“We have chosen to live in a way that if God doesn’t show up, we’re stuffed.”Steve Poulson
“Missionary” – is that even a thing any more?
We may have our own ideas of what it looks like. But what is it actually like when you get there?
We met up with couples Jen and Kevin and Lindsey and Steve to get an inside view.
JEN CABLE: When we first arrived in Jerusalem, we were very tired. The buildup to coming here included both of us leaving our full time jobs and going straight into the CMS training.
KEVIN CABLE: We flew in during the recent troubles. So there were still projectiles, shall we say, being propelled from both sides. So we flew in in the uncertainty of that. We almost didn’t get in at all because of that.
JEN CABLE: And we’ve been really thankful that we’ve had some time just to relax, first of all, and just to get used to our surroundings before we get more involved in the mission.
LINDSEY POULSON: We are actually traveLling, doing some support raising and family visiting pretty soon after we got married. And so not only are we adjusting to our relationship as being married, but we’re also not in our even single culture anymore or our routines that we were in as single missionaries.
STEVE POULSON: And not only do we live across culturally, but our relationship is cross cultural. So, you know, it’s not like we’re coming from the same place, serving in a different place. We’re coming from different places, serving in a different place. And so that… in some ways helps, but in some ways makes it even more challenging.
LINDSEY POULSON: It feels very out of control, but it also feels exciting and safe at the same time, because I don’t have to do it by myself, not only because the Lord is with me, but so is he now. And so we get to kind of navigate it together.
JEN CABLE: The culture is so different. That everything that you want to do is not straightforward and so different. So, you know, it’s not only the language, it’s where you walk. It’s how you walk. It’s what you wear when you’re walking. You just feel vulnerable and isolated because you’re not in control in the same way of your general lifestyle and your day to day living. And so with those things taken away that normally your safe go to, there’d be many times to start with where one of us is pulling the other one back from the pavement because we looked the wrong way crossing the road. And it’s things like that. And then you start thinking, oh, gosh, I can’t even walk outside the front door without having to think 20 times.
KEVIN CABLE: Amazon and the lack of Amazon. I know people have different views on Amazon as a company. But, you know, especially during lockdown, you want something, it’s there the next day or in a few days, you’ve not going to hunt around if you will ask for it. It’s convenient. It’s quick. There is nothing like that here. And in fact, you discover quite quickly that it is just so much slower, everything here.
LINDSEY POULSON: The decision to step away from the more stable teaching job and do full time ministry. And I was on my own for several years. And so constantly having to push past my fear of I don’t know how this is going to turn out. I don’t even fully know what I’m doing. But I know that the Lord is calling me to take this step and connect with these people and do this next thing.
STEVE POULSON: In Honduras, we were very strictly locked down for eight months and we allowed out one day every two weeks. That big change from being very insular and with just my housemates, three of us, to suddenly being married and then visiting all these people and all this new family that I have. I think that’s very much taken me out of my comfort zone that I was in for almost a year.
We’ve been working on rhythm and trying to establish rhythm when we have no routine, so, for example, the way we wake up in the mornings together, even though we’re in different places, even though it’s a different time, every day, we do the same thing. And that’s given us a certain sense of rhythm, time together, time with the Lord together. And that has been really valuable. And we’ve been here for about a month and we’ve been to eight different states. How do we do life on the move? And also not have the attitude of, well, like we’ll go back to normal in January when we’re back in Honduras, because that means that now is not normal, that now is this is what this is our life. This is normal for us. And we need to work out what does being at home mean when we’re on the move? Because assuming we continue being mission partners for several more years, this kind of thing will happen periodically. And so we need to learn to be at home on the move. And that’s, I think, outside of our comfort zone at the moment.
JEN CABLE: I think some of the things that we have done which have helped us to sort of get through that is maintaining our… well certainly maintaining our own spirituality in this time. And that, of course, has been the prime way for us to stay grounded. And we both do that in different ways. And for me, that’s been keeping up with prayer partners in the UK. So each week I have a prayer zoom with prayer partner that I’ve had for a while, and I’ll be listening to sermons online as well, so that I’ve been getting that spiritually in touch. And you’ve been doing that differently.
KEVIN CABLE: Yeah. So I’m a Benedictine Oblate with one of the Benedictine abbeys in the UK, and they have a very regimented set pattern of prayer. And also when I trained to be a priest. And went to theological college, that’s pretty ground into you. You don’t let those set prayer times in the day slip. And as in parish ministry in the UK, here that’s been a bedrock because it doesn’t matter how I felt or feel. I’m going to say my morning prayers do my Bible study in the pattern that I use. And it does make a difference.
And the most important thing is the dog, who is here.
JEN CABLE: It’s making sure that we keep up with our exercise as well. So that’s been really good.
KEVIN CABLE: We’re the fittest we’ve ever been. Because we haven’t got a car, you know, our day off is on the Sabbath where everything stops, including public transport. You’ve got to walk.
STEVE POULSON: I think being emotionally healthy is about good communication, both with God and with each other and with oneself. I guess would be a way to put that. And recognising when when you need time just to rest or time away. And also, I think remembering what’s the ultimate goal in what we’re doing.
We have chosen to live in a way that if God doesn’t show up, we’re stuffed. And how that works out, how that manifests in each person’s life will be different. We’re just doing what we can and scrabbling around and getting on with it. And the really good stuff is, is what God is doing. And we can see that in in the ministry. We can see that in our marriage. We can see that in whatever’s going on. We’re just doing what we can. And then God does the good stuff.