An abridged article from our friends at SEND
Written by Josie Oldenburg
As the summer travel season creeps up, perhaps you plan to use your hard-earned vacation days to visit a missionary….I’m sure you want to be — and will be! — a delightful houseguest. Here are some tips that hopefully will help you deliver encouragement (not embarrassment) and joy during your stay (not joy once you’ve gone).
Ask if there’s anything you can bring. Missionaries often keep a running list of “things I need from back home” going in their heads (or, in my case, on my refrigerator). Some items — certain medications, new ATM cards, packages of pepperoni — are best carried over by hand. Baggage restrictions are brutal these days, but do try to carve out a little space for needed items that will bless the missionary.
Dress appropriately. Different cultures have different modesty standards, and you’ll want to ask your host about those. But don’t neglect to ask about socio-economic standards, too. If you hostess doesn’t wear her diamond ring because none of her national friends have one, perhaps you could slip yours off during your visit, too?
Expect kids to be kids. You’ve perhaps only seen your host’s children on home service, when they’re on their best behavior during church events. But now you’re in their world, and you might witness a meltdown or a sibling spat or some disrespectful speech during your visit. Changes — even little changes, like sharing their parents with a houseguest — can be emotional for little guys and gals, and they might just show their stress through not-so-stellar behavior. Give the family time and space to work through such incidents.
Pay attention. When you walk into a house, does everyone else take their shoes off? Kick off your kicks, too — and hope that you wore your good socks. If you’re at church, notice where people are placing their Bibles. If no one else’s Bible is on the ground, make sure yours isn’t, either.
Basically, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Or, as the Russians say, “Don’t go to another monastery with your own rules.” Or, in Polish: “When among the crows, caw as the crows do.” Or, in Czech: “If you want to live with wolves, you must howl like them.” You get the picture.
Realize that you’re not seeing real life. Your hosts want to show you the very best of their community. They want you to have fun and to see the sites. But make clear that you’re happy to join them in their real life, too. Ask if you can go to church with them, play with their younger kids so they can help older kids with homework, pick up something at the market, or be a conversation partner at their English club. They might say no. They might need a week that’s kind of vacation-y. But don’t leave thinking that they’re living the high life, just because they showed you the highlights.
These tips and more can be found in the full article at http://www.themissionsblog.org/how-to-be-a-good-missionary-houseguest/ .