If you are in a season of questioning missions, I can tell you to GO and go quickly. Do not waste another minute. The harvest is plenty and the workers are few!! He goes before us and lays out our path, so be obedient and follow!!
The culture won’t make a bit of sense and you’ll even resent the people sometimes, or think how they do things is ridiculous. But you will learn how to live there. You’ll learn new cultural cues. You’ll begin to see how they do make sense in your new culture. And in the learning, you’ll grow to love the people. So learn to laugh at yourself!
Don’t give up! When you go, determine that you’re going to stay. It’s like God meant marriage to be. It won’t always be easy, but make it work! Don’t expect the other person to change. Change as you need to. And there’s probably no better environment to promote change in us than working in another culture.
Missionaries who think they’re going overseas to do a great work for Jesus amuse me. We merely participate in the work God is already doing. Of course, all our friends at home will tell us what a great and wonderful thing we’re doing. Then WHAM! We come face-to-face overseas with all our inadequacies and weaknesses. We realize how much we’re actually going to have to depend on God to see something accomplished. Many missionaries, when confronted with the reality of living in a foreign culture and the time needed to influence people, simply become discouraged, turn around, and come home. Only when we realize our total dependence on God, wait on him, and work with him, do we finally see some beautiful fruit.
I wish I had known that we would be “accidentally” forgotten by our closest friends and family. They don’t mean to forget, they just get busy with their family, jobs, activities, and just life back home. The first few weeks or months the emails, Skype calls, and letters come frequently and are so encouraging and uplifting. As the months turn into years, they come less and less frequently. Eventually, some stop altogether.
You must know, before coming overseas, that their lives will go on. Some who you think never will are going to “accidentally” forget you. Don’t take it personally. Try to keep the lines of communication open.
Also realize your value system is going to change dramatically. As you see true poverty and suffering, it will be difficult to listen to your friends back home talking so materialistically about life. Try not to judge them. They have not seen what your eyes and heart have seen. So some people you used to have much in common with may suddenly not appeal to you quite as much as you and your value system changes.
You will always be a foreigner in the eyes of the people you have come to serve, because you are. Accept that and don’t try too hard to be like one to them.