"Why am I doing this?"
For probably every missionary, there is one moment when he or she asks him- or herself this question:
"Why am I doing this?"
For me, this moment came when I was working in a little village in the west of Guatemala. Just around three months after arriving in this wonderful country for the first time, I was sent to the village to work with a local church and support them in their ministries. I was very nervous about working alone and didn’t know what to expect.
The nature there was absolutely stunning and the people friendly. I was invited to stay with a family of the church and live with them for the two weeks I would spend in this village. I even had my own private room and a comfortable bed.
There was no internet, no shower, and the toilet was a latrine behind the house. But that was not such a big deal for me; after all, I went to Guatemala to serve, and I'd known it could involve things like that.
After the first day, I gladly jumped into the bed, tired of the travelling and the new impressions. When I woke up the next morning, I had many little dots on my arms and legs, and they were itching like crazy. Bed bugs!
From then on, every evening before going to bed, I had to fight internally with myself, forcing myself to get into that bed again, knowing the bugs would eat me alive. The people were so friendly, offering everything they had with a servant attitude. The last thing I wanted was to offend them, so I just endured.
But it was in those days, laying in a bed full of bugs, when this question came to me: Why am I doing this?
Suddenly, all the little things that were no problem before started to bother me. I just wanted to go home.
But I stayed.
I remembered the calling I felt back in Switzerland to leave. I recalled all the things that had happened during the process of coming to Guatemala and the clear confirmation from God, that it was the right place for me.
I realised that not everything was bad, that I love the warmhearted people who share everything they have with a humble attitude, that I love the food, the beautiful nature and many other things.
There was an internal battle going on between the things that bothered me and the things I loved. It was (and sometimes still is) an emotional rollercoaster, but in all the different feelings I held on to, the one thing that was not just an emotion, that didn't move, was the Rock in my life. I held on to the Lord, knowing that He had put me here for a reason and that He has a perfect plan and purpose for my life and work in Guatemala.
I believe it is completely normal to have those emotional rollercoaster rides as a missionary in a foreign country. There are moments when you hate the things happening around you and feel overwhelmed. But at the same time, you just love the country, the culture, and the people, and you never want to leave again.
I learned to not act too much on my emotions but rather orientate myself on Jesus all the time. That is not always easy, sometimes even really hard, but it is the only way to hear God's will and act on it.