The weekend flew by in a whirlwind of beauty and delight, and now I find myself alone and quiet once more. The Three Rivers Festival downtown gave us plenty to do, from viewing the Chalk Walk to smelling the flowers in the Botanical Conservatory, to eating all sorts of wonderfully greasy and sugary foods in Food Alley, to listening to a Jars of Clay concert from across the street under a nice shade tree.
We even managed to give ourselves a tour of an empty, grand cathedral, go swimming, and eat at my now all-time favorite Fort Wayne restaurant, Granite City. While we waited for our food, Laura and I started a game of "You know you're a missionary when..." which ended with things like:
- when the thought of eating an American cheeseburger thrills your soul
- when the reality that your refugee housemates don't use soap to clean their dishes doesn't phase you anymore
- when your rice cooker is ALWAYS filled with rice
- when you get giddy when your out-of-town friends come to visit so you have someone to speak to in full, complex, English sentences
- when your greatest self-concern in prayer is if you should focus on serving one people group or be an "all nations" advocate.
It was fun to have Laura talk as though I'm a "real" missionary... I still consider myself a "Padawan" - a missionary-in-training. But the more I'm here, the more comfortable I am with the position. It feels quite natural, and I think that is how it is supposed to feel. What is a missionary, anyway, except someone who actually tries to follow through on what Jesus called us all to do in the first place? "Go and make disciples of all nations..." "Go, sell everything you have and follow me..." "Let your light so shine before men..."
Yesterday at church, the youth pastor and his family announced that they had been in youth ministry for a while, and now "God is calling us to full-time missions." Now, because I grew up in church I know that when he said "full-time missions," he meant a support-based overseas gig, but this time, it just sounded weird to me. (You know you are a missionary when the churchy jargon becomes more strange and less comprehensible to you.) I was in youth ministry for two years, and I only had about 15 kids, but it sure felt like full-time missions to me! It made me a little sad to think that he didn't view that as a full-time mission, in the strange and exotic - and yes, even dangerous - world of teenagers.
And now that this man and his family are moving to Mexico to serve, I don't think that makes him a better or more significant or more full-time missionary than he already was... any more than my going back to Winston-Salem to teach Sunday school and ESL, mentor some teen girls, and drink coffee with the people in my community will make me less significant as a missionary. My goal will be the same as it is here: to build authentic, trusting relationships through the love of Christ in order for others to come to know him and grow in their relationship with him.
You know you're a missionary when you realize that your mission field is wherever you are.