Thanks for your prayers for SIMStart and for the encouraging messages! It’s been an interesting day. Mostly it involved talking to people for the morning (in the interviews) and listening to people in that afternoon. It’s quite difficult to sit and listen to people, even when it’s engaging, in the afternoon after a yummy lunch or dinner. They are feeding us really well. We just finished up for the day and at only 8 PM, I’m ready for some sleep! I’m interested to get to the meeting with the psychologist tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear what they have determined about me. I think some people who had that part today found it hard, but I suspect I might find it easier to talk since I’ve been in Christian counseling for 2 years already. I may be surprised. I actually sat with both psychologists at dinner tonight and had some interesting conversations, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first interview today was mostly about my story – how I came to know Christ, what it was like in my family, whether my church and family support my decision to go on the mission field, etc. One of the missionaries, Jim, asked me what my dad would say if he were still here and I was telling the story about his comment in Golden Corral (see the blog called Dying to Self). Suddenly I found myself crying, which was a total shock to me! Thankfully the other missionary, Liz, had a tissue. They were gracious and I regained my ability to talk before too long. I gave the guy a hard time later in the day for making me cry in an interview.

The second interview was really interesting to me. I got to talk with two other missionaries, Carol and Bob, and it was a very light conversation. I could have talked for hours with them. Carol was talking about her kids, who range in age from 28-32, and about how two of them are not currently married. It was encouraging to hear her affirmation when I was explaining that singleness was my personal “hut in Africa.” It’s counter-cultural to prioritize marriage as secondary to “that which He has for me,” but it’s Biblical. I appreciate those who understand and are supportive of that decision (as opposed to assuming that I’m moving to another country as a missionary in response to my inability to find someone who will marry me). Incidentally, one of the girls here said that she knew a woman who, upon leaving for the mission field, was told, “Well you might as well get a hysterectomy because you won’t get married and you need to save the money on feminine products.” Wow.

After the second interview of the day I had a little free time to visit my friend, Cindy Ely, who works here at SIM. It’s always refreshing to see her because she’s such an encourager. She’s faithful about sending me encouraging cards too, something that I’m terribly ungifted at doing on a consistent basis!! We were able to eat lunch together too, which was great.

After lunch was a talk on the Vision of SIM. It was interesting to hear that SIM has over 1600 missionaries (from many, many countries) and is active in 55 countries on 6 continents. I enjoyed thinking about how working in a guest house would fit into the purpose statement: “SIM is a community of God’s people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.” We were challenged to decide which part of the four-fold mission statement we’d be primarily addressing: “The mission of SIM is to glorify God by planting, strengthening, and partnering with churches around the world as we:

  • evangelize the unreached,
  • minister to human need,
  • disciple believers into churches, and
  • equip churches to fulfill Christ’s Commission.”

I decided that the most direct way that the guest house manager would be a part of that mission would be to meet the human needs of those who pass through. The exciting thing about the role, though, is that it’s a way to indirectly do all of the above since I would be supporting those coming and going from the field – those who work in all sorts of roles there. It’s the whole idea of being a part of the body of Christ – every role is needed and necessary for the body as a whole to function.

The other afternoon session was about the SIM core value of being church centered. SIM has 10 core values, but I think we only hear about 3 or 4 of them this weekend. I think we’re taught from a young age that the church is not a building, but a body of believers. On the other hand, today we discussed the church as both a community as well as an institution. It is necessarily both if it is to function well and meet the needs that it’s intended to meet.

Dinner was meatloaf tonight and between bites of mashed potatoes, salad, and corn, I was able to talk a bit with both psychologists. The one that I am meeting with tomorrow was a pilot in Africa while on the field in the 1970’s. I talked with him a little about that and was explaining that my dad was a pilot on the mission field in the 1950’s in Brazil. I ended up in a quite interesting conversation with the other psychologist about the lies that MK’s (missionary kids) believe after having grown up on the field. I don’t have kids nor any prospects of having kids on the field at this point, but the topic fascinated me after having to spend some time in Christian counseling dealing with my own lies that the world taught me. It’s quite common for MK’s to believe such lies as:

  • I don’t matter.
  • Everyone else is more important than me.
  • I must be perfect.
  • I cannot ask for help.
  • I must not be a burden to those around me.

That’s just the few that I remember, but he named several more. It’s easy to see how children could get that feeling when they are growing up with parents who are engrossed in ministry. To think that this particular psychologist focuses on people in missions, cross-cultural ministry, and MK’s is a little intimidating. It’s not an easy path, it seems! I don’t believe I ever thought it was easy, but to think about the potential for needing counseling in the future is fascinating.

The last session of the day focused on another core value at SIM: Strengthened thru Diversity. There are multiple sending offices for SIM throughout the world, so on the field I might be working side-by-side with people from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, or South America, in addition to the US and Canada. We spent some time discussing the challenges that arise from that, but also the richness that can be gained from having that sort of diversity along with a oneness in Christ. It was a great deal of food for thought!

So, as day 2 draws to a close, my brain is quite full and my eyelids quite heavy. Tomorrow is medical stuff, a meeting with the long-term coordinator (discussing possible placements and my interests, I think?), and the much anticipated psychological review. I look forward to seeing what else I can learn this weekend. I don’t believe I have encountered anything too surprising today and certainly nothing that would dissuade me from this path right now. I am still feeling confident that moving forward here is part of that which He has for me. I am anxious to learn more!