Did you know that a missionary wears many hats? Everyone does in a way, but as a missionary it shows up a bit different. I remember recently talking to a college student who wanted to pursue missions. They were surprised to hear of all the little jobs you need to do on the field. Most people think we are moms/dads, spouses, as well as evangelists/teachers/translators/doctors…
1. Yes, you are a parent and spouse in a totally different culture than you grew up in, away from your extended family for years.
2. Yes, you are a ___________ whatever your title on the field is. A teacher, doctor, pastor, church-planter, evangelist, translator, trainer, etc..
3. You are also an accountant. We must keep track of our spending and send in reports to our mission agencies. We also track finances that we supply to the ministries that we are involved in, which often means working with nationals who are not so financially savvy! Oh yeah, this is also done in another currency which needs to be converted at the daily exchange rates to keep the books within cents of balanced. Sometimes the line items are in a couple different languages too.
4. You are a secretary. You need to record all the correspondence received and track all financial donations to your ministry. You also try to thank them frequently for their support (in your spare time).
5. Reporter. There are regular mailings sent out about your ministry as well as updating the blog, facebook, and website about your current events, ministries, projects, and stories. These are important in today’s world of instant access on the internet. Unfortunately many of us live in areas of limited or no internet access and it can take hours or days to send updates or financial reports.
6. Field position. We also have meetings among our team members and often take the role of treasurer or secretary of our field.
7. Host. Many of us have visitors or other team members from remote areas visiting us while they buy supplies. We host teams of people as they come to visit or do short term trips.
8. Travel agent. If a team comes to visit we are contacting airlines, hotels, taxis, guest houses, guides, etc.… We also calculate the budget for all of these teams (hoping the exchange rate changes in our favor by the time they arrive).
9. Aunt/Uncle/Grandma/Grandpa: We become a family to the other team members we work with. The kids will call me “aunt _____”. Not only are we co-workers, we are family, and friends.
10. Boss: Many of us live in cultures where having help in our homes is the norm. In fact we are thankful for that help who enable us to focus on our ministries. In a world where nothing is prepackaged and we cook in wood stoves, it takes a lot longer just to live. We can spend 2 days doing laundry by hand or help a local mom out with a little extra income and have time to homeschool our kids.
11. Teacher. Most of the moms on the field end up homeschooling their kids for at least part of their education.
12. Medical “expert”. Thank God for the book, “Where There is No Doctor.” Living far away from medical help. We must help each other determine what to do in medical situations. Local facilities often are not helpful. Phone calls to medical friends help a lot, but we do need to know basics on wound care and vaccinations.
13. Agent: We often spend hours and hours over several days working on basic things like visas, permits, licenses, banking, and registrations. That doesn’t include clearing containers and vehicles, paying customs on packages and materials shipped over.
14. Plumber/electrician/mechanic… Before heading to Africa I had little knowledge of these areas. But necessity has helped me learn. There are no plumbers for miles. There are not any electricians nearby.
15. Tech guru. Yes, we need to know how to fix basic computer issues. How to connect systems, how to create networks, and how to find lost files. We need to understand many terms the average person has no clue about. We look for supplies that only professionals use.
Oh, the list can go on and on. It takes time to do our ministry but it also takes time to do all the other things that we need to do in our lives as well.