Lifelong learning

Whenever I look back to how and why I became a missionary, or when I hear the motivation of other ‘want-to-be-missionaries’ I often wonder: ‘Do you know what you are going to do?’ To be honest, I didn’t. One of the things I know for sure by now, is that we need to be open for lifelong learning. Not just the language. In the beginning this was the most obvious goal we had in mind. If we could speak Thai, we could reach the Thai. Language learning might be the most obvious task, but it ‘only’ takes 4 years.

After being almost 4 years on the field, it feels like we speak reasonable good Thai. Don’t get it wrong, not perfect at all. But our neighbours and friends seem to understand us. We enjoy Thai company and it does not absorb all our energy anymore. The issue that seems to pop up more often at the moment is that I do not know what to do, think or say. Not because I lack language, but because I simply don’t know how to address a certain issue. Let me give one simple example. Two weeks ago we ‘agreed’ with most of other church attendees that we would do the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. The Thai believers talked about it, gave some arguments and it happened they concluded to do this every week. Fine to me.

The week after, the only person who was not there when the decision was made, said: ‘could we please do it once a month?’ All eyes turned to me. I did not make the decision, I’m fine with either way. Why looking at me? What do I say to be understanding, helpful, compromising in the Thai way. I couldn’t think of anything, so in a reflex I lifted my shoulders and said: ‘sorry, I don’t want to make this decision.’ How ignorant can I be?

But I was. Simply because after 4 years I did not yet know how to solve even the smallest issues. Thank God it seems I’m in long term mission.

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