Tag Archives: missionary

I Am Alice

I felt like Alice in Wonderland as I stood in the hallway of the big Victorian house, beside my friend Lucia, who looked like a boy but wore a dress. There was a cake on the table. It was covered in blue icing, and there was a sign on it that said “Eat Me.”

Lucia had tapped me on the shoulder as I sat in the library, killing time until my brother Ben got out of class. “Do you have a car?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Is there any way you could take me to downtown Albany? I need to check into a homeless shelter.”

“Yes,” I said, “Of course.” I logged out of the computer and grabbed my backpack. “Just tell me where to go.” We walked across campus to my car.

(I will pause here to clarify that Lucia is transgender, identifying as female though she is biologically male. I do believe that a person should stick with their God-given gender, but I will be referring to Lucia as “she” in this post out of respect for her.)

Lucia stuck her red purse in the back seat, and we drove off towards downtown. Somewhere along the line she mentioned that she had been arrested the day before.

“Really?” I asked, “what for?”

“Mental health issues. I tried to kill myself in plain sight of a policeman.”

“What?” I freaked.

She gave a sort of sad laugh. “Sorry,” she said. “I forget that normal people don’t just nonchalantly say things like that.”

I told her about my cousin’s suicide, and how hard it was on my family. “Was it hard for your family when your mom killed herself?” I asked.

Lucia shrugged. “My dad and sister pretended to be upset for a little while. I was the only one who really missed her.”

If we were in a movie, these lines would have been delivered in a sad and introspective voice, and I would have said the perfect thing in response. Something like “Jesus is the answer,” only in a totally meaningful and non-cliche way. As it was, Lucia laughed at the tragedy. She looks at her terrible life with a cold irony, that what is normal to her is horribly unspeakable to others.

What could I say to her? I have found the answer in Jesus, it is true. But there she is, in a world where she has been hated by hypocritical Christians because she chose not to follow Biblical teachings on gender distinction. And here I was, here I am, trying to show my classmates the hope of Jesus, trying to show instead of tell.

I prayed. “God! What do I do? What do I say? Am I a terrible person for saying nothing about You? For not even turning on a Christian radio station? For doing nothing?”

It was then, as I turned left on a one-way street, that I got an overwhelming sense of peace. I don’t have to be a perfect missionary all at once. I am in training. I am learning. The first step is the learn to love.

The homeless shelter was in a big Victorian house downtown. People lounged on the porch, smoking and chatting, looking very homeless and making me feel kind of preppy and snotty in my nice clothes. I mean yes, I got them all for free, but I also have regular access to a washing machine and a huge closet. Just saying.

I sat down on the porch railing beside a man with a camo baseball cap, waiting for Lucia to register. Me and the man started talking about all kinds of things. Healthcare, hypocrites, all the places we’d lived, the beauty and freedom of road trips, etc.

The sun was shining and things seemed so beautiful. I wanted to come back, and I wanted to bring tea.

It was beautiful. Lucia, the homeless man, the sunshine, the listening. And, of course, the “Eat Me” cake, which I didn’t actually eat. The Alice-In-Wonderland sort of fascination with this little world of homelessness that I was completely unfamiliar with.

When I think of being a missionary, I imagine moments like this.

My Secret Hopes and Dreams

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I said to myself, “I just want to be happy.”

Myself answered, “would you rather be happy, or have a wild ocean life?

I said, “a wild ocean life.”

Then I went to sleep.

This is a post about what I want out of life, how I came to those conclusions, and how I am pursuing those dreams.

To begin with, I will talk about babies.

What is it with woman and babies? If I spent years studying neurological science in women, or God’s ordered plan for families, or both, could I understand it?

When there was a newborn in the church,  all my friends used to gather in a line, waiting for a chance to hold it. I was, I will confess, never in that line. I didn’t really like babies. They were hot and sticky and I always ended up accidentally dropping them. If being a woman meant that I had to like babies, well phooey, I would just fail at being a woman.

I guess I just thought I would never like babies. Never want one, never need one.

However. About a year ago, my cousin Randy and his wife Shelley had a baby girl named Jocelyn. I went to visit her, and held her, and before long I was starting to have dreams that Jocelyn was my baby. Furthermore, they were very pleasent dreams.

So for what it’s worth, I now have a secret wish for a baby someday.

Of course, the subject of babies leads naturally into the subject of husbands. As odd as it sounds, the main reason I want a husband is for the convenience.

Problem: I’m sick all the time and have a hard time making enough money to support myself.

Solution: Husband!

Problem: I am going to go on the mission field, but am scared of how lonely/depressing it would be to go alone.

Solution: Husband!

Problem: I want to adopt a baby, but still firmly believe that a child should have, if possible, a mother and a father.

Solution: Husband!

If I were planning my romance, it would go like this. There would be a guy, and I would fall for him, but I wouldn’t know if he liked me or not, and no one would know that I liked him, etc, so as to have zero zilch drama.

But in the meantime I would get to know him and realize that he was perfect for me.

Then, one day, he would realize that I was perfect for him too, and he would say, “Hey Emily, let’s get married and jet off to Africa.”

“Okay,” I would say, and we would get married and jet off to Africa.

Impossible, you say? There is no such thing as a romance without drama, you say? Well. A romance without drama is one of my secret hopes and dreams, however far fetched it may be.

But bigger, much much bigger than babies or husbands, is my hope and dream to be on the mission field some day.

Maybe this one shouldn’t be in the same category. With babies and husbands, the hope is one born of natural desire that most women will experience without being able to help it. The mission field idea began with a hope of being involved in  something bigger than myself, which is a natural enough desire. However, after years of random trials and wild ocean life, I realized that the way to be involved, really involved in something bigger than myself, was to give everything to God without holding back.

God said, “I want you on my mission field.” Thus, the desire to be a part of something bigger than myself transformed into a desire to be on God’s mission field, permanently, for the rest of my life.

I have one more dream to share. My dream to finish college.

Although I felt very strongly for a while that God wanted me to get my degree in communications before I went on the mission field, I began to doubt myself this winter. My friend Phebe and my sister Amy both went on long mission trips, returning with pictures and stories of poverty and sadness and people who needed Jesus. I thought, “what am I doing her, going to college, when I could be out there, accomplishing great things for Christ?”

This doubt churned round and round in my brain, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Once I was talking about this to my cousin Randy and he said, “Emily, this is my opinion. I think there are missionaries, and then there are effective missionaries. The effective missionaries are the ones who have spent time in preparation.”

That really struck a chord with me. I had felt before that God wanted to prepare me by sending me through college, and now the same feeling returned. Because truth be told, I love college. I mostly love learning.

What are your secret hopes, dreams, and desires?