Sunday - Church board meeting, 8am, followed by school board meeting… Until 1pm. ‘Seriously? Do you people really have no clue what a budget is?’ I educated them. It was my meaning in missions.
Monday - Had morning meeting with the employees. Patient came in, made tough diagnosis. That’s why I was there. I’m a good doctor. It was the meaning of my mission. Fired two nurses for sleeping together. Cleaning house was my meaning of missions.
Tuesday - Called in for emergency. I’m an excellent emergency physician. Job well done. Met with hospital accountant. Numbers look way off, but there’s money in the cash drawer. Whatever. Keeping this place making money carries some meaning to my mission. Fired another nurse for being drunk. A little fire and brimstone in my meaning of missions.
Wednesday - Led staff worship. That’s right. I’m being an awesome missionary. Met with local authorities. Fired a lab guy for stealing money.
Thursday - Another morning staff meeting, followed by hospital board meeting until 4pm. Apparently committees are the meaning of my mission. Fired… Nobody. It was an off day. The meeting went long, after all.
Friday - Fired a guy for not showing up. Again. Fired a guy for stealing a mattress. Two-fer!!! Made up for yesterday. Vespers.
Sabbath - Had had a week just chock full of the meaning of mission. Tired, wanted to stay home and listen to a sermon on the computer. My wife was also tired.
Nonetheless she said, ‘Dear, wouldn’t it be fun to go out into the village?’
What I heard - ‘Dear, wouldn’t it be fun for you to drive the motorcycle with me and our three children on the back through the sand in 120 degree heat while Tchadians run behind me pointing and shouting NASARA NASARA NASARA?’
I replied, ‘My darling, I love you too much to expose you to the risks of heat exhaustion, motorcycle crashes and sweat stains. After all, my week has been just so full of missions, I don’t know if I can move.’
But she’s much too brave to fear these silly risks and with her gentle and persuasive missionary spirit she replied, ‘Sweetheart, I really think it would be fun. Let’s go, shall we?’
I replied sagely, ‘Wouldn’t it be just delightful to stay? We have so many wonderful sermons on the computer we could listen to. I’m just so exhausted from being such a good missionary this week.’
She prodded ever to tenderly, ‘Man up. Grab the keys and get your butt on the motorcycle.’ We have three young children, so she instinctively started, ‘1, 2, 2.5…’
I’ve been in this situation often enough to know my wife is not great at math and doesn’t do quarters. 2.5 is as high as she goes. But I nevertheless continued with my argument… In my mind. My mouth said, ‘Yes, dear.’ And I made it on the bike before she got to three.
My five-year-old hopped on the front, I reached around him to grab the handlebars, my three-year-old hung on behind me, followed by my wife with our baby strapped to her back, Tchadian-style. There is no Child Protective Services in Tchad.
We drove off searching for a Fulani village we had stumbled across a couple weeks earlier. They are nomads. Danae, my wife, loves their culture, how they braid their hair, their clothing, their language, their animals, their children. She love befriending them and taking pictures with them, then turning around the camera and showing them what they look like on the screen.
Yeah, I think they’re pretty neat too. Except they don’t have any houses and just sleep in the middle of all their pooping animals and I always need to do some ridiculous tip-toeing Charlie Chaplin dance through the donkey dung just to get close enough to say hi.
We found their camp… abandoned.
As you can surely imagine, I was just devastated to turn the motorcycle back home so quickly into our outing.
Driving home through another village, we saw some kids playing at a drilled well. It was foot pump operated and they were jumping up and down it like a game and playing in the cooling water that came out the other end. It looked inviting.
We parked the motorcycle under a mango tree and meandered over to the kids. They noticed us coming and had the typical Tchadian child response. Half screamed and ran to hide. The other half ran straight up to us and then screamed. We played on the well’s foot pump. We pumped water for the ladies who came. We exchanged smiles. We practiced our Nangere tongue. They laughed at us. We laughed at ourselves. Of course, the only Nangere we know is medical, so perhaps they thought it humorous that our greetings included questioning if they were vomiting and having diarrhea.
Our thirsts slaked and fun had, we walked back over to the motorcycle. The kids followed, as did the more-timid adults.
Danae took off her wrap and threw it on the ground. She then sat down on it with the baby. Other kids came and sat down with her. She started quizzing them. Who’s Christian? Who knows the Bible? Who knows the story of Noah?
They were all Christian, but nobody knew the story of Noah. In French, my wife recounted the story as I sat back and observed. She started singing, and they joined in as she learned the simple, ‘Jesus Love is A-Bubbling Over,’ which we translated into the local languages. We taught and sang more songs.
We asked who had prayed in the last week. Not a single one of these Christians had prayed, or was brave enough to at that moment. By now our group was at least 70, maybe more. And so we prayed. Simple, simple stuff.
It was nearing lunch and my stomach was rumbling. So we saddled up the motorcycle once again, some missionary equivalent of clowns in a VW beetle.
As we pulled away, the crowd stopped us. They asked, ‘C’est comme ca?’ (It’s like that?) You’re just going to leave? You come, you teach us the Bible, you teach us songs, you teach us to pray, then you leave? This is not good! Will you not return next Saturday?
I discovered the meaning of missions, taught to me by my wife and children. That village still has somebody come visit them every Saturday, to share another Bible story, to sing songs and to teach them to pray. Regularly, there are more than 100 souls there. We have been asked to build a church.
We have found our meaning. We have found our mission. We know God calls everybody to different things. But God calls everybody. Have you spent enough time with Him to know how He calls you? To you have the courage to follow Him?
Care to come join us? Care to find your mission? Care to find meaning? If God is calling you to the first-world, that’s ok. If God is calling you to the third-world, that’s ok too. Let us know how He calls you and we’ll be thrilled to encourage you to follow His calling. We are at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or if God happens to be calling you to help in other ways, if you’re as excited about what we do as we are and you want to be a part of it, financially or otherwise, go to www.adventisthealthinternational.org and find out how you can be involved.