Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deja Vu

They told us this would happen in orientation at MAF.  They said once we got to the field, I would be so excited to finally be living out my dream as a missionary pilot, while my wife would be at home pulling her hair out trying to figure out how to manage electricity from an inverter and water from a tank.  She would be learning how to cook and maintain a house all over again, while I was doing what I had trained for and dreamed of for the last 10 years of my life.  Then, after 6 months or so, we would flip-flop; Joy would be getting the hang of everything and start to feel more comfortable managing the house, while I would start to get frustrated with flying every day, dealing with people, loading and unloading the airplane all the time, etc.

Well, I think we're starting to arrive at that point.  Joy is beginning to feel comfortable with cooking completely from scratch, doing everything in a different way, while I am starting to have feelings like, "This isn't all it's cracked up to be," and, "Why did I even come here?"  "Why did I trade a 'normal' life for one like this?"  "What am I doing here?"  All the excitement and adventure of coming to Africa have worn off, and I find myself wanting.  All the anticipation and newness are now commonplace, even a little boring. 

Maybe I should back up a little, and explain how this progression of thought came about.  I was flying yesterday (on what was supposed to be a day off) to an airstrip about 30 minutes North of Bunia.  I was flying out to this airstrip in the afternoon to pick up the governor, so the flight out was empty.  It was hot, very bumpy, and uncomfortable.  But this time I started feeling a little nauseous...a feeling I've never felt before when flying.  So I opened the fresh air vents, tried to focus on things outside the airplane, talked to myself...all the things I normally tell my passengers during my preflight briefing.  But nothing seemed to be working, the feeling just got worse and worse, so I pulled out one of the little "blue bags," fully intending to fill it.  I managed to keep my lunch where it belonged until we got back to Bunia, but it got me thinking during my flight.  "Did I come all the way out here just to be the governor's personal chauffeur?"  "How is that spreading the Gospel?"  "This isn't at all what the pictures were like!"

Then I begin to build my case against God (as if I could ever win!).  "God, if I spend one more sleepless night hugging the toilet...if I get electrocuted one more you know how hard I worked on the plumbing just so we could have water at this house?  And now everything leaks!  Is this some kind of cruel joke?!?  God, this guy shows up EVERY DAY at my gate asking for money, and EVERY DAY I argue with him and tell him to go away...If one more government official demands dishonest payment...If there's one more change in the schedule...Do you know how much I sacrificed to come here?! 

That one got my attention; I remember the other thing MAF told us in orientation...You can go overseas for any number of reasons, but if it's not for the people, you're not going to last.  If it's for flying airplanes, you can do that anywhere.  If it's for the adventure or the experience, that will soon wear off.  Sooner or later you will find yourself questioning why God "called" you here, but your answer better be for the people...learn to love the people.  Build relationships, have conversations, be involved in the community.  It's why you choose to daily put up with "missionary discomforts" like no electricity, leaky plumbing, corrupt officials, schedule changes.  For the chance, no, for the privilege of living a life for Christ and showing those around you what that looks like.  All the way home I contemplated the sacrifice of our Savior and how good I really do have it.

I am not here to "save" Congo, but if the Lord can work through me and every weakness I possess to show someone the way, then I will hug the toilet til the good Lord takes me home.  I realize some of these same thoughts and questions have already been mulled over in previous posts, but I need reminding often.  Some things are better learned over and over again.  And as one of my professors always used to say, "It's alright to be a dumb sheep when God is your Shepherd." 

1 comment:

Owen said...

I really appreciate your post, Chris. I've experienced similar feelings fitting during Ministry Partnership. It's good to remember why we are really doing this. See you soon.