Sunday, June 15, 2014

Across the Miles

A few of my most-favourite moments here in Tanzania have been spent facing a computer screen, skyping with someone across the ocean.
Things like...
  • Learning that I was going to be an aunt
  • Worshiping weekly with an amazing family in the States over Skype in English 
  • Joining a friend’s newly-adopted kids at the table for their breakfast (my dinner)
  • Playing hide-and-seek via an ipad with a 2-yr-old friend and her sisters in Kalamazoo.
  • Seeing a kids' church group raise over $500 for the learning center here in Musoma, gather amazing supplies, and pie their leader in the face on our behalf.
These kids (and their leaders) ROCK!!!
  • Answering questions (at 2:30am my time) from kids about the weather (is it like Mexico?), whether I have elephants in my yard, and why I have guards outside my house.
  • Being prayed over by great friends and feeling equipped for the next week by prayers across the miles.
I don’t say this meaning that I haven’t had amazing moments here in Tanzania. I've tried to fill a blog with all the moments I treasure with people here, both with Tanzanians and amazing teammates from other countries - and have only begun to scratch the surface. But the support/encouragement of people over skype and being included in life events from afar has made being here all the things I’ve missed (by being here) more doable – and encouraged me immensely along the way when I felt alone, or when everything here was overwhelming. So I thought I'd share just a bit of what I've learned over the past 5 years for the next person headed this way.

(Just A Few) Ways to Encourage Your Friends on the Mission Field

  • Send them invitations to events like weddings. Even if you know they won’t be able to attend, it makes all the difference in the world. (A huge thanks goes out to the amazing people who did this for me.)
  • Send Christmas cards. It doesn’t matter if they arrive in February – they’ll still love and treasure every one, hang your picture up on their wall to look at the next three years... and smile. 
  • When you get a newsletter emailed to your inbox, take a second, read it, and then write back. Even just a sentence or two. If you’re praying for them, tell them. Write your prayer out in an email. If you liked something in particular or want to learn more, they’d love to know!
  • Find out if your missionary has a wish list. Skim it every now and again.
  • Ask for information that you can share on their behalf with your church, small group, Bible Study, etc. If they’re going to miss missions Sunday at your church, ask how you can represent them in their absence. They'll be honored to be remembered.
  • Decorate a pillow case (or table cloth, or blanket if they live someplace cold) with verses, prayers, outlines of hands, pictures, etc using sharpies and send it to them. Have your kids work with you on the design. Your missionary, young or old, can fall asleep each night being reminded of God’s Truth and that people believe in and support and love them.
This case (and others) are hardly readable after all the love they've received the last two years!
  • If you haven’t heard from them for a while, ask why. Chances are that’s when they need your prayers more than ever.
  • Share your prayer requests. Some of my dearest encouragers have been those who have shared their needs with me too. Being able to “live life” together and pray from across the miles makes fellowship all the sweeter… and allows missionaries to feel comfortable truly sharing what’s going on knowing it’s a two-way street.
And with thanks to FB, I just came across a site that has a few more ideas of how to encourage missionaries HERE for your reading pleasure... :)

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