Cheese and hot showers. String cheese; gooey deliciousness in my quesadillas; parmesan on my pasta. Hot water for a nice, refreshing shower.
These are two of my favorite things. These are also two of the things I miss most in Cambodia. Cheese and hot showers.
Maybe it shouldn’t bother me so much that I don’t have these simple commodities, but it does. I miss them more than I miss my car or my bed or department stores. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.
Though this is a light-hearted example, life in a different country and culture does mean life without many things we’re used to. Some things simply cannot be helped: toilets that flush, air conditioning . . . the list goes on and on. This makes life hard.
Yet there are some things that can be helped. And we still live without them. This makes life even harder.
What kind of things can be helped? Some come by our choice: we can choose to live with time set aside for rest, with pets if we choose, with boxed mac ‘n’ cheese and cheese nips that hold the glorious flavour of cheddar. We can pay for wifi and for a fridge and stove.
Yet there are things that missionaries cannot pay for. No matter how much we wish we could provide them for ourselves, we cannot. And these things – the things we cannot obtain with a little more financial support – are the things we need most.
They are community; friendship; people who care about us and tell us this, even though we’re on the other side of the world; commitment to talk to us and pray for us and hear about our struggles, no matter how simple or complex.
I am just as guilty as anybody. I am terrible at keeping up with people overseas when I am “home.” I admit it. Life in North America moves quickly – a day, a week, and suddenly a month has passed by, and I have forgotten to email or reply to a friend. This is an obstacle, yes, but it is an obstacle that intentionality can overcome.
Life in other countries and cultures is hard. There’s no way around it. But one of the greatest sacrifices made by those who move to another country doesn’t have to be such a big sacrifice, after all. And it’s up to us – to you and to me.
We are blessed to have the technology to converse with and keep up with those around the world. Let’s use this technology. Let’s be intentional about maintaining community with the dear friends and family we know who are serving God far away. Life is hard enough with community in foreign places. Let’s not make anyone live without it; this is not a sacrifice that anyone should have to make.
Because with community, I think I can survive without cheese and hot showers for quite a while longer!
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