There are times when becoming a missionary can seem like a daunting task. The deeper we get into classes, the more we are faced with the reality of what our future will look like, and while the modern missionary life is much more glamorous than what the early missionary life looked like, we also recognize that we are not signing up for a life of luxury. People have sympathized with us many times before about the things we will be giving up in order to move into a tribal location.
We are currently finishing up a class called Missionary Technology, and this class has given us a good overview of all of the things we need to think about in order to set up and live a life in the jungle. While some of the stuff excites us, there have also been moments of feeling overwhelmed at the task we are signing up for.
But I have realized many times in life that attitude is based on perspective. The most important perspective is an eternal one. To remember that all of this is worth it and possible because people will have the chance to hear the gospel for the first time ever!!
But another perspective to keep in mind is that of where my expectations and overwhelmed feelings come from. They come because I am used to living a life of luxury and ease and immediate gratification. But if I compare my life to that of the third world person, I remember that even though I am giving up, I still will have plenty.
So here are some things I have been thinking as I consider the “Missionary Life” in comparison with the “First World Life” (American) and the “Third World Life” (Papua New Guinea):
First World Problem: “My fridge is so full, I can’t find what I need out of it.”
Missionary World Problem: “My fridge is shaped like a freezer, so I can never find what I want out of it. And I have to be really careful not to leave the door open too long or I’ll waste a lot of our precious electricity! It doesn’t help that I have to order all the food I need for three months at one time because the plane probably won’t come back before then.”
Third World Problem: “It sure would be nice to have a fridge… and food.”
First World Problem: “I’m really thirsty, but getting a drink of water requires getting off the couch. And turning on the faucet. And I sure hope my ice maker is working correctly because I’m about ready to buy a new fridge.”
Missionary World Problem: “I’m really thirsty, but it’s such a pain to filter my water, and then I have to make sure I’m careful how often I turn on my water which means I usually have to think ahead to fill up all of the containers and buckets I will need for the day at one time.”
Third World Problem: “I wish I had clean water… or any water, for that matter.”
First World Problem: “Doing laundry is so time-consuming. I have to remember to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, and then I have to fold all of the laundry and hang it! I need a maid!”
Missionary World Problem: “Doing laundry is so time-consuming. Because of the type of machine I can take (thankfully there is a machine option though), I can only do small loads, and then I have to rinse the soap out in a bucket on my own, and then I have to hang dry everything, and then the rain decides to come right when my clothes are almost completely dry. And of course, I still have to fold and hang everything.”
Third World Problem: “My shirt has holes all over it, and it’s the same one I wear everyday.”
First World Problem: “Choosing lights for my house is so difficult. I have 8 billion different types of lights to choose from before someone with skill and experience can install them in my house.”
Missionary World Problem: “Choosing lights for my house is so difficult. I have 13 different types of lights to choose from before I, a person with no skill or experience, have to figure out how to install them in my house.”
Third World Problem: “During the day I have the sun. At night I have fire and the moon. What are these 13 choices you talk about?”
(Picture taken by classmate Curt Sharp)
First World Problem: “I can never keep my AC just right. I’m always either too hot or too cold.”
Missionary World Problem: “I don’t have the option of AC. I only have an option of fans. And it’s 110 degrees outside with humidity.”
Third World Problem: “Sometimes a friend will sit by me and wave a paper fan. It feels great.”
First World Problem: “I hate when my electricity goes out and it takes a whole day for someone to come fix it.”
Missionary World Problem: “I hate when my electricity goes out and I have to go to the electrical boxes and figure out what the heck is going on with all of the batteries and wires and switches and buttons. And if I can’t figure it out, then I have to spend hundreds of dollars to fly someone in to do it for me. Which might take days. And then there’s always the problem of the sun not shining for a few days which means my solar panels aren’t charging which means I don’t get electricity that I need.”
Third World Problem: “When my fire goes out, which gives light and cooks my food, I have to go find the tinder, kindling, logs, and ignition to get the fire going again.”
Thank you, Jesus, that though we will be choosing to live with less that we can still know we have plenty!
(Programming the electrical box)
(Setting up the charge controller box)
(Emily and I are excited we helped to create light!)
(Sophie modeling the "First World Problems" face)
And if you’ve never seen this “First World Problems” youtube video, you should watch it: