Loneliness is a very real thing for a missionary to deal with
Loneliness can be a terribly difficult thing to endure. God said of Adam, “…It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Gen. 2:18). Some will say that this passage was only referring to having a wife (helpmeet), but I think it goes much further than that. You cannot get much lonelier than being the only one of a certain being. This is exactly what God is; He is the only God. There is no other God. There are many other beings which surround Him: angels, cherubim, seraphim, but there is no one with whom he can relate to; no one who can fully understand Him. So he creates man in His own so that He can relate to man. He can have some fellowship with man.
So it is with the missionary. He is surrounded with people every where he goes. They are friendly, nice and caring, but he cannot be himself with even one of them. He may be with pastors, and you might think that a missionary can be himself around other pastors, but pastors don’t view missionaries as their peers. It is true, that they are both ministers, but their jobs are very different, and they cannot truly relate to each other. So there is a loneliness there for the missionaries and their families. This is most difficult for their children.
Like any other human being, they like to talk about other things than church. They have personalities too. Before being a missionary, they might have had an interest in: hunting, cars, painting, welding, or any number of things. When they are constantly talking about “missions,” they are constantly “on the job.” It is refreshing for the missionary to find someone who will just treat him as a person. So it is for his wife and children as well. They are relaxed to meet people who don’t treat them like a missionaries wife or an MK (Missionaries Kid). Even though they might be surrounded by their own countrymen, they can never “let their hair down” and have a perfectly normal relationship. They might be surrounded by other Christians, but they are never truly accepted as one of the group. In a large part, this is because they are usually with a church for a day and then they move on. Because of their “tumbleweed status” people tend to not get close enough to them to allow any personality to shine through–only work.
Missionaries can never tell you how much they feel alone. It is even difficult for them to relate to other missionaries who are not from the same field as they are. If they could, they would like to convey this to the churches because it not only would help them personally, but it would influence the churches attitude toward missions in a big way.
Things your Missionaries wish you knew but were afraid to tell you.