During our time in training we spent quite a bit of time on the tensions that missionaries face. The tension of culture is a big one, because as a missionary you are bringing with you the culture you came from and are living into the culture of your new home. Liz and I have both experienced this already during our time in Tanzania and I don’t think it will go away any time soon. There is also the ever present tension of trying to offer or be a witness to God’s kingdom (God’s culture) in the world (other culture). None of these tensions are an either or thing and so they never get resolved. We will always continue to live in these tensions. However, the ending of our missionary training brought with it a feeling, not of tension, but of wholeness.
On April 29th we finished our training by being commissioned as missionaries. Commissioning is a time of blessing, a time of recognition, but most importantly of all a time of being sent. Being sent by the Church, God’s body for action in the world, and hopefully being sent by God, with God’s blessing and spirit. The marks of sending, the blessing of the bishop, the vesting with the anchor cross (the symbol of Global Ministries), the celebration of God’s role in our lives with songs like, “I’m gonna live so God can use me.”, and the hugs and congratulations of family and fellow missionaries, including other missionaries from Tanzania, were all present. It was an amazing time. But what brings a feeling of wholeness is not just being sent, but being received. We know the people that we have been prepared to serve, we know the churches we have been sent to, and we have witnessed the spirit of God already present in the places and people that we have been blessed to work with.
Liz and I are excited, almost anxious to be returning to Tanzania. We are excited to be reunited with friends and our extended family of God’s children. We are excited about being able to carry on the ministry God has gifted us with, and we feel more prepared and ready then before.