Thirteen years ago, I hugged my parents and sister good-bye, gave them one last kiss, and then boarded a plane which took me not only thousands of miles away from my home, but also from the world as I knew it. But I’m not really adventurous; really I’m a timid homebody.
But in the years since then, I’ve had many experiences that have been, well let’s say stretching if not at least a little adventuresome.
I’ve lived without running water and electricity.
I have missed being close for the births and deaths of family members.
I’ve been to baby naming ceremonies and learned how another culture welcomes a new life.
I’ve heard the wailing that means a death with no hope for eternity.
I’ve watched Jesus change a life.
I’ve felt ugly with hair I cut myself and sweat constantly dripping off my face.
I’ve struggled to communicate in a language that tied my tongue and defied my understanding.
I laughed at a funny story – told in that language.
I’ve helped women learn to read.
I’ve killed lots of big roaches.
I traveled hundreds of miles via truck, canoe, and small airplane to have a baby.
I’ve made new friends who don’t speak English.
I’ve missed old ones who do.
I thrilled a mother with a simple gift for her child.
I washed lots of old fashioned cloth diapers by hand with no running water.
I waded through big mud puddles to find the shallowest route for my husband to drive the truck through, knowing all along that if we got stuck, we would really be stuck.
I’ve cried in church listening to songs in all kinds of languages praising God.
I’ve cried at nights missing my daughter who was far away from home in a boarding school.
I’ve said so many good byes, I can’t count them.
I’ve packed up my home and moved at least 10 times.
I’ve heard angry voices approaching our house and rocks hit our tin roof during a riot.
I’ve given both of our children back to the Lord, crying by their beds as they lay sick, not sure if they would live or die.
No, I’m not brave or adventuresome. How many times in the last years have I thought, “What in the world am I doing here?” I’m neither miserable or unhappy or regretful about life. There are times when I feel that it is the greatest privilege of my life to be a global worker in West Africa. And there are times when I feel that it is the greatest sacrifice of my life to be a global worker in West Africa.
But in reality, it is neither. And it is both.
The greatest thing in life is not what my title is or where I live, but knowing God. At the same time, what a blessing it is to serve God wherever He calls. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself for what being a global worker causes me to miss out on, but rather live gratefully for all it adds to my life. And it has added so much. Yes, I have sacrificed things by being a global worker – but God promises to richly repay us for anything that we give to Him. I hold to that promise with each good bye. Yes, life as a global worker means sacrifice and privilege. And it’s worth it.
View the original print magazine where this article was first published.