Although we have another week to go, our training should be over by now. A few days ago, one of our teachers waved a wand over our heads and sprinkled us with magic missionary dust.
That’s really all we need, right? Now, we are all spiritually mature. Now, we can learn that new language. Now, we can adjust to the extreme challenge of navigating a new culture. Now, we can say goodbye to our old lives with ease. It’s all magic. Except, her wand was just a toy. No dust shook from it.
Even when God directly appointed Moses, Gideon, Mary, Paul, and others for his mission he never sprinkled them with magic dust. But he did keep his promise to be with him. And he promises to be with us as well.
This week marked a turn in our training away from intense language study to the broader context of adjusting to a brand-new culture. Although veteran missionaries don’t talk about this much, studies have revealed that the trauma of transitioning to a new culture is at a similar or greater level to being a first responder in an inner-city in America.
The good news is the transition isn’t permanent and its trauma will eventually subside. The bad news is that we can expect this process to take years or longer, and our family members will navigate it at different paces with ups and downs along the way.
This week I’ve thought of Jesus’ teaching about counting the cost of following him. As the months pile up of fundraising and planning I’ve convinced myself what God has called me to do isn’t that crazy after all since I talk about it so much. But when I stop and think about it, what we’re going to do is nuts.
Before I left the pastorate one person asked me why not stay where I was because there was still a need there. Which there is. Why not let someone else go and teach the Brazilians? I’ve thought about that some. Perhaps God did call someone else to teach, but they didn’t answer that call. The post for my new position was up for a couple years without anyone saying yes.
When I consider all the costs of becoming a missionary family, the money part of it seems the easiest. You can’t put a number on the stress of living in a foreign culture long enough to experience culture shock only to return to the States frequently enough to feel out of place everywhere. There’s no dollar amount that can explain the adjustment of changing your identity to the point where you run at 10% capacity at first because, as one teacher joked, “even the dog can communicate better than you can.”
And yet, we’re still excited to go. As one classmate pointed out, “I’d rather be at 60% capacity answering God’s call, then 100% somewhere else.” Amen!
This isn’t a “woe is us” post. I’m thankful God is having us consider all the costs before we board a flight to Porto Alegre. A Rend Collective song has played in my head repeatedly, especially where they sing, “Yes I’ve counted up the cost, and you are worth it!”
Yes, God’s worth it.
No matter what God has called you to do or where he has called you to go or stay, may you count the cost and consider him worth it.
There’s one more week of training to go.
Maybe our teachers will bust out that magic missionary dust on our last day.