Thursday, August 6, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure--Part 1: The Decision

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that often seemed to involve capture by aliens and untimely deaths if you made the wrong choices? Well, today you can play your own version—by planning a holiday as a missionary! Don’t forget to stay tuned for Part 2 (if you survive that long!).

You might even feel like you have a cuscus on your head!
(photo courtesy of Rebekah Drew)
1. Your computer’s low battery light blinks, startling you out of your headache-induced stupor. Despite your living on a tropical island in the South Pacific, it’s been frigidly cold for the last few weeks and your uninsulated house has turned your fingers and toes into ice. You’re trying to understand the complex financial situation of the dozens of accounts that make up your translation project as well as problem-solve for your translators (in multiple languages—and who ever learns those words right off the bat?) the bugs in their translation program, when you hear the pitter-patter of rain on the metal roof. Bolting outside to try to salvage the laundry (which you’ve been trying to dry for a week), you sigh as you notice that all your reds and your greens are slowly becoming indistinguishable (thanks to river water) and your underwear has been stretched and ripped beyond recognition. As you lug your laundry basket into the house, you feel that weird cough rising in your throat (who knows what illness you might be fighting?) and you realize that you forgot to go to market this morning, and now your fridge is nearly empty. The power has been out for a few hours, but you do find some old bananas and dust off the fruit flies as you look around your home.

“Hmmm,” you mutter. “I need a vacation.” Do you...

...brush off the nagging thought? Holiday? Who needs a holiday? Missionaries don’t need holidays! I’m just fine!
    (If so, you’re not unlike most missionaries. Please repeat paragraph 1.)

...collapse into tears because you are so burnt out that planning a holiday is the most overwhelming task you’ve ever heard of in this universe?
    (If so, again, welcome to the club. Please repeat paragraph 1.)

...briefly wonder if it might be a possibility in this lifetime.
    (Congratulations! Continue on to paragraph 2.)

2. Over your supper of Maggi noodles and rice you found on a bottom cupboard, you tentatively bring up the topic with your (spouse/housemates). “Ah, a holiday!” one person sighs in ecstacy, “I went on a holiday once! But it’s just so expensive!” Your other friend looks up at you, “Do you know when you want to go? After all, there is that workshop next month and school doesn’t let out until July and who would take over your team’s translation needs? We better look at the next three year plan and coordinate this.”

As you sip your water, you feel your eyes glazing over. Quickly, before you go comatose, do you...

....forget the whole idea. After all, there’s a whole lot of work to be done here, and there really is no one else who can take your place, except for maybe Mary, and she’s busy with other important work and if she took over your spot for a few weeks, then who will take hers? Maybe next year someone will be here, and you can leave.
    (You’re in good company, my friend! Please return to paragraph 1.)

...begin hyperventilating about the expense. Money?! Of course holidays take money! I completely forgot about money! I don’t have any money! And what will my supporters think if I spend their money on a holiday! After all, the last time I put photos on Facebook of our family at the beach, we got some critical emails from a person commenting on the “[supposedly] poor, suffering missionary” and misappropriation of funds!
    (But, you have great resolve and faith—after all, God takes care of sparrows, and they don’t plan vacations! Decide you will consider a stay-cation. Continue on to paragraph 3.)

3. Staying in your home sounds like a cheap alternative—why pay for a bed, food, and roof when you have one right here? Also, no one would actually have to take over your job...maybe if you just spend one day a week in the office, you can push the other things off or delegate. After all, you could be emailed the notes for the department meeting and then read them in the evenings and answer a few more aren’t technically working, because it’s not happening during “work hours,” right? You keep it up for a few days, before the first medevac crisis hits and then your pet gets ill and then your translators need some money to buy a cell phone and then you offer to fill in as the community librarian for a few days. “Isn’t it good I stayed home?” you smirk to yourself, “Look at all this work I’m doing!”

Suddenly, as you run from one meeting to another, while still trying to do laundry that won’t dry and finish the shopping and make the yogurt and fix the blinking security light and chase down the escaping dog and help out your village friends with school fees, you realize...this probably isn’t a holiday. Do you...

...think, this is pretty close to a holiday?
    (So do we all, kemosabe, so do we all. Return to paragraph 1.)

...realize that you might want to think about leaving home.
    (Stay tuned for Part 2.)