Why Missionaries don’t tell the bad things about living in a foreign country.
There are things about living in a foreign country that missionaries love to talk about, but there are other things that they don’t. They would talk about these behind the scenes things, but they know it would be hurtful to the ministry if they did. They understand that they cannot convey their message properly to someone who has never been there, or who can understand the experience of walking in their shoes.
I have been in many churches where I gave a passionate message about the need for the gospel in a foreign country. When I was done I asked, “Does anyone have any question they would like to ask me?” The questions usually revolved around such things as, “Do they have McDonald’s there?” Even though McDonalds is all around the world, there are many places where it is not. The presence of McDonald’s is not a measure for the difficulty of a foreign field or not.
Friends, things are really good in the USA. It is truly the best, most comfortable place in the world. It is difficult to live in any other place once you have been spoiled with the greatness of America.
When we first moved to the mission field, not only were we confronted with learning a new language, but simple living was very difficult. Everything was different. The markets, busses, money, doctors, banks, shopping, paying bills, everything was different and needed to be relearned. We were so ignorant that I can only explain it like being a baby trapped in an older person’s body. Even though I was an adult, I knew absolutely nothing about how to function in society. Often, because only children knew how to speak English, I was being taught how to function by children. This was a very difficult thing to endure and it takes a special kind of patience to be successful at it.
The markets were full of meat that was just slaughtered in the open not 10 feet away. It was an outdoor market and blood ran all over the floor while fly’s filled the sky. Sellers would use a palm branch to swish the fly’s away. The smells were horrendous. When we looked for beef, we were directed to a table where men were selling water buffalo. They killed it right there by shoving a garden hose down it’s throat and drowning it. This served two purposes for them. Not only did it kill the huge animal, but it also put water into the meat and they could get a better price by weight. People called out to you to buy from them. Everyone was putting their products into your face trying to convince you that their product was best. This experience is a far cry from taking a trip to Safeway or Piggly Wiggly.
There were no such things as washing machines or dryers. My wife washed the clothes of our 6 person family by hand. She did it everyday in our bathtub and hung them all out to dry. Every day she would boil water to kill the bacteria. Then when it cooled she would put it into a cistern that we made out of a clean garbage can to let the dirt settle to the bottom. All vegetables had to be washed in a solution of bleach water and iodine to kill the bugs and keep from getting hepatitis. They use human waste for fertilizer. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.
The point in bringing those things up is to say that you don’t have a lot of time to “get people saved” because you are learning how to live. You are learning how to become a whole new person, living a life that is totally foreign to anything you have ever experienced while living in America. This is part of the great adventure, but it cannot be truly shared with anyone back home. You cannot appreciate it unless you have lived it yourself. Missionaries wish they could express to the church back home, just how difficult it is to live on the foreign field, but they don’t. They don’t want to discourage people and they don’t want people to feel they are complaining about their difficulties. It would be good for missionaries to be given the benefit of the doubt, especially when going to any third world country.