We just got a box of goods from our home church. It had a couple of books, some vitamins, Old Bay Seasoning, clarinet reeds, a table cloth, some letters from children and friends at our home church, and a couple of bottles of Screaming Hornets Hot Sauce. The box reminded me of a few things that international missionaries need from their home church.
1. Things they need to minister that are not available in their new locations. Chewable vitamins are very useful in the work that we do. But chewable vitamins are generally unavailable in the Philippines (or prohibitively expensive). Two books (one on missiology and one on family counseling) we got are available in the US but not here.
2. Things that are not available but add to quality of life. The table cloth we got is of a type that is unavailable here. Clarinet (and saxophone) reeds are available where we live, but only beginner types. We used to appreciate dark chocolate because it was unavailable… but times have changed and they are now easy to get here.
3. Things that are not available and connect one to home. The Philippines has a lot of great food, but some things from back home cannot be come by. Coming from Virginia there are some good things we miss. We miss good ham… but that’s not particularly realistic to ship. But the Old Bay Seasoning and the Screaming Hornets Hot Sauce are small, but important ways of connecting with home.
4. Verbal expressions. The letters remind us in a tangible way that we are connected with home. It is always good to know that we are remembered.
You know, the Philippines is our home now. But that does not mean that we have lost our old home. We have two homes. Missionaries need financial support, they need material support for ministry. But they also need things that connect them to friends and family and land that is their other home.
Being involved with a counseling center here in the Philippines, one of our ministries is providing member care— psychological, emotional, and spiritual support— for missionaries, particularly for Filipino missionaries that serve in other countries. The loneliness and depression that sense of disconnection is common. This is partly due to the common experience of being disconnected from home. Just because missionaries go to other countries, it should not be assumed that a part of them does not remain at home.
It is very difficult for those that feel cut off… rejected… at home. A box from home is not much… but it says a lot.