt, snot, and various other stains. It’s an exhausting job too. Most days I wake up thinking, no dreaming, about taking a nap…maybe in seven years!

Round-the-clock I am tending to their needs and making sure everyone is cared for, cuddled, and clothed.

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On top of that I’m also a wife, which means I’m constantly thinking of how to get closer to my husband. I love him so much it hurts sometimes. He is my best friend and favorite person to be with in the world. With that said, he works from home, so I also get to spend my days checking up on him. I make sure he surviving up in his man cave, and doesn’t collapse because he forgets to eat.

Then there’s nap times and dinner times and not to mention meeting up with friends and going on play dates. There’s doing dishes, taking out dishes, putting in laundry, folding laundry, and making sure I can still see the floor {aka: throwing toys in baskets}. I can count on one hand {one finger actually!} how many times I’ve mopped the tile floor since we’ve been here.

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If you have noticed yet, most of my day is fairly comfortable in the sense that I don’t have to walk miles for water or food (just around the corner actually!). I am not currently taking Dutch lessons- most people here love it when I speak English. We have a house with beds and toilets and floors that need cleaned.

It doesn’t look like the missionary life that I had in mind when I first moved to Europe fresh out of college.  

Sure, it’s messy and dirty and tiring, but not in the ways that I thought. I’m making sacrifices for my kids and family, working through the night, but again, not in the ways I thought. I’m caring for and clothing the people under my own roof most of the time. I’m loving and serving them, and learning to speak their heart language. I am preaching the gospel, but not in the center of the bustling city, more so in the quietness, or rather chaos, of my own home. Most of what I do on a typical day doesn’t take me too far from these people.

This is a normal day in the Netherlands for me.

All this to say, that is why I cringe when someone wants to call me a missionary.

The dictionary definition is this:

a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country

But can we redefine missionary today?

We are all missionaries, whether you like it or not. We are all speaking a message in the way we love and live. We are all sent people on a mission. A mission to live a normal life.  

We are sent ones. Sent out to care for those around us, whether in our own home, neighborhood, or another nation. Sent by God to walk this earth, in shoes, sandals, or stilettos.

Sent by Him to extend His hope through our homes- be it a mud hut, a country cottage, or a tall and skinny row house in the Netherlands.

Sent by Him to step out of our comfort zones and into foreign countries, even if that’s just our neighbors.

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If anything these past 9 months in the Netherlands has given me a new definition of missionary.

A missionary is one who embraces the God-adventure found in the midst of their very ordinary lives. They are not promoting a religion, but practicing a relationship with God in their everyday life. They are not trying to convert people to Christianity, but extend the care and comfort of Jesus to anyone around them- be it their dirty kids or their elderly neighbors.

This is a missionary. And in that case, yes… yes, I am a missionary. And so are you.

 

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