The Stories Missionaries Can’t Tell You – True Love.

This is another lovely story by my Missionary Friend. While I am recovering from my tonsillectomy, she is sharing very real things that happen to missionaries that just don’t fit well in Sunday School slideshows. If you missed her first post, you absolutely must click back and read it – because it’s not every day that you get to read stories about boobs written by a missionary.


A few years before we moved to this far far away place, we organized a summer mission trip for two teens from our church’s youth group. We went to a different far far away place and enjoyed over five weeks of ministry and volunteering at many places. We went to orphanages, schools, slums, and churches – everywhere we could help, we did. Our hosts arranged for several young local young people to accompany us as guides, but also to provide a sort of cross cultural friendship group for the two teens we had with us. There were two young ladies and two young men who took turns joining us on our daily visits.

We had a great time with them as they taught us much about local customs and culture, and in the evenings we taught them games and even foods from our culture.

In this particular far far away place it was commonplace to pay a bride price when marrying, and there were several times during our trip that my hubby and I were offered several cows or sums of money as a bride price for the two teens we had with us. We always responded by saying we couldn’t accept because we were not their parents and they were worth more cows than all of the country had to offer anyway. (Always jokingly of course!)

My hubby had to leave with one of the teens early, so I stayed with the other one for an additional ten days. Toward the end of the trip I started to notice that one of the local young men who was accompanying us was paying her quite a bit of attention – in fact, I was certain I had seen them holding hands and looking rather like a dating couple.

Obviously this was not a great idea as we were leaving in only two days, they barely knew each other, and we were from half a world and a very different culture away! I sat down with the girl and asked what was going on. Did she like him? Had they talked about how that would work seeing as he was from this place and she was from very far away? Had they considered the differences in their culture?

The next day I had a meeting and she was going with the local young people to a kids club. I suggested she plan to talk with him on the way. She agreed and said it was probably best if she told him it wouldn’t work because of the distance and them having very little time to get to know each other.

She came back from the meeting and went straight to her room without talking to me. I was immediately concerned and followed, assuming she was upset after having broken up with him.

Me: “Well what happened? Were you able to talk to him and explain things?”

Her: “Uhm, yeah, sorta I guess.”

Me: “What do you mean? Did you talk to him or no?”

Her: “Well, I did, but he, uhh, he asked…. I mean, he…”

Me: “Oh come on now – it’s not like he proposed, just spit it out already!”

Her: “Uhhh, actually…..”

Me: “HE PROPOSED?! What? You cant be serious! What did he say when you said no?”

Her: “Ummm, well, actually...”

Because you all don’t know me, I will let you know that there have been very, very, very few times in my entire life when I have been speechless. I talk a lot. I love to talk. Perhaps you have gathered that from the long winded-stories I have been telling. I am very rarely without words. But this was one of those times. I must have started and stopped about a dozen sentences:

“You cant be….”

“You didn’t….”

“Please tell me you are jok…”

“What were you thi….”

“I cant breathe…”

“You said what?”

“I don’t feel very goo…”

…and so forth and so on until I managed to finally squeak out as I sank to the bed beside her..

“Your father is going to kill me!”

After some heart-to-heart discussion and counseling, she admitted that she had only said yes because she was terrified and didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and she wasn’t even sure she even wanted to date him much less marry him. We decided it would be best if we go and have a chat with him, together this time. As I explained to this love struck young man that this was not a good idea and I could not, as her guardian for the summer, allow this engagement to stand. Also, since he had not come to speak to me first, or tried to communicate with her family (which would have been the correct way to do things in his culture), I didn’t feel it was proper for them to date at this time, either.

It made for a few awkward days before we flew home, but at least her father didn’t have to greet me at the airport with a shotgun.

In fact, as far as I know, her father still doesn’t know about the fiancé I jilted on his behalf.

So the moral of the story is one that sounds perhaps too typical coming from a missionary, but is actually quite valuable nonetheless:

Just. Say. No.

To drugs, to underage drinking, to random marriage proposals – just say NO to it all. It’s better that way. For all of us.

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The Stories That Missionaries Can’t Tell You.

While I’m recovering from my Tonsillectomy, I asked a dear friend to write a series of guest posts that just need to be shared. I guarantee that you will adore them as much as I do.


My husband and I and our two kids live in a far away place. A far, far, far, far away place. We have no power lines – well, that’s not exactly true, as there are massive multiline hydro towers running straight through our mission base. But all of that electricity is being sold to a neighboring country – there is nothing our local village can use. Up until recently we had to build a fire under a 50 gallon drum to have a hot shower in our home, but thank the Lord we have running water and a flush toilet so I am NOT complaining. We live in a comfortable home on our mission base. Large generators provide power 10 hours a day during the week and 4 hours on weekends.

There are many things about our life here that used to make my jaw drop, but now seem normal to me: the gecko that poops above my head at night (we have a net over our bed so it doesn’t get on me… but still… used to gross me right out!), being woken every morning by our neighbor across the river’s dogs/roosters/screaming baby/fights/cow/laundry whacking/etc., seeing twenty chickens tied to the handlebars of a bicycle and a pig on the back luggage rack with a goat tied to the cross bar – all of them ALIVE and being cycled down the highway, spiders the size of my hand and the hordes of light-seeking bugs that descend on our home after the first rains each year (I swear it feels like a biblical plague). But the sights, smells, and tastes of our host culture that once seemed so strange now feel like home to us – even the digestively regular gecko.

We still have a lot to learn – much more about the culture, the foods, the languages, and many other areas I am sure we have not even thought of yet in our six plus years in the field.

As we have been bumbling along, we have had a few missteps – times where we have misunderstood something, not noticed a cultural cue, or been in a situation where we are the only ones who seem to see the ridiculousness. Sometimes these situations involve topics that don’t exactly lend themselves to being shared on our ministry forums. And yet, they show a side of missionary life that I don’t think many people realize exists. It’s not all praying and teaching and cuddling cute kids – there’s an awful lot of awkward situations that make up our lives here that we just can’t share at church on a Sunday morning.

Topics like boobs, demon casting baptisms, snakes and oh, so much more.

And so, after years of reading Rachel’s blog and emailing with her, she mentioned to me that she would love for me to share some stories with you – anonymously of course, to protect the privacy of some of the individuals mentioned in the stories, which although funny and awkward and crazy, are still about real people in real places and the stories oftentimes have very serious endings. I hope you will enjoy the craziness with us, and take the stories as they are intended – a light-hearted look at the awkward situations we encounter here, not an attempt to ridicule or embarrass anyone. If you think you may know who we are, please help us to keep these posts Google-free by not saying my name or location or any identifying info in any comments you post – Thanks!!! (But please do comment – I love comments!)

So now, for the first in my installment of Missionary Stories…

We see bosoms a tad bit differently around here.

When we first moved to this country, a departing missionary told us that we would notice something straight away – “Back home, boobs are like an amusement park. But here, boobs are a factory – they provide a service and a product and that is it!”

And it’s true – at home, people are either flaunting what they got or enhancing what they got to get the approval or admiration of others, or on the other hand FREAKING OUT when a woman does what is completely natural and breastfeeds her baby in public.

Here, women cover up their boobs as much as possible, unwilling to draw attention to them. UNTIL it’s time to breastfeed, at which time they whip them out as if they were a teething toy or paci that is conveniently attached to their body so it never gets lost.

bosom

No one even bats an eye, except for the poor unsuspecting volunteers visiting that we forget to warn…and trust us – with bras almost nonexistent here and most women having a baby every two years or so from the time they are married (often at 16 or younger), boobs here very quickly lose any attractiveness they might once have possessed. Gravity does its work quickly and more than once we have seen women with their boobs hanging near their waistlines.

Low hanging boobs are actually the norm – there is one woman in our village who had twins and she can breastfeed them BOTH at the same time- one in a wrap on the front, and one in a wrap on her back – let that sink in for a second. She literally flips one boob up and over her shoulder, and the child on her back pops their head up and can suckle.

(Aside from Rachel: If you don’t have “Can you throw it over your shoulder like a Continental Soldier…do your boobs, hang, low” stuck in your head right now, then I’m impressed.)

In our first months here on the field we quickly adjusted to seeing boobs whipped out like a pacifier just about everywhere – in church, my hubby had to get over the awkwardness of preaching while numerous women had their entire boob just hanging out of their blouses – at one service I watched him try to keep preaching straight-faced and focused while a teenage girl in the front row teased her baby brother by pulling her mother’s breast away from him, then giving it back, only to pull it away quickly again.

I just can’t even.

It was all I could do not to laugh as my husband, red-faced and trying not to cry while nearly laughing himself, attempted to find a place to look aside from the crying baby, teasing teenager and completely oblivious mother attached to the boob directly in front of him.

One time a group of our visitors were helping at the home of local granny – a woman who was known for being a bit outlandish. She lined each of the volunteers up and proceeded to measure their boobs by squeezing them like supermarket produce, then made a proclamation from her own wisdom as to how prepared they were for feeding a baby based on her “scientific findings.” I was stuck between being mortified and finding the whole thing hilarious, but did have to do some explaining to our completely shocked visitors after we left.

And then there’s…“The Boob Story.”

One day while walking through our local town with one of our staff members, my husband saw a woman in a nearby yard standing topless. She was a young woman, so gravity had not yet taken its toll, and my husband was shocked to see her topless in public (as mentioned women here normally cover up unless their baby is feeding or in need of the pacifier.) But what REALLY shocked him was the other woman – the one on her knees with her face literally buried in the first woman’s chest.

Kneeling woman had her hands on standing woman’s boobs and was squeezing them, much like it might look if a man were…making out with a woman…to put it in delicate missionary terms.

My hubby calls it “going to town on them.”

His first reaction was of shock, horror and extreme embarrassment, and he turned to our staff member, thinking that this looked a whole lot more like an amusement park than a factory.

He quickly asked “What on earth is going on over there?!”

“Oh that?” replied our worker, completely unfazed by the obviously pornographic scene that my husband was witnessing, “The clinic wasn’t open today.”

(As if that explains a woman burying her face in and playing with another woman’s bosoms.)

After quite a bit more explaining, my husband came to understand that the lady on her knees had been on her way to her field when she had been sprayed in the face by a venomous snake. Since our small clinic is closed on the weekend, there’s only one place the locals know of to find pressurized, sterile liquid with which to rinse one’s eyes of poison and prevent blindness.

Breastmilk from a lactating woman.

Just another normal day in the missions field.

I have informed my husband that if a snake ever sprays him in the face on the weekend…it’s probably best if he just goes blind.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

Sorta.

So. What have we learned today?

  1. Bras serve a very real and important purpose, regardless of what all those 1970’s undergarment-burning feminist activists told us.
  2. Cultural attitudes towards boobs vary wildly across the planet. Just because in one culture waving them around like a flag is considered improper or sexual doesn’t mean it will be elsewhere.
  3. Husbands need to carry saline solution IV bags with them when wandering through the mission field bush. Either that or risk either going blind or their wife’s wrath.
  4. We spend way too much money on pacifiers and teething toys when free boobs work just fine.
  5. Missionaries get into awkward situations. A lot.

Under the Knife.

If you’re reading this, I survived my surgery enough to hit “publish”.

I thought about publishing it automatically, but then what if something went horribly wrong? Did I really want this to be my last blog post?

Because these are the things I think about. Which is why, on Tuesday night, I was having that conversation with Chris where I tell him our bank account passwords and such. After the seventh password and him shaking his head and muttering the entire time “I’m never going to remember any of this”, I just suggested, “You know what? Why don’t you just take $40K from my Life Insurance payout and hire an accountant to sort it all out for the first year.”

To which he said, “You think I don’t already have a backup plan? With all the sickness you’ve had in the past two years?”

“Seriously? A backup plan?”

“Yeah. I have Plan Alpha, Plan Beta, and more. That’s right – I have multiple backup plans.”

So there you go.

He has his own plans upon my passing.

See if I try and tell him any passwords ever again.

On to the post.


Today is the day.

I get to go from this:

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To this:

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It’s so nice of Apple to have an “Infected Tonsil Emoji” and “Tonsil-Free Emoji” just for occasions such as today – especially since they’ve failed us in so many other ways like simply giving us cheese and bacon (and poop with emotions.)

Despite Chris’ Family Body Parts Collection, he has decided that he does not, in fact, want my tonsils. Perhaps it was this Tonsil Keepsake Box convinced him how very much he didn’t want them.

 

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Or perhaps it was all of the times in the past month that I’ve made him look at my throat with a flashlight. But whatever the reason, I’m relieved – because it’s always less creepy to not have to ask your surgeon for your removed body parts.

I’ve been preparing for the ridiculously long recovery that is advertised with a tonsillectomy, but it’s hard to get others to understand it – it does, on the surface, seem like an easy surgery.

One conversation I had this week, in trying to explain why I’d be away from life for a while, went like this:

Friend: “I don’t understand. Tonsillectomies aren’t a big deal for kids. Why do you think it’s going to be such a long recovery for you?”

Me: “Apparently it’s way worse for adults than kids.”

Friend: “Oh I see. You mean…you mean like a circumcision?”

Me: “Yes. I’m having an Adult Tonsil Circumcision.”

So it’ll be a little while before I’m back to blogging, but I will have an absolutely delightful and very special guest next week. I promise that you will NOT want to miss this precious set of stories.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend. No – a doubly great one – one for me and one for you.

Because this will be what I’m doing.

Bleeding Tonsil Emoji with Flesh Uvula

Too much?

My apologies.