Starting all over at the infant stage
If you are a mission minded Christian, you should want to know how missionaries live; how they spend their lives serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people misunderstand missionaries because they don’t take the time to try to put themselves in their shoes. They don’t try to relate to the things that they must go through. I was once saddened when I read a book called, Missionaries or Moochanaries. In it the pastor who authored the book could clearly have never gone through living as a missionary himself. He spoke from a limited perspective of bias and could not relate to some of the difficulties missionaries endure.
Most people who live in a foreign country for any extended period of time eventually experience culture stress. This is typically manifest in feelings of being overwhelmed or frustrated. Even though this is part of their “great adventure,” it is still difficult to go through, and even more difficult for others to understand.
Missionaries being raised in their home country have a lifetime of experience on living in their home culture. When they move to a new culture, they must start over at the infant stage and learn all of the lessons that were taken for granted, all over again. They must begin taking the baby steps and learn like a child does. This is a difficult thing for the adult missionary to absorb, because in order to get back to the same level of comfort they had while living at home, they must learn at lightning speed.
This in itself is a great provider of stress. Taking baby steps, means learning baby lessons like how to hold eating utensils, what to do in a public bathroom and how to communicate with people. If the people back home could imagine what it would be like if they were dropped off in a foreign country with no friends, help or the ability to speak the language, they would do well in appreciating what a missionary goes through. While they imagine such a situation, if they would remove any statement of who they would ask for help from the equation then they would have a closer feeling for what the missionary goes through. In other words, imagine there not being anyone from whom you could solicit help. It is important to understand cultural stress because it directly affects behavior.
It is wrong to expect to receive reports of large numbers of people saved because you sent a new missionary to a foreign country. It can take years to adjust to learning all of the “ins” and “outs” of living in foreign cultures.