Recently, in an attempt to compliment me, someone talked about how I as a missionary had to give up so much to move to the mission field. The main thing he mentioned was a nice home. I felt kind of guilty that he was bragging about me giving up a nice home since I have never owned my own home in the US to give up and frankly my home in Nigeria is pretty nice. But, it got me thinking about what things we do miss when we are in Nigeria and I thought I would share my list. Every missionary is different and sacrifices different things, but this is my list of what I feel I give up in America when I am in Nigeria:
• Obviously the thing I miss most is family and friends. I miss being able to have lunch with my parents and being close enough to my sister to get our kids together to play. I miss the support and love of life long friends.
• Anonymity! I know this is a funny thing to miss, but in Nigeria, we understand why movie stars hate paparazzi. Everywhere we go in Nigeria people want to touch us, talk to us or take our picture since they don’t see many white people. We love blending in to America. I like that can run to the store in sweats with hair in a pony tail and no one cares or even looks twice at me.
• The convenience of drive-throughs, and Amazon!
• Smooth roads and lack of military stops. Oh and rest stops with clean bathrooms and food to purchase! Driving in the US is a treat compared to driving in Nigeria.
• Parks, playgrounds, and museums that I can take my kids to. I am currently loving the Wheaton park district!
• Opportunities for my kids to be on sports teams, take ballet class, all the educational opportunities in America.
• Being able to travel or go out at night without worrying about our safety. Strolling through our town at night is such a treat to us while we are in the States.
• Air conditioning.
• The ease of paying for everything with a debit card. In Nigeria we have to carry around cash for most everything.
• I miss American police. I know there has been a lot in the news about corrupt police, but our US police force is actually quite awesome! Much of the rest of the world lives in fear of their own police and military forces.
• Civil rights for women and children! I hate to see the abuse I see of woman and children when I am abroad. I hate how few are willing to stand up to the system in order to change it. I hate how I have to call a man for help since I, as a woman, am often not respected as an equal.
• I miss having no one offer to marry my very young daughters on a daily basis.
• Outlet malls!
• Uncle Julio’s Hacienda! I really miss good Mexican food!
• Chivalry. When I first arrived in Nigeria, I have many doors hit me in the face because I was so used to men holding doors for me. I am thankful for all the gentlemen in my life that have shown me so much respect in my life.
• Spring and fall and sometimes, but not too often, I miss snow. In Nigeria, we just have dry season and wet season.
• Fresh Milk. My family goes through a gallon a day in the US, and we hate powdered milk in Nigeria.
• Good, clean medical facilities with nice, competent nurses!
Now that I have spent a year in the US, I realize that I miss a whole lot about Nigeria too! I don’t think my heart will ever be wholly in one place again. I will always have a part of my heart on the other side of the globe no matter which side of the ocean I find myself. Here is my list of what I miss about my home in Nigeria when I am in the States:
• The deep friendships I have developed. When you live in chaos and endure hardships with people, you develop a unique deep bond that is rich.
• The openness of Nigerian culture. I hardly ever shut my front door in Nigeria. Friends are always stopping by to visit and food is always ready to be shared.
• Adventure! Life in Nigeria is often hard, but never boring. Every day holds a new adventure just waiting to be experienced.
• The front row seat. I do get to see God work in incredible ways in the US, and I have to say this last year in the US has been nothing short of miraculous in our lives, but the spiritual battle in Nigeria is exciting. We are seeing people come out of such darkness and we get to see so many miraculous conversions that I feel like I have the best seat in the house for God’s work in this world!
• The blunt honesty of Nigerians! I first hated it. No one likes to be told to your face when you have gained weight. But, in contrast to our politically correct America, Nigerian honesty is refreshing!
• Raw reality. In America we mask reality all the time. People die with so much pain meds that people meet death with numbness. We put makeup on corpses to make death look beautiful. We justify our sins and hide our hurts behind closed doors. In Nigeria, life is raw. We see death as it is and we see hurts all around us. This may not sound like a good thing, but it is. It keeps us focused on and grateful for the promise of the next world. The raw reality around us allows us to step into each other’s lives in a way we do not often see in America. We get the honor of being the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us and we get the privilege of having others be that for us.
• The joy. Nigerian are incredibly joyful people. I hardly go a day in Nigeria without seeing a Nigerian woman dancing in joy over something. Nigerians are grateful even when they have little and this makes me more grateful.
• My many kids! At Grace Gardens, I am mommy Missy and I love it! I love so many kids and women as if they are my flesh and blood children and when I am away, my heart breaks from the desire to see them again.
Looking at my lists, I have decided that yes, I tried really hard to sacrifice for God when I left for Nigeria, but God gave me much more than I ever gave Him. The things I give up, for the most part, seem so superficial in light of the things I have received. It is a blessing to be in the service of the Most High God! I find it a privilege to give to God and I find it humbling how much He gives to me. I don’t have a nice house in America, but I have the privilege of feeling at home in two different countries. I hope that is if there is anyone reading this who is thinking about stepping out in faith to follow God, but they are afraid to let go of where they are now, I pray that you will be encouraged to let go today. John and I were so afraid to let go of what we had in America, and now I Laugh at that fear. Our God is so generous to us, but often our fists are too tightly held to our own desires to be able to grasp the blessing God is offering us.