Wednesday, February 20

Missionary perks

Many of our supporters back in the United States often feel sorry for missionaries living overseas and "suffering for Jesus." But the truth is, we are better off than most think. Folks back home simply aren't aware of the many personal privileges and perks we enjoy in our host countries. When I say we are truly blessed, I mean that! Here is a sample of just a few of the many perks we enjoy as missionaries:

-Getting our own glass to drink out of at social occasions and not having to share with someone else.

-Being given the seat right in front of the only floor fan in a closed room where 30 perspiring people are crammed together in equatorial heat and humidity. (If you don't think this is an honor and privilege, just try sitting somewhere else in the room and not pass out!)

-Not only having running water inside our house, but HOT water too! (No outhouses for us!)

-Being asked to sing, preach, teach, baptize, speak, dedicate babies, marry, or give the devotional at any church gathering that takes place. (If you're a missionary, you know what I am talking about. Not even Billy Graham gets asked to do all that we are honored to do!)

-Being invited to everyone's birthday party, anniversary, or wedding. (They know at least the missionary will bring a nice gift.)

-Having a phone that actually works (most of the time.)

-Having a wireless cell phone with a balance. (That way everyone who needs to make a call can borrow ours and we save them money. We call it our "phone ministry!")

-Always the one invited to go places. (They know the missionary has a car and will provide the transportation for all the other 15 people also wanting to go.)

-Double portions of rice, chicken and plantains at any social occasion. (They reason we must eat twice as much to be as big as we are!)

-A nice siesta every day after lunch. (How do people in the States manage to go all day long without a nap?)

-Fruit vendors, knife sharpeners, plumbers, sewer cleaners, professional con artists, street sweepers, bottle collectors, repairmen, newspaper collectors, beggars, Jehovah Witnesses, gardeners, electricians, and salesmen, ringing your door bell 20 times a day to see if you need their services or can give them anything. (While sometimes annoying--especially during afternoon siesta--it is generally a nice perk when you actually do need their services!)

-Always being complimented on how fat we are getting, or how much weight we have gained over the past month. (It truly is a cultural compliment meaning we are "well fed", "healthy" and can afford to eat like we do.)

-The honor of receiving calls every week from people asking for help in translating an English letter, recipe, their kid's homework, legal documents, etc. (How many times have I heard, "oh, it will just take a minute, you don't mind do you?")

-Being stared at every time we set foot outside the house like we were some movie star (especially since our only actual claim to fame is being from Texas.)

-Being able to go to the Pharmacy and buy whatever medications you need without a prescription. (Just go down to the corner drugstore 24/7 and get what you need--none of that $90 doctor fee to tell you what you already know!)

-Being the first person people think of when they are in an economic crisis and need a loan.

-Oh yes, having a maid to cook, clean, and wash everyday. (How do people manage without one?)

-Someone to do all your yard work for less than your kids allowance.

And finally, my favorite perk...

-Garbage picked up seven days/week, 365 days/year without anyone questioning what it is you are throwing away. This is probably my favorite missionary perk, and the one I most appreciate getting back to after every Stateside furlough. (Our last furlough (no joke) NOT ONCE was our garbage picked up by the trash collectors due to our never figuring out how to do it right. I was totally overwhelmed by the Ft. Worth "garbage manual" explaining all the rules and regulations about what kinds of trash will be picked up, on what days, in what type of containers, etc.)

And people wonder what missionaries do with all their time. Well, as you can see, managing all our perks can take up quite a bit of our daily time!

Care to add some of the perks that come with your career-job-ministry? Just add them to the comments section!

17 comments:

Rick said...

Man! You're making me miss the "good life!" ;-)

When we lived in West Africa, we had a woman come by our house about once every two weeks with fresh shrimp. It worked out to about a dollar a pound and she peeled them for us!

Let me tell you something, this living without a maid is for the birds! I didn't know we had to take out the trash so often and my goodness, we go through a lot of dishes!

One perk of living in American, however, is that I haven't heard machine gun fire or bombs in a very long time! PTL!

Cahleen 何凱琳 said...

I can really relate to what you're saying! I actually used to feel kind of guilty because I wasn't suffering more for God over here. We also enjoy the benefits of the cool vendors for everything, an inexpensive maid, being stared at like movie stars (although that can get kind of annoying), easy, and cheap access to prescriptions meds without a prescription. Also, whenever we need any sort of help, so many people bend over backwards to help us (Taiwanese people are super friendly and hospitable to anyone in the "guest" category). The main difference between our situation and yours is the garbage. The trash is so weird and complicated in Taipei City, but our building has a trash service so we're okay.

John Lunt said...

Well I'm not a missionary, but I did have one point of identification -

"Having a wireless cell phone with a balance. (That way everyone who needs to make a call can borrow ours and we save them money. We call it our "phone ministry!")"

It seems almost every time we're having street church in dallas, someone wants to use my phone.

Somehow we don't get the other perks. I certainly don't get complimented because of my weight... lol

GuyMuse said...

Rick, Cahleen and John,

Glad each of you stopped by with your own perk stories.

Rick,

It's hard going to the States and having to do your own lawn, take out the trash, wash dishes everyday, etc. but the REALLY hard part is not being able to complain about it in front of anybody else! And yes, it is a welcome relief to live in America where we don't have to use six keys to get into the house through three metal doors and one wooden bolted door, with bars on all the windows.

Cahleen,

I truly feel for anyone who has to contend with the complicated garbage collection regulations. I know these kinds of things are necessary in today's world, but it is nice to not have to worry about what we throw away. Almost every day people will go through our garbage bags and take what they can use. If you leave anything out on the sidewalk, 15 minutes later it is gone. Seems our "junk" is someone else's "treasure".

John,

Some of the "perks" were stated with my eyes rolling. After 30+ years living here, there are some things we just seem never to be able to adjust to and accept (eg. the part about constantly being "complemented" on our weight!)

So you work in inner-city Dallas? I'd like to hear more about your ministry sometime. Do you blog?

Frank (or Chip) said...

I think you have really covered it pretty well. On transportation: Your pick up can double as an ambulance and if you do not drive fast enough, a hearse.

What a gift to our children: Who else of their generation can say, ¨I remember having to get water out of the river or when I was a child, all we had to do for fun was watch the drunks being thrown into the police car.¨

How about mystery foods. Anybody can go to a food court and pay big money to try new foods. We eat things that even years later, we have no idea what they were.

GuyMuse said...

Frank,

Your pick up can double as an ambulance and if you do not drive fast enough, a hearse.

I've done the ambulance bit, but thankfully never been called on as a hearse. :)

when I was a child, all we had to do for fun was watch the drunks being thrown into the police car.¨

I remember as a child growing up in Ecuador, my dad used to take us kids down to the slaughter house to watch the cows slaughtered. As the blood would gush out, little kids would fight to fill their cups with the warm blood and drink it right there on the spot. That was Friday night entertainment for the Muse kids!

Strider said...

Whoa!! Guy you are on a completely different continent than me and yet I could have written almost all of those. Amazing.

John Lunt said...

Guy, I figured there was some eye rolling as you wrote it.

Yea, we have a simple church with the Homeless in Dallas. My blog address is:

http://dallasstreetstories.blogspot.com/

I can't quite call it a house church, since we don't have a house to use. But we have a good time.

GuyMuse said...

Strider,

Thanks for stopping by. Did you ever calm down enough to deal with the water bill situation? :)

I couldn't help but smile when I read your post. This too is so typical of things here as well. In October I had a $90 water bill due to a problem, but decided to just pay the amount rather than fight it. Many years ago, an older missionary told me "you have to choose your battles here; you can't fight them all or you'll go nuts!" He was soooo right.


John,

I enjoyed reading through several of your blog posts about the ministry there on the streets of Dallas. In your last post about the 4-million dollar mansion of the Christian leader, I dare say this guy's "perks" are a little more than even the lavish ones we share above! :)

Is this the same COAH ministry that Travis and Beth are associated with? If so, you guys send us $50/month to help our national missionary we sent to Peru. Thanks!

S.A.M. said...

Guy, I agree with Strider. Our perks are about the same, even though we are half a world away. The perk we like the most is buying fresh vegetables. I can buy 10 pounds of veggies, fresher than anywhere I have ever lived for around 2 dollars. Cool! For all the perks, we are hit with a good bit of spiritual darkness and warfare, but this is an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. I don't think that we could do anything else!

John said...

Yea, Guy - same COAH as Travis and Beth. They're good friends of mine.

We're hoping to get to see you when you get back stateside.

GuyMuse said...

SAM,

For all the perks, we are hit with a good bit of spiritual darkness and warfare... Yeah, we too have our share as well, but that is the topic of another post! Speaking of vegetables and fruits, Ecuador is supposed to have the greatest variety of both anywhere in the world. There are many different fruits here that I don't know what they are.

John,

How interesting! Yes, we are planning a short 2-month trip to the States this summer. Hopefully our paths will cross and we'll get to meet you and all the gang there.

Carol L. said...

I absolutely love this post!

Deborah said...

Fresh bread.... They make the best bread and everyday you can go to the little store and pick it up.
(Day old rolls make great pizza.)

Fresh flowers...they are cheap here and plentiful. We get lovely tulips of every color.

Fresh vegetables & fruit...we get a nice variety and even though prices have risen the last few years it's still cheaper here than in the States.

Snow....the kids love it, I could live without it. (we're from Texas too) But it can be beautiful if you're outside the city.

The best perk of all....seeing someone come to know Jesus in a very personal way!

GuyMuse said...

Carol,

Thanks! It was fun to write.

Deborah,

Yes, without a doubt the best perk of all is seeing lives changed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I clicked on your two blogs and enjoyed looking around to see what was going on there in Poland. Sounds like you guys homeschool as well. You might enjoy my wife's homeschooling blog A Foreign Life.

Sandy 何聖欣 said...

Hi: I linked to your post from my blog yesterday. Here are some perks I came up with similar to my friend Cahleen who is from the north, and we are in south:

As for being in Taiwan,
Maybe the biggest one pertaining to sharing the faith, is that the people are a clean slate, with few pre-conceived notions of God or church.

* I can hang laundry on a clothes-line all year-round.
* People bring us fruit often. ... and fruit is found here year-round... even my favorite, watermelon.
* Milk tea, fresh fruit drinks, green tea for 30 cents (10 nt), and crushed ice with mango.
* We live 2 hours away from a beautiful beach.
* There are hot springs all over the island.
* Local people think white legs are attractive, unlike in US.
* If police officers are having a helmet check, they flag the foreigners by.
* Plants grow anywhere, anyhow.
* People invite us over for tea, and then send extra tea in bag home with us!
* Weekend excursions are unique cultural experiences.
* Actually, everyday includes a unique cultural experience.
and the biggest change
* 50 degrees Fahrenheit seems FRIGIDLY COLD!!! (10 degrees C)

GuyMuse said...

Sandy,

Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your list of perks with us. I would love to visit your part of the world someday. For those of us living in the tropics year around, 50F is indeed frigid!