Recently, I had someone ask me if we were missionaries. The question gave me pause, and I had to stop to consider before I could respond.
I thought of the missionaries of old. They packed up all their belongings, boarded a ship, and spent weeks (or maybe even months) traveling to a foreign land to tell the natives about the love of Jesus. Some of these missionaries, knowing they’d die in that country, packed their belongings in their coffins.
I thought of the missionaries who spent their lives in a small village, learning an unrecorded language so that the Good News of Jesus could be read and understood in a Bible of that language.
I thought of Andrew’s parents, living and working among Ecuadorians and Uruguayans. I thought of their lifelong commitment, their skills, their obvious love and compassion for every person they meet.
I thought of some of the missionaries who are living in dangerous areas of the world. Some rescue young girls from lives of torture. Some risk their lives to spread the love of Jesus to those who live in hopeless situations. These are the people I consider missionaries.
“I guess we are, but I don’t really think of ourselves that way,” was my response.
Let’s do some comparing.
On the missionaries of old – Our family did not pack up all of our belongings. We sold most of them, but some of them are still being stored. We did not board a ship bound for some distant land. We boarded an airplane and arrived within a day. We are not working among the natives in this country. We are actually working among the citizens of our own country while living in a foreign place (American teenagers). The only thought we had of a coffin was making sure we had wills in order, just in case. We have no plans of dying in this country.
On Bible translators – The language here in the Dominican Republic is Spanish. Many people in the world speak it. Most of the people reading this blog speak it 100 times better than I do. More than one Bible has been translated into this language. We’re not here to discover an unrecorded language. Not only that but very few of my hours consist of trying to learn Spanish. As much as I would like to learn it, it’s one of the first things to fall off of my priority list. Instead, I’m trying to figure out words like “thot” and “ratchet.” (Forgive me if these words offend you. They are ones I hear often.)
On Andrew’s parents – We do not necessarily have a lifelong commitment to missionary work. We definitely knew God was calling us here, but as far as whether we’ll stay for 2 years or 20 years is something we are leaving in God’s hands. As far as meeting every person with love and compassion, I’d love to be able to do this, but I more often come across as clumsy and unsure of myself. I would love to exhibit the ability to put others at ease and feel truly important that exudes from Andrew’s Dad and Mom.
On missionaries living in dangerous areas – We do not live in a dangerous part of the world. Yes, if one does not use common sense, that person could be robbed or hurt. We are careful as far as where we go in this country and at what time of day. Other than that, we live in a place that is VERY Christian oriented. The town we live close to has more missionary organizations than anywhere else in the country. Dominicans comment on how different and nice Jarabacoa is compared to other places. We’re not living life on the edge, worried we’ll accidentally say the wrong thing and be killed because we believe in Jesus.
When I was a kid, being a missionary always seemed like a grandiose idea.
I wanted to be one of those people who did “big things” for Jesus. Now that we’re here, living this life, I realize that it’s often the smallest “things” we do that have the biggest impact.
Our normal weeks consist of many hours spent eating meals with teenagers, talking with teenagers, helping teenagers with school, laughing with teenagers, praying for teenagers, cooking meals for teenagers, making desserts for teenagers, pushing teenagers toward their potential, and loving teenagers in whatever way needed for that day.
So, what is a missionary? Maybe you can tell me because it’s nothing like what I thought it was supposed to be when I was a kid. Let me tell you a secret. Sometimes, I think we’re not really missionaries. We’re just living our lives as openly as we can and inviting others to join us. Anyone can do that.
Recently, Grady turned 4, and we thought you’d enjoy a quick look at his special day.
His birthday was on a Sunday. After lunch, his birthday activities started out with a treasure hunt to find his main present. These are the clues that were hidden in various places around our home and on campus.
As you can see from those pictures Grady enjoyed finding his clues.
We had a simple pool party with slip and slide. The kids enjoyed it, and we adults enjoyed watching them have fun (only slightly jealous we didn’t have a larger slip and slide).
Grady was given a few presents and has enjoyed all of them. The main present he received was somehow not captured in a photograph. We have videos but not pictures yet. He received two large dump trucks, big enough for him to ride in. He has one for himself and one for a friend. So far, Stella has claimed the second one. They are having so much fun with them.
Grady’s cake was supposed to go with the dump truck theme. I’m not sure you can tell from these pictures.
Finally, here are some bonus photos of our kids in the last couple of days. I don’t even need to add words. These pictures speak for themselves.
If you are interested in supporting the Stuck family go to http://crosswindsyouth.org/support-us/staff-support/. Scroll down until you find our family and follow the instructions. Thank you!