19 September, 2014

The joy of working from a position of strength

Missionaries often work from a place of weakness.

In our host country it is because we don't know the culture, our language isn't strong, and we're foreigners. We're often battling fatigue because life in another culture with the above mentioned barriers is harder work than living in your home country.

In our "home" country it is because we're often visitors, living in other people's homes or visiting a church, group, or city for a brief period. We're also often transitioning in and out of the country, which puts us in a vulnerable, weak position.
This was one of the weakest days of our lives
as missionaries. The day we first left the country.
I'm smiling, but there were lots of tears too.
The pain of parting from loved ones lasted many years
after the photo.

As a mum with three boys I also find that my family, in the midst of all of the above, takes up much of the energy that I've got available. Even sometimes more than I have in the "bank" for my own health.

When we're working from a place of weakness it is hard to find enough traction to help others. It's like standing on a balance ball, while trying to pour a cup of coffee for someone. It is close to impossible.

The twist here is that not only do we find it hard, at times, to find a position of strength to work from, we often see people at a distance we want to help. I wrote about it back in January 2011 when our home state was suffering floods (here). It hurts being in Japan and seeing people we love in Australia needing assistance, but not being able to do anything physical about it.

So it's a joy to be in Australia for a year, with enough time to move into a place where we're not so restricted and more able to help others. I think that is one of the benefits of taking a longer home assignment: being able to give more of ourselves to supporters, supporting churches, friends, and family. Getting off that balance board for a while is a good thing.

In the last month we've been able to visit a relative who had a serious health scare. I've also been able to cook a meal for a family who's supported us in our transition to Australia. A family that needed a hand because the mum was unwell.

Both of these things I've wanted to do many times for people in Australia when I've been in Japan. And similarly the other way. It was a joy to be able to actually physically help.

We've learned a lot from being weak and dependent on others. But these little opportunities to physically help people bring us so much joy.

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