Tuesday Topic: Surprising Comments and Questions

From Liz: How do you graciously handle surprising comments and questions about being a missionary?  For instance, I’ve had several people ask me if we are taking our preschoolers with us!  We also get a lot of advice about the “right” way to go about being a foreign missionary, often times offered without experience to support these opinions.  I am having a hard time keeping perspective!  Help a sista out!

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


7 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: Surprising Comments and Questions”

  1. 1 Shilo November 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    For real? Do you take your kids with you? Ha ha. Well, I’m sure it doesn’t feel funny to you though after awhile!
    I’d say unless they have some overseas experience, just validate that you appreciate their concern or interest and leave it at that. 🙂

  2. 2 Kim W. November 3, 2010 at 4:07 am

    I just about died laughing about if you were going to take your kids with you! Thanks 🙂

  3. 3 richelle November 3, 2010 at 5:23 am

    we get that question sometimes, too… still… and we’ve been here more than 10 years. i even had a nurse at the cdc ask me if my children wouldn’t be better just staying with family in the states.

    i think people ask because most “famous” people who do charity/service type work travel for short time periods and do so without their family – what we do is as foreign for many to think about as picking up and moving to africa (or any such place)themselves is. depending on if i think they really want to know, i just try and share a few little things about daily life that make our lives seem normal – real.

    with the advice type questions, i have learned from the example of my husband. he always genuinely thanks people for their advice, for caring enough to offer some advice… then files it away in his head to think about later if there is some nugget of good in there or discards it if it is just silliness. guess if God can talk to his people via the mouth of a donkey, he can certainly sometimes use what seems to me to be “uninformed” advice.

    i try and make sure that those who seem genuinely interested know what they can do to follow our family (i.e. our blog, website, what church is sending us, our email address…) and then leave room for real and honest dialogue to possibly begin. perspective wise – i think i try (again) to recognize this reality: what we do is an incomprehensible thought to many, and ignorant-to-me-sounding-questions/advice are often ways people indicate that they are interested or that maybe God is speaking to them about the same possiblity, so i try to answer/respond gently, truthfully and graciously. after all, i always tell my kids (and my students): “there is no such thing as an genuine AND stupid question,” for questions are what begins dialogue… often what first shows that someone has begun thinking… and i’m always delighted to dialogue with someone if it allows me to share, even just a tiny bit, more about my God.

  4. 4 Liz K November 4, 2010 at 3:53 am

    thanks ladies! I really appreciate it! I have been feeling the loneliness of this road more and more lately. So great that we can “be together” here! Thanks!

  5. 5 Val November 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Oh, girls. I smiled and winced when I read this question. Over the last seven years, as we’ve lived overseas (and DH has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times) I have fielded many questions that made my stomach turn. And made my indignant pride kick in.

    “How often does he get to come home? Why do you stay overseas when he deploys from there–why not live with your family in the US? Isn’t it hard on your kids? Why don’t you just leave the Army? Has he shot anyone?”

    I appreciate Richelle’s determination to “speak truthfully and gracefully,” because that is a challenge for me. God is certainly moving me gently, firmly into a new “place” of owning my family’s story and extending grace to folks who pose questions/give advice.

    “Hmm, that’s interesting” is something to say when you don’t want to say anything else.

    Several years ago, another military wife gave me a good word. It applies to each of us as we seek to live out our callings.

    “Whatever God calls you and your husband to do, He also calls and equips your kids to do, too.” I’ve incorporated this into many a conversation since then.

    It’s wonderful to read the words of missionary moms on this blog, and feel like there is true community/honesty/equipping going on here. Happy to have found you.

    Love, Val

  6. 6 Ellie November 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I think, though, the oddest question I got asked was when my husband was headed out for a six week trip away from the family, and one lady in a church asked me, “Six weeks?! How do you manage without s*x for that long?!”

    Um…. um…

    Didn’t think my marriage vows allowed any other alternative than “managing without”!


    I was at a total loss for words, and then just said, “Well, yeah, I just do.”

  7. 7 Val November 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    WOW, Ellie.Just. . . wow. Wonder if your “friend” knows the lady who recently told me “I’d never want to do what you do.” Um, thanks? OK? Have you heard this before? Girls, what is the appropriate response??

    Moments like these remind me that I need to ask myself if the words I say have value, or if I sometimes speak (or write!) to please myself, and not to build someone else up. (-: The answer is humbling. Thankful for the laughs this thread has provided AND the conviction. (-;

    It took me YEARS to realize that God equips me to do what He calls ME to do. Not what someone else is called to do.


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