I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t blog enough to be a blogger. Thankfully, I know a lot of wise, talented writers who have agreed to guest blog for me. Our first guest blogger of 2016 is Trisha Dickinson. Trisha and I met in college because our boyfriends (Colby and Josh) were childhood friends. When Trisha and her husband moved to Senegal as missionaries, I began to follow their blog. Reading about their lives consistently challenges me to follow Christ with more abandon. Today I have asked Trisha to tell us Five Ways the Mission Field has Changed Her.
Four years ago, I stood in the cold, drizzling North Carolina rain as I watched all of our belongings being turned and shoved until they fit tightly inside the 4 plywood crates that would carry them across the Atlantic Ocean to West Africa. My heart raced as each crate was nailed shut.
We knew the Lord was calling us overseas, but as the last plywood door was sealed, I felt fears and worries clouding my mind as I desperately prayed about the unknowns in front of me. What would my life look like next year?
As I think about that girl fretting in the rain, I wish I could tell her everything would be great, but the truth is: no matter where the Lord leads you, there will be easy times and rough times. We have to learn and change as we go if we want to become the people God called us to be.
After four years of serving as a missionary in rural Senegal, here are five changes that I hadn’t anticipated.
- My view on missions has changed. When I was a short-term missionary, I could go at mock speed with intense passion sharing, loving and laboring because I knew the inconveniences didn’t compare to the eternal significance of the work. I could recover after the trip. But, where do you go to recharge if your home is the mission field? It has taken some time to find balance between ministry and having a home for our family to relax. It’s still a work in progress.
- My fears have changed. I’m a regular mother with normal mom fears but I’ve added things like malaria, hepatitis and one of my children falling down an uncovered well to my list. All my fears have to go to God because living out here there are no “safety nets.”
- I’ve chilled out. I like lists, schedules and order. Africa does not appreciate my need for organization. Our first Christmas here, my mother sent a huge box of gifts for the kids. Instead of arriving in a reasonable manner, my husband had to take multiple trips to the Main Post Office and eventually found it buried in a dark, dust-filled, rat infested room at the Post Office. Unfortunately these situations are all too common here. I’ve learned that complaining and throwing tantrums rarely accomplish anything except hurting my witness or angering people. Sometimes I just have to wait.
- My view on leftovers has changed. Now that I have to cook all meals from scratch, I’ve gone from seeing a Tupperware container in the refrigerator and thinking, “Oh Yuck! I’m not eating that!” to “What Luck! I’ve got the night off!”
- My view on culture has changed. This truth hit me in the most unexpected way. I’d invited over a group of Americans for a dinner and a Senegalese friend was helping me serve the meal. One of the Americans there was strange at best…but leaning towards bizarre. My Senagelese friend whispered to me, “What’s up with him?” I responded back, “He’s a little different.” I hoped she didn’t think all Americans were like him. It’s the same for the people around me too. Some of them are nice, some mean, others selfish and lazy, some normal, and some not-so-much. I now know that you can’t judge an entire culture by a subset. As we finish our term here in Senegal, I can’t help but wonder what journeys God has for us as we continue to serve Him with our future.
Trisha serves as a missionary in rural Senegal alongside her husband, Josh and their four children. She spends most of her days homeschooling and trying to live out her faith so others will desire to know Christ.