Before Tim and Rebecca (seriously not their names) signed on for a short term mission trip they sat down for a little "couch time discussion" where they set out their expectations regarding the work ahead. They knew their travel details, and had received an email outlining what the mission director was expecting from them. They were to help one of the expereienced dual-language teachers teach English to a group of mission leaders. They knew the two goals of the local leaders: a. understand on-line sermons and b. understand written materials, all in the English language. This they knew.
Now they took a little time to pray together and decide what they personally wanted from the trip. They would be working in a European capital for a month. Did they want to sharpen their own language skills in a second language? Did they view this short term mission as a "tester" to see if God wanted them to make this a longer term mission? So many questions.
One thing they did know: they had been working and serving their church and looking after extended family members around the clock and they needed a holiday! With that in mind, they wrote and asked the mission coordinator if they could come a week early and just acclimatise and rest.
"Of course," came the return email. "We'll get your room ready."
Off they went. They were all packed (Tim -being Blue- had the packing list sorted) and Rebecca (being Red boldly smiled all the way to the airport).* On arrival they were both pleased that their expectations of local transportation stood the test of their on-line research. The underground took them staright to the mission centre. So far, so good.
Then, they noticed that in the centre, no one was stirring in the kitchen.
They asked the centre director if there were any plans for a meal that night.
"Not that I know of," came a happy reply.
In need of a coffee they went for a walk to find a cafe and buy few groceries, with the idea of cooking for themselves and blessing the centre director with a meal. They were determined to keep that "attitude of gratitude," that came naturally to Rebecca but was already wearing thin with Tim. Not having factored this into their budget, they reset their espectations for daily meal expenditure.
At dinner that night, the director thanked them for coming early. "This will give you time to prepare," she said.
"Oh?" replied Tim, "Remember we did email and say we needed to chill out this week."
"Well, " said thei director, "I want you to know that you will be leading all the teaching next week. You need to write up the curriculum. Someone I was counting on dropped out. You're British. You will be perfect."
Not what they expected.
At times, "not what you expected" can be a good thing. When I visited my parents in South Korea (they were missionaries in Taejon), I was concerned about how they were doing/coping with working long hours (at retirement age) and living so far from the United States. For a few days I joined in their daily schedule. Every where they went, someone caried their books and saw to it that they happily made their appointments (including calling taxis for them), They had all they needed in their apartment, and students were regularly dropping by, bringing food or various gifts. When I said good-bye to them, I mentioned how relieved I was at the care they were given which enabled their work/life ballance,
"Just don't expect the bowing to continue when you get home!" I said.
This month the Relocation Mentor emails will be looking at the words DENIAL and OFFENCE and I will give tips on managing expectations. Love to have you sign up! Just sign up for the Monthly Newsletter above, and I'll tell you more!