Sunday, June 16, 2013

Your Friendly Neighborhood Missionary


My name is Amy.

I am coming to a church or a neighborhood or a coffee shop near you.

For the first time in 8 years, I'm going to have the time to do more than just hug you or shake your hand or comment on how much your kids have grown. 

I'm really, really excited about this.  But can I tell you a secret?  I'm also pretty nervous.

I am an introvert and initiating relationships is hard for me.  I've come a loooong way since high school, when practically everyone intimidated me.  The nature of my job has forced me to get better at initiating conversations.  And here in Tanzania, I'm pretty good at it by now, because I've lived here a long time and I am comfortable here. 

But the thought of living in America and getting to know American people?  Kind of scary for me. 

Because I know I will be the oddball.  I don't know anything about online banking or cell phone plans or what kids' programs are offered at the YMCA.  I'm terrible with fashion and make-up and making myself look American.  I feel strange using credit cards instead of cash and I haven't pumped my own gas in years. 

And I know from past trips home that people don't often really know what to do with me.  I'm not sure if it's because I am an oddball, or if it's because I am a missionary and therefore not really human. 

So can I just get a couple things out in the open right now?

I want to be your friend.  Promise.  And I am really going to make the effort, but if there are times when you are wondering whether or not I want to be invited to that women's event or baby shower or scrapbooking party or whatever, let me tell you this now:  YES, I want to come.

I want to connect with you.  We are missionaries to Tanzania, but we are not immigrants to Tanzania.  There is a big difference, because it means that California still is our home and we want to maintain a connection there. 

I love to talk about Africa.  But sometimes people seem intimidated to ask us anything about it.  I think that's because they don't want to seem ignorant or they don't want to admit that they actually haven't been reading our email updates.  But seriously, that's okay with us.  I don't remember everything from your Christmas letters.  I'll probably ask you for the names of your kids more than once.  We don't expect you to remember everything about us either. 

I love talking to kids about Africa, because they have no inhibitions.  They ask, Do you live with lions?  We love those questions.  Adults think it, but they don't ask it.  Go ahead and ask.  We won't think you're stupid. 

And if you don't want to talk about Africa, I'm okay with that too.  I just want to get to know you.  I've watched all the seasons of Downton Abbey and The Office and Modern Family.  I follow U.S. news and politics, so we can talk about those things.  Honestly, as I think about these last few years, the hardest part has simply been being a mom to small children.  I've got 16 years of Africa stuffed inside me, so I know that makes me different.  But we probably have more in common than you think.

So....will you be my friend?

Thanks.  Can't wait to hang out with you.

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