Honey, I Shrunk the Missionary

Honey, I Shrunk the Missionary

Ok, missionary friends, let’s be honest here. We’ve all done it. We’ve all told those shocking stories, the ones with giant spiders and malaria and chicken foot soup. We’ve all shown the gripping pictures of the dark-eyed babies and the work-calloused hands and the colorful city streets. And we’ve all expected appropriate oohing and aahing from the audience. The stories and pictures aren’t a bad thing. It’s good to give our churches and friends a glimpse into a world they might not get to see otherwise. What trips us up is why we share these things. It doesn’t take long for missionary newbies to learn what we missionary oldbies know intuitively: it’s effective and exciting to talk about the different and exotic. We get a reaction from stories that are outside the...

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An Open Letter to My Fellow Up-ended Missionary

An Open Letter to My Fellow Up-ended Missionary

Dear Friend, First I want to just sit with you for a minute. I may not know what’s happened for you, but I know the ache. I am sorry you’re in this place. So, so sorry. It’s ok to feel breathless. Life just knocked you onto your back. And it’s right to grieve. You’ve lost something precious. Maybe your dreams, or your security, or your innocence. Maybe relationships, or your ministry, or even your home. Maybe, like us, you’ve gone over and over what you could have done to keep that Thing from happening (or what others should have done). But that road’s a dead end, because it happened. It’s done. And this place is where you are. I know how hopeless this place can feel. It hasn’t been too many months since my family was struggling to regain our footing in the wake...

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The Light at the Bend

The Light at the Bend

Our road just bent in a way we didn’t expect and didn’t want. We will not be returning to our home and ministry in Papua New Guinea. This seems sudden, I know. And in a lot of ways it is. But in other ways it’s been coming for a year. Friends, we’ve just walked through a really dark season, and only now are we slowing down enough to realize the full weight of it. Much of what happened in PNG is something we can’t share, but like most real stories it’s littered with shards of broken people. It’s a hard, messy story, and we can’t pretend that away. A few months ago, a dear friend said to me, “You’ve had an awful lot of ashes this year, but I want to hear about the beauty.” She’s right. The ashes are undeniably real, and there’s no getting back some of the precious...

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An Open Letter to My On-the-Field Sisters

An Open Letter to My On-the-Field Sisters

Dear friends, Today I wore a fancy necklace. It’s just cheap costume jewelry, but it belongs to a heart sister who left it for me to wear while she’s in the States for a year, so I would think of her. That’s part of why I wore it, but also because it goes well with the flour under my fingernails and the dirt between my toes, and some days I just need to be reminded that I’m the King’s daughter. It glinted in the sunshine as I walked my youngest to school through rainy season puddles. It laid precious heavy against my chest as I chatted with some of you at the store’s meat counter and when I bought six guavas and a pile of lemons from the friendly old woman whose slurred words are hard to catch. My little one climbed up on a chair and played with it and leaned...

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Five Things Missionary Kids Need to Know About Their Feet

Five Things Missionary Kids Need to Know About Their Feet

Let’s face it, MK friends. Most of you have feet that wouldn’t win you any foot modeling jobs. (How do people get into that line of work anyway?) But your feet are my favorite kind in the world. And here is why… 1. They are dirty. Gloriously gross in the most grimy-toed, stained-soled, freedom-proclaiming way. Your bare feet are unafraid of mud and rocks and rain and dust, and you just GO, feeling the warmth and texture in every step. 2. They are knowledgeable. Your feet navigate airport security lines and busy city streets as easily as they carve a path between market stalls and run up the road to a friend’s house. They know the world really is a small place, because they’ve stood toe-to-toe with precious people from all over, people you couldn’t imagine your...

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Emmanuel, the Unafraid God

Emmanuel, the Unafraid God

They prayed for us at church this morning. We stood there under the spotlight and in front of the eyes, the missionary family ready to move to Papua New Guinea in just two weeks. And afterwards, as I hugged a good friend one last time and my throat burned thick with choked-back tears, a few kind people waited to tell us that we are brave, that they admire us. Maybe they hadn’t seen our youngest trying kick her sister while a church elder was praying blessing over us. Over our mess. Over our obedience. Because obedience is really what it is. Not special bravery. There’s nothing innately in us that qualifies us to be missionaries. The only difference between our story and theirs is that God has asked us to obey Him on the other side of the world. Life, just life in...

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