This post is continuing a blog series on preparing for the mission field. In former posts we have surrender, serving in your local church, internships, deputation, arriving on the field, and a few other things along the way. This post is about setting up. The degree of setting up is really dependent on a lot of things. For example, some missionaries are able to ship a container of the things they already own. Some missionaries are not able to do so. This can depend on the country the missionary is going to or can be a decision made on preference. These sorts of decisions determine how involved setting up on the mission field will be. When we arrived in Argentina, we brought everything we could in duffle bags. We had to buy mattresses, kitchen items, a kitchen table, couches, coat hangers, an iron, etc.
So why is this so complicated? Well because the missionary is brand new to the field, most likely doesn’t know the language, nor how much things cost, or even where to go to buy such things. Here are some things to keep in mind while setting up…
- You are different, people know you are different, and people may take advantage of you because of that. Even if this happens, you need to keep the right attitude. Your family is watching and will share the same attitude toward the people that you do.
- They may not have exactly what you are “looking for”. We live in one of the largest cities in the world so you can find a lot of things here, but you may have to pay much more for it! Styles are different and the American style you are accustomed to may not be available.
- Rooms to Go may not be an option. In many countries, when you buy a couch or a kitchen table, they have to make it. I quickly learned that when we were told that it would be 2-3 weeks, that meant 1-2 months. You may find that no one is in hurry. It is just going to take time.
- If you ship a container, you may find out that there are added fees for getting the container out of the port in your new country. The shipping country will make promises and many times they may be right, but sometimes the guys working at the port see an opportunity to make some extra cash. If this happens, the best option is to pay them, get the container, and move on. You will lose any argument with them, and if you leave it in the port because they didn’t resolve it, you may end up having to pay a storage fee. Just pay it and move on.
There is a way around this. It is a huge help to have someone on the field (like a veteran missionary) who can help guide you. That makes the whole process much smoother. It is best to get everything set up before starting language school. This can be a really fun time, or it can be miserable, you decide how it will be. So be ready, be patient, and try to keep a good outlook.