So you love a missionary... Thoughts on loving well across the miles.
With 76 ministry partners in cities, towns, and villages all across the globe, we know a little something about how to keep up long term relationships! This comes naturally for some of us and takes a little more work for others. Either way, a little bit of intentionality can go a long way, this doesn't have to be rocket science! Here are a few tips for sharing your heart with someone far away.
- Written Encouragement - Many locations across the globe have inconsistent mail delivery options, so letters aren't always an option. But email or Facebook messenger certainly are! Don't know what to say? Include a verse you've been memorizing, a short prayer of encouragement for them and their ministry, or one of your favorite memories of them. Allow this to be a time of focusing on them and loving them by giving them your full attention. Ask them specific questions about their ministry, the health of their spouse or child, or how you can pray for them this week.
- Small Personal Touches - If you take 5 minutes to write a note of encouragement to your loved one, consider attaching a photo of you or your family holding a handmade sign that says "we love you!" or a few different photos of your kids in their natural element. Invite your loved one into your day to day life by including photos of your garden, new office, or a puzzle you've finished up lately. Or take a short 1-2 minute video of your smiling face telling them what you're up to and how much you love them! These small extra efforts really add up!
-Take Notes - Did your loved one mention that they have been missing snickers bars because they can't get them where they live? Did they mention that they ruined their favorite pair of socks or that their journals always run out before they get back to the states to buy a new one? Keep a running list in your notes app on your phone. Then, next time they are home, have a small gift bag ready for them including those items! You won't have to wonder what to include, because you're a superhero friend who made notes over the last 18 months of communication, and you already know!
(Pro Tip: If you don't live near where they will be staying when they travel back to the states, find out who they will be staying with and send the package to their home. This isn't complicated, but it does take a little planning and intentionality.)
-Be a Grace Giver - sometimes the best way to love through the miles is to say "I love you even when you're busy." Many times communication doesn't come naturally to the missionaries serving overseas. Or they are so swamped on their visits home trying to please everyone who wants a piece of their time, that you choosing to not add to the noise may be the best way to love them. If they can't fit you in, tell them you aren't offended and you will see them next time. When you give grace, you become a soft spot to land. This breeds loyalty and trust. Give the gift of space and grace!
- Make a Commitment - One person we know Skype's with nieces across the ocean once a week to read a chapter book aloud. She reads for a little bit and then asks them about their week. This doesn't take long, but it keeps up relationships AND gives her sister a window of time to get other things done around the house without kids under her feet. One supporter has spent time praying at a specific time each week for a family of missionaries in another country. It doesn't have to be a big-time commitment, but when you commit yourself to your loved one in these ways, it provides a sense of solidarity and true camaraderie.
Do you have more tactics you employ to show your love across the miles? We would love to hear your thoughts! Click below to share your ideas!