Lessons on Character

shower head in haiti“I could never do what you do!” This is a refrain that my husband and I heard many times as we shared with ministry partners back in the United States while on furlough last year. I am guessing that what most people were referring to was the sacrifice involved in being a missionary—leaving home and family to move overseas and deal with critters, hurricanes, electricity blackouts, and other less-than-fun elements of missionary life.

I can definitely understand this point of view. Some (okay, most!) days, life on the mission field has zero glamour and is just plain. hard. work. And sometimes I question my ability to do what I do, too! Does that construction generator really have to run right outside my gate all day for weeks on end? How are rats finding their way back into my kitchen again? Will I ever have a night where I’m not woken up by roosters, goats, dogs, or gunshots? It’s all too easy to become frustrated and give in to my complaining spirit!

And yet, as time has passed, I have realized that I wouldn’t trade these difficulties for the world (with perhaps the exception of tarantulas in my yard… they could go!). It is these very hardships that are shaping my character into that of Christ.

Power out again? I can be grateful that we have a generator. Water truck doesn’t show up until after bedtime again? A chance to practice being gracious. Yet another rap rap rap on my gate, with yet another request for money? I can grow my spirit of generosity. Not enough power to run the water pump, leaving me with a sad little trickle of a shower? A call to prayer for those who don’t have running water. Feeling homesick and missing my family? The Father gently reminds me that my real home is in heaven.

Each time I’m faced with a challenge, I have a choice. Will I choose to complain, or grow?

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