As the plane touches down on the tarmac you can barely contain yourself. What is this going to be like? Maybe you visited the country on a survey trip or a missions trip some years ago. Perhaps you are thinking of all the wonderful memories from that trip. Maybe you are thinking of how beautiful all the pictures you saw of this country you will now call home. You get off the plane, grab all of your stuff and start the process of leaving the secured area of the airport.
Everything is beautiful (or in some cases maybe it isn’t as beautiful as you imagined). For about a month you may love everything about it. But soon, things start to change. This beautiful country is not so beautiful anymore. These sweet people are now taking advantage of you, the foreigner. The pictures you saw never expressed such dishonesty. The water makes you sick, the food that was so good the first few weeks just isn’t like the food “back home”. The dream starts to turn into a nightmare because you realize that this isn’t a 2 week mission trip, this is now your life.
What I am describing happens. The missionary’s dream of the mission field is just not the reality. So how can we combat this? I think the very best way is a 6 month internship with a veteran missionary. I know this seems like it “slows things down” on the missionary’s timeline. But this will prepare him and his family for what real life on the mission field really is. I can tell you that the above story was not our families experience, and I can tell you the reason for that was because of our internship. My family and I completed an internship in Peru/Chile in 2012. We learned a lot. We lived the good and the bad. We experienced the sickness from the water (not fun), we enjoyed the incredible food, we understood what it meant to miss family and friends back in the States, we lived our lives on the mission field. This prepared us for our ministry here in Argentina in so many ways. When we landed in Argentina, we did not have unrealistic expectations of how life would be, we knew what we were walking into, at least as much as one can know.
With that in mind, one of the ways you can prepare is by reading. I have heard statistics that claim very few read much after they graduate from high school and college. I hope that is not true. We grow by reading. Now the question is what books to read…