13 February 2011

Frequently Asked Questions, Part II: The Slightly Personal

Have you always wanted to be a missionary?
Nope. I didn't have much interest in missions until I got to college. Even then, my idea of missions was limited; I envisioned living in huts and handing out tracts on street corners--stuff that had absolutely no appeal to me. (Well, maybe huts did, a little bit.)

I had read a novel in tenth grade about a teacher at an MK (missionary kid) school, and that made something in me come alive momentarily. I let myself push it away for years, until my junior year of college, when I took a short-term trip to Guatemala. Being there made my heart swell up in the good kind of terror that confirms to you what you should be doing. It started a weird sort of domino effect, which basically lead me through a lot of Google searching and crying, which then led me to a lot of apathy, which then somehow led me here.
How did you decide to go to Spain?

I actually thought I'd end up in Central or South America. I'm just really drawn to those cultures, lifestyles, and I think that's due, in varying degrees, to the Guatemala trip, high school Spanish class, and my love for simple living. And perhaps for handwoven items.

When I started researching MK schools, ECA kept appearing. It was the only school I contacted that consistently had an opening for an English teacher, and all the people I communicated with were so helpful and had only good to say about the school. The more I looked at it, the more it just seemed like a good fit.  There wasn't any divine neon sign that appeared on Google or anything, but that's not usually how God seems to work with me. I think he gives us brains and hearts and desires that point toward what we should be do, and if we let those things work in accordance, he'll use them to get us where we need to be.

Why did you choose to go with WorldVenture?
I knew some people who knew some people who liked WorldVenture. Out of the three agencies I scoped out, WorldVenture offered the opportunities I was looking for. Also, they were so very helpful and patient while I was dragging my feet through the initial commitment process. I haven't been disappointed so far!

How are you considered a "missionary" when you are working with kids who, mostly, have already heard the gospel?
Short answer: What is a missionary? Often, I think that word brings to mind traditional, career missionaries who primarily do evangelism and discipleship. But--is that not what, in some fashion, every follower of Christ is supposed to be doing anyway? Aren't we all made to share God's love and truth with others? If the answer is yes, then I think we're supposed to do that wherever God wants us to do it--whether it's on our farm or in our doctor's office or in a foreign country. And I'm not just talking about handing out gospel tracts. I mean that "ministry" isn't a category of life, an action that we do. Ministry can be a specific role, but it also encompasses the way we live, the way we treat others, the things we say: ministry is life. Maybe the term "missionary" needs to be redefined, but if you don't like it (and I don't always), then call me a teacher. That defines my exact job, and I know that missions, teaching, life--it's all part of the same.

So, yes, my ministry is primarily to kids whose parents are missionaries. Christian kids still need to be discipled and encouraged. Heck, I need it! Who doesn't? Many of my students, and my neighbors, and my acquaintances don't know Christ--so maybe God's going to put me in a place where they might see how He looks. Also, for parents working abroad, it's helpful to know that their kids are getting a good education. (Educational problems are a prime factor for families leaving the field--or for getting them to come in the first place.)

I love kids and teenagers; I feel like I was designed to work with them, and for some reason, God has shown me how I can do that in Spain. I don't know why there instead of Nicaragua or Nigeria or the "typical" third-world countries we like to associate with missions work. But Europe needs Christ just as much as America does, or China, or Madagascar; there's not a place on the planet you can travel without seeing the need for redemption. My place just happens to be Spain. But until I get there, it's North Dakota. And when I leave there, maybe it'll be some podunk town with three gravel roads. Doesn't matter. Wherever I go, wherever you go, that is your ministry. That is your mission.

Can you speak Spanish?
A little, and not all that well, but I hear good things about total immersion.

Do you want to get married in Spain?
I'll add it to my list, right under "running with the bulls."

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