The Top 3 Challenges People Face on Missionary Trips
Everything is a whirlwind. I feel like I can never catch a breath. From living in Swaziland, Africa, for a summer, I know how it feels to live out of my comfort zone while on a missionary trip. Whether you are doing missions in your own town or if you and your family are international missionaries, some of you may also know the challenges of missionary trips. We face challenges and blessings every day from this lifestyle. How do we keep our daily walk with God fresh? How do we have “us” time? Below, I am going to dissect three challenges that many people face while on missionary trips.
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE
As I entered the country of Swaziland in 2014, I knew that I was going to struggle learning the language. With so much “clicking” and enunciation on different parts of the word, I knew this Southern girl was going to have a hard time communicating with the locals. This frustrated me. I wanted to be able to live comfortably while on missionary trips. Then one day I realized—what if God was giving me this struggle for a reason? Maybe this was His way of saying, you don’t have it all under control, and you need to put your faith in me during this hectic time. I listened, and it has stayed with me to this day. Even now, living on the move with my husband, I find it hard to even “fit in” with the dialect of the region we are in. To put it lightly, I have a Southern twang, and sometimes that makes me stick out like a sore thumb where I live in the Pacific Northwest. But I pray, and God always finds a way to use it to my advantage. So, this is the bottom line: Use this struggle of not always being able to speak the language of the region you are in to your benefit. This is especially true when on a missionary trip. Get to know people. Have them tutor you. If you do this and pray for God to guide you, the struggle of living on the move or being on missionary trips is going to turn into a blessing.
This is a big one that I struggled with, and still struggle with at times. I would like to say that I am an outgoing person who makes friends everywhere I go, but sometimes it’s hard. Going on missionary trips puts you out of your comfort zone enough by being in a different part of the world, and at the same time, you have to create relationships. The struggle is real, and quite frankly, it can be downright lonely. This part of missionary trips is one that I’ve had to pray about numerous times. Why would God give me this abundant life of being able to travel and use my talents when at the end of the day, I just feel lonely because I’m the “new kid” in the country? I’m the selfish one that wants to have these relationships that I can confide in whenever I need. I mean sure, I have my team that I go on missionary trips with, but what if I go alone? When I feel this way, God quickly reminds me of Joshua 1:9 from the Bible.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Woah. Talk about taking me two steps back. God is our number one priority when on missionary trips, and He tells us He is coming along for ride. What a blessing! The Creator of the universe is by our side at all times, even when we feel lonely. Yes, it’s nice to have worldly friends to hang out with while on the trip, but God knows the exact time when we need those relationships and will provide. He just wants us to sit back, do His work for His glory and trust in Him.
LIVING IN THE MOMENT
Many times while on my missionary trip, I felt that I needed to make something happen or keep with my schedule so that I can “move ahead” in MY plans. I quickly learned that this is a hard way to live. I remember in Swaziland I missed so many key moments with my “hut mates” or the children of the village because I was so fixated on executing my plans. I always tried to plan out my day the way I thought it should go. The majority of the time, God came in and created a “roadblock” in my plan and made me stop and smell the roses. Winston Churchill said, “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” Am I saying that it’s not good to have a plan and work towards your goals while on your missionary trips? Absolutely not! God wants us to have desires and goals. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t get so caught up in planning out your trip and fulfilling the expectations you have that you miss out on the opportunities God gives you. What I’ve learned while going on missionary trips is that God works in great ways in the moments where things go differently than you planned. Learn to cherish them. They add spice to your everyday life, and trust me, while living on the move and being in a routine the majority of the time, you’re going to want some spice! Live in the moment and don’t take anything for granted.
Going on missionary trips can be challenging at times, if not most of the time. Travelling as a missionary or a military family makes us fall into a routine at times. From speaking the language or dialect to creating relationships, the struggle comes when we are the new kid in a town or country. Above our talents and careers, God has called us to be children of Him. Everything we do, we do to the glory of Him. At the end of the day, it’s not what we can accomplish while on missionary trips, it’s what He can accomplish through us. Pray that God takes you somewhere unexpected today and live in that moment!
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