Cathy's Corner - Rest on the mission field

Russ asked me to write something for the blog. After all there’s a “Cathy’s Corner” that’s been sitting rather empty. At first I sort of dreaded it.  I mean a picture of a meal I’ve made or flowers that grow in my yard on facebook is one thing.  But writing is so personal and really opens a window onto one’s life. At first I thought I’ll just do the “here’s how the kids are doing, here’s what my ministries look like...” blog entry.  But you see how our kids are doing if you have us on Facebook.  They’re doing great! And in the past I’ve told you about my ministries to women and children and how they aren’t too dissimilar to what you may be doing...just add in some different accents and food that might be unfamiliar to Americans.  So what would I write about then... today I got some inspiration.

When was your last family holiday or vacation as you’d say in the US? Did you go to the mountains of Colorado? Maybe one of our past family favourites: Silver Dollar City in Missouri? The beach? Or maybe a big splurge: Disney World? Do you ever wonder if missionaries have a holiday? If so, when? Where? Is furlough a holiday? I remember back to the training we had just before leaving for the field. We were told that vacations were meant to be taken in our field country and furlough (which I think used to be for rest and recuperation) is for getting in touch with supporting churches and supporters and letting them know what our ministry is doing.  Furlough is work.  Plain and simple.

And then, we live and minister in a country that looks like we’re on perma-holiday.  I mean its beautiful.  The weather is almost always perfect. Compared to some other missionaries, our life looks like a holiday.  But ministry can be 24/7. And living on a ministry budget means the cost of a holiday can be hard to scrape together.  Right now its school holidays here in Australia.  It would’ve been lovely to escape to a holiday by the beach or some other restful place.  But when that’s not possible, what do you do? Russ was able to schedule in a “long weekend” away from the city ministry.  He put an “I am out of the office” message on his email.  And with some penny pinching we have been able to do some fun things with the kids. The answer: a holiday at home! We’ve gone to the movies on discount tickets, had a nice date night, gone to a major professional sports game and sat in the cheap seats, and just this morning, had a big breakfast together as a family, read the Saturday morning paper in a slow and leisurely manner, and plan on a walk later.  Also in this “holiday at home” we included a perennial family favourite: a train ride into the city and lunch in Chinatown. Ministry doesn’t take a holiday though.  I’m still taking morning tea to church on Sunday morning and Russ is still in charge of leading the devotional at prayer meeting on Sunday afternoon.  I wish he could change his body clock to “vacation mode” but he can’t. He’s still up at 5:30 every morning.

Why am I sharing this? To make you feel guilty about your family vacation time? Not at all.  But instead of the usual missionary update, I thought I’d share another perspective on being a missionary.  If it causes you to think of us, pray for us, give generously to missionary families, great! But also, if it causes you to think outside the American box, of how others do life in ministry in other places, that’s really good too.

I read a good quote by Charles Spurgeon the other day: “Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength...It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” We are headed into summer here in the Souther Hemisphere. That will mean we can go to the beach on the occasional Saturday or Sunday after church.

Pray that we “gather fresh strength” on this “holiday at home” and on such occasions.

Thanks for your prayers and reading a bit from Cathy's Corner,