14 December, 2013

Are you paid to do that?

My 8 y.o. asked me this the other day about my editing work. My first response was, "No."

But when I stopped for a second and thought about it I changed my answer to, "In a way, yes."

It was similar to an awkward question that a visitor from Australia asked recently. He asked, "Wendy, do you have a job...um, I mean, do you work outside the house, um, I mean not to say that being a stay at home mum..." 

Well, I put him out of his agony and said that I do indeed, "have a job that is beyond taking care of my family, but for the most part I do it from 'inside my home'. 

Other things intervened here and I wasn't able to give a more extended answer, however if I could, I would have explained that it is not a "paid job" as in no one from JEMA pays me to edit the magazine. No one from OMF pays me to head up the 31 Days of Prayer for Japan, project.

Being a missionary is a strange career when you compare it to most people's work. We're basically professional volunteers. We aren't living off our savings or an inheritance. But we aren't paid by an employer either, instead our needs are supplied by people and groups who choose to be a part of our story. Those people don't require us to submit time sheets,
This was taken at the very start of this overseas
adventure in 2000. Don't we look young!
or produce a tangible result for their contributions.

Our mission leaders do hold us to certain standards, standards that include pretty personal reviews (see here). They "pay" us, as in they handle the money that is given to support us and they put it into our bank account. The organisation is pretty useful financially-wise, actually. Most of that money is given in Aussie dollars, but we're paid in Japanese yen. Because our organisation is international, I believe we save a lot of money in international bank transfers (but don't ask me to explain that!)

The other big expectation of our mission is that we report back to our supporters. Not with a time card, or a written report, or a financial returns statement, but in person. That is what our home assignment is partly for: to reconnect with all those people who choose to "pay" us for what we do.

Of course the explanation here gets tricky. About half of our "support" comes from David's job as a teacher. A regular job where he has regular hours and regular employer's expectations upon him. That money gets paid to OMF and not directly to us, however.

So, anything I do as a missionary is on the one hand as a "volunteer" but on the other hand it is "paid". It's a tricky question! I don't get paid by the hour for the editing work I do, nor do I have a contract. But I wouldn't be able to do it except for the people who give so that we can be here (otherwise I'd have to have a job with an employer who did expect me to fill out time cards).

Such a great job to have! I really wouldn't like to exchange it for a regular job.

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