Throughout my time on the World Race thoughts of America were never far from my mind. I thought of Chipotle, chips & salsa, Doritos, honey roasted peanut butter, fresh candy bars, and Goldfish. I thought of my roommates, my family in Nevada, and how great it would be to hug and see all of my church family again. I thought of driving my car, going to a big city with all of the things, and being able to get directions in English (or even just using a GPS).
And the reality matched perfectly with my everyday thoughts when I came home. I did have a lot of anxiety from being overwhelmed by the amount of things that are in America but it was so good. I was able to eat what I wanted and go to places without others. Everyone was excited to see me home once more/again and asked all kinds of questions about my journey across the world.
“What was your favorite country?”
“What did you learn from the Lord during this ministry?”
“Are you going back to India again? I know how much you loved it there!”
I told them everything. My favorite people that I met and where I dream of returning to someday. I shared all kinds of traveling tips I had picked up and how to properly greet people in each country.
I also told them I would be moving to Georgia for discipleship school so I could gain more training with the hopes of possibly going back on the field. Everyone was so excited! They saw I had changed my viewpoints in many ways and was focused on the calling of going back out again. Then came the part where had to drop the news that I was once again going to have to fundraise.
“But, aren’t you going to be in America?”
“You want my money and you’re not even going to be outside of this country?”
“I thought only missionaries fundraise?”
I realized in this moment that fundraising $16,000 for my 11 country missions trip was painless compared to fundraising less money for staying in America.
Americans put money towards missions for many reasons. They want to see orphans cared for in Eastern Europe, education being put first in Southern Africa, churches built and thriving in Asia. They might feel that “American guilt” and this is their way to feel better about it. They want to give others what they’ve had their whole lives.
Supporting young Americans living in America is not high on the giving priority list.
You see, I can say this because I understand it. I’ve been there. You send someone your hard earned $100 a month. And you see pictures of them going to baseball games, watching Batman vs. Superman, and visiting Washington D.C. You think that this money can be put to better use. I get that. But I also know things you might not know.
What you don’t know is that we are being paid $200 a month. According to the United States Department of Agriculture and Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion, that cost is 2/3 the cost of typical American’s food budget.
What you don’t know is that we also have to pay for gas, car insurance (for those with cars), and cell phone bills from our own pockets. This money comes from stretching that small $200 as far as we can.
What you don’t know is that we get chastised almost everyday for asking for money while living in America. All because we have the audacity for becoming trained missionaries while living in America.
What you don’t know is that we all have different dreams we hope to make a reality by coming to this school. To find the untouched people groups in Central America. To disciple Christians in secret in China. To tell the women of Central Africa that they are beautiful and worthy. To prepare other missionaries for the brutality of evangelizing in closed countries.
What you don’t know is that this is the hardest thing I’ve done. I can’t stand the ruthless lies that are spoken over me for doing this instead of working like a “normal” American. I struggle to muster up the courage to call people and ask them to support me financially. I struggle listening to God telling me to stay when I want to be back on the missions field again.
What you don’t know is that being a missionary in America is the most courageous thing I’ve done. I’m thriving on almost no resources, while serving the world from America. I’ve pushed myself to grow towards God no matter how difficult it is. I reject the routine that American’s have projected on each generation.
And I refuse. I refuse to accept the lies and judgment. I refuse to back down when the enemy wants me to fall.