January 9, 2008

Missionary kids taking a ride at the zoo behind the resort.
Missionary kids taking a ride through the animal preserve at the resort.

A roadside furniture factory

A rural furniture factory with its products displayed by the side of the road.

With the single missionaries-Dana, Katie, Elliot and Greg
With the single missionaries of the SAM Bolivia field.
L-R Dana Wilson, Katie Wells, Marlene Pritchard, Ray Pritchard, Elliott Tait, Greg Dahl

This part of Bolivia is hot, sultry, and very beautiful. We have had some wonderful worship times and excellent sharing with the missionaries. This afternoon Marlene spoke to the women. I am doing a series of six messages from Ecclesiastes called “Chasing the Wind: Solid Faith in a Shaky World.”

Today during the business session after my morning message, the missionaries talked about of the frustrations they feel. From our perspective in the United States, we tend to treat missionaries as if they were “super Christians” who never struggle at all. But because missionaries are people too, they struggle with the same things we struggle with, plus they have the added burden of living far from home, in a foreign culture, where they are all trying to do many projects at once without some of the resources we take for granted. One missionary commented that on the field everything takes longer. Little errands or jobs that would take an hour at home may take a whole day. Or two or three days. Communication and clear vision and teamwork become even more essential. You have to learn to depend on each other and to work together and to find the right mix of work, rest, family time, time with the Lord, and time spent just having fun. And because we live in an “Ecclesiastes world” where nothing works right, it’s easy to put unrealistic expectations on yourself and on those around you. And it’s easy to feel disappointed when those expectations are not met. Marlene and I listened with great interest as the missionaries worked through some of these issues today–sometimes with great emotion. In a sense, it is all the “human stuff” that you would hear in any local church but magnified by the pressures of living on the mission field. And I do believe that there is an element of spiritual warfare in all of this that cannot be overlooked.

As your read these words, I would exhort you to pray for your missionaries. The life they lead is not easy. We have come to greatly admire everyone on the field in Bolivia. And having been here, we understand a little better the struggles they face every day.

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