cross cultural and international internet dating?

LOL, I had a serious marriage proposal last week.  It is common to have proposals, but they are usually in passing. This one was thought out and involved church leaders.  Yet it was so “wrong”. He was from a culture I know a bit of, but not much. I am from a culture he knows nothing of.  So there were several taboos in the first couple minutes of the conversation.  Like rather than just introducing yourself and getting to know someone. After telling me his name, he said He wanted to marry me!  Whoa!!  I had never met him before and he had seen me for like 10 minutes during which I translated for someone for 3 of those minutes. I was gracious and let him down nicely—I hope.  We’ll see if I continue getting phone calls.  How awkward.

Sadly this guy and many of the nationals I work with have no clue what I mean when I say there are too many cultural differences.

We had a good laugh about it, but then someone said, “You should really go home so that you can get married.”  I was taken back for a bit and then brushed off that phrase from a fellow expat.  But it stuck with me.  I wanted to lash out and say, “So I should put marriage ahead of God in my life?”  But I dropped it.

C360_2014-02-08-16-36-36-10585% of single missionaries are women. Most of us are “doomed” to stay old maids until we die. But yet we have chosen to serve and that is a blessing. We can serve with our entire self and time because we don’t have a family to care for.  Scripture talks about this.  Yet I know people who won’t come to the field because the want to be married. So, they sit in the US and wait….

Ironically I just learned about a new website — internet dating for missionaries only!  That’s scary. Cool, but scary.  you can check it out if you’d like — Called together.  How many of us will actually sign up?  Are we really that desperate?  Will some who are in the US just waiting take the bait?

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Friendships

The older I get the less I put into friendships.  I want deeper friendships, but after so many “Hellos” and “Good-byes” it is hard.  It is hard to invest in something temporary.  A huge part of me says, “Don’t even waste your time.”

I have national friends, but that can only get so deep because our customs and backgrounds are so different.  The only single women in this culture are young and still in school, or women with a “reputation”. 

I have friends from my home country, but we see each other so rarely.  When I do get back for furlough, my home base is not where any of my old friends live.  I make a point to visit them each time I’m home but a few days is hard on friendships.  There are a couple who do try. But between visits we are limited to e-mails. I live in such a remote area that even Skype doesn’t work.  They have never been overseas and there is that certain aspect of my life which they cannot understand. 

Where home base is now, I rarely stay. I am on the road so often that I haven’t made many connections.  The nature of my job is to work on Sundays.  I get to take part in church group rarely because I am travelling to speak in other churches when they meet.  Sometimes I fear that they don’t want to get too close either because I will just leave them for Africa. 

I have missionary friends.  Some are not on the field anymore and definitely understand me more than many, but they are always the ones that are too busy to e-mail.  Some of them just aren’t the type to communicate much. When we do see each other we pick up and enjoy great fellowship, but in the meantime I can only find comfort in that fact that they are praying for me.

Those that are on the field are co-workers. I can only get so close. We are like family as well as co-workers. Those relationships come with their own responsibilities.  I greatly respect them all and thank God for them, but they aren’t my close friends.

I have found that God is my greatest comfort.  He always has been. I know that and will never doubt it.  But there are times when I want a real life friendship.  I want to be content and most days I am.  But there are days when I want a friend.  All missionaries struggle with this. I know married women are lonely as well. Personally, I think that single missionaries have it a little worse because they don’t even have their spouse to confide in. 

harmony cross 1When you read books about being single they often talk about involving yourself in small groups, and events for fellowship, your church.  When you are on the mission field all those things are not options. Maybe more so in a third world culture that is so different from my home culture because of varying differences in education.  

It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Several times I have asked friends to be my accountability partners.  Each time they agreed and then after one or two e-mails it ends.  We are still friends, but they don’t have time to keep in touch.  After so many trials and errors, I fear asking yet another person to be a spiritual accountability person.