Q When did you first know God was calling you to the mission’s field?
God didn’t come right out and write it on the wall, though that probably would have been a lot easier. J But seriously . . . Some missionaries (the Rundus family) visiting my church mentioned the need for teachers for missionary kids and really just planted a seed. It was a slow process during which God nudged me that direction, slowing giving me the conviction to ask one more question, write an email, etc. Those missionaries had visited my church in October, and by the next spring those tiny steps had brought me to a point where I knew God was in the process of sending me to Cameroon. I had been appointed as a missionary to Rain Forest International School in Cameroon!
Q How long have you been serving as a missionary? As a NAB missionary?
I arrived in Cameroon in the summer of 2010.
Q What life experiences did you have that helped you prepare to go overseas?
In many ways, the school I taught in before coming here was great preparation. To fully understand how ironic that is, you need to realize I was teaching in a really unique school district before. However, some of the things that make that school so unique, for example student transience and the absence of parents who were deployed for military operations around the world, carry many of the same challenges that I have discovered when working with missionary kids. Likewise, I had grown tremendously as a teacher during my years there.
Q How would you describe your first year on the mission field?
Hmmmm. . . . that is a hard one. At the time I wouldn’t have said I was stressed out or that it was really that difficult. Most of my stress wasn’t much different than what teachers face when moving between different school districts and communities. However, when I have looked back at that year, my biggest frustrations revolved around language (I didn’t speak French, which is the language most common in the country where I live), and living arrangements. Though I had a great roommate, I had lived alone and owned my home for many years back in the US, so simply having someone else around all the time and sharing space was a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like people, but there came a point when I just couldn’t handle being around other people ALL the time.
Q What changes have you seen in yourself (what ways have you grown) since you have been serving overseas?
I am much more aware of my need for alone time, and the necessity of getting away from the daily routine sometimes. In that regard I have become much more of an introvert!
I would love to say I have grown into a great Christian who faithfully does her devotions every day and spends tons of time in the Word and in prayer, but quite honestly the mission field tends to magnify whatever struggles you had before. I struggle with consistence in this department just as much (or maybe even more at times) than I did before I came to Cameroon.
Q What is something that would surprise others about mission work or the people you are called to serve?
We are a mess! It is almost funny how so many people put missionaries on a pedestal of some sort. Most people don’t realize they are doing it, but in general just the fact that we ‘went’ is enough to make a lot of people go ‘wow!’ But living in community is tough, and living in a community of missionaries isn’t necessarily any easier. Illusions get pretty quickly shattered when personalities clash, and everyone is totally convinced that they are in the right because this is what God has called them to do. He may have called all of us here and we may all have the kingdom’s advancement as a priority, but we are all still fallen, sinful human beings. . . and sometimes it is easier to forgive and extend grace to people outside of the church than it is to do so to those IN the church who we like think should ‘know better.’