I am often asked to describe life as a 'missionary in Thailand'. It's hard to describe it all. It's a beautiful country and the ppl are kind. As a missionary your life becomes more dependent on the Lord and your faith and walk become deeper. But you are also tested and tried a lot more than ever before. But just like any job there are both ups and downs. But here are a few key things I've noticed true for myself and my fellow missionary friends that I don't think most people know the truth about:
1. Everything takes 10 times longer. Wether it's because of language barrier or cultural differences every task, errand or phone call takes at least 10 times longer than normal. That's just the way it is and you get used to it.
2. Your new cologne/perfume is deet - Yep, bugs, bugs and more bugs. I'm not a big fan of spraying myself with chemicals, however living here it's either that or get eaten alive.
3. Everything you do will be watched and recorded. It's hard to complain on social media, or to tell about your difficult days, because your supporters and those looking up to you as a "missionary" (even though they shouldn't put you on a pedestal) are seeing and hanging onto every word . This can be hard when you want to be real, but not be judged.
4. The relationships you make are much deeper than you can imagine. With the children in the children's homes to the rescued trafficking victims, you tend to spend a lot of time building deep relationships with kids that you never would have normally met before. Not to mention the love of fellow missionaries. All of these relationships are far from superficial and usually are for life.
5. People often think you are on an extended vacation. Missionaries are sometimes viewed as having a great time off in a far distant country living up the good life. (First off- I challenge any and all of these ppl to spend some time in our shoes). With that said, yes some days the views are like no other, or the restaurant we ate at also had a pool and we were served smoothies by the pool while waiting for our dinner to be served (although you won't see pics because of #3). But I assure you the daily and sometimes hourly challenges that we face do not compare to these "luxuries". Not to mention all the luxuries we have left behind.
6. You are attacked spiritually like you've never experienced before. In a country where they worship false gods and idols the spiritual warfare is unbelievable. I've seen and experienced things that have frightened me more than anything else. It's so prevalent and immanent that you can feel it, as an overwhelming presence. Pray for all missionaries on the battle field. The attacks are real.
7. You are extremely lonely, but no one will ever know. You literally sold almost everything you own and left everything and everyone behind. Yeah, it gets lonely. And yes you make new friends eventually but you can't replace family. And it takes years to build new relationships, especially if you are still learning the language.
8. You become a professional beggar. Until you've had to live it you really just don't understand it. I remember hearing the christian radio station at that particular time of the year where they raise money so they can stay on air. It used to bother me that they wouldn't get to the point and just play the next song! And then I got called to missions. From bake sales, to standing in the snow at a traffic light with a sign and a bucket while getting cussed out (yeah no joke that really happened) - missionaries have to go through a great ordeal to raise support, and what's worse is it's never ending. Many ppl will either de-friend you or ignore you - perhaps they are afraid you're going to hand them another support letter.
9. Not everyone remembers you. It is just like the old saying "out of sight, out of mind". And who can blame them. We all tend to "lose touch" with friends after they move away. But as a missionary you are always looking for that comfort, support and familiarity that you used to have. That's why it is imperative to cling to Christ and have a team of prayer warriors that you keep in contact with regularly.
10. You can't take a vacation like you used to. It's hard to take a vacation (even though it's with your own personal money you saved up to do it with). There are echoes playing over and over in your mind of comments or remarks from ppl who assume and don't ask. I still remember the first time I was told of a remark that someone made in ignorance about my family. It hurts and it sticks with you, if you have doubts about a missionary talk to them, don't assume. Find out the truth.
11. The relationships you make are much deeper than you can imagine. With the children in the children's homes to the rescued trafficking victims, you tend to spend a lot of time building deep relationships with kids that you never would have normally met before. Not to mention the love that is shared with and from a new believer with gratitude for the change in their life. Nothing compares to it.