Stress leads to confusion. Deciding on living and serving in another country as a missionary provides a fertile breeding ground for the mind losing control of the simplest of thought processes. Few can imagine the stress that a missionary experiences in terms leaving one’s family and finding new connections in a different culture. The impact is disarming and involves a lot of grief, new learning curves, adjustments in food, culture, and language; and the list goes ad infinitum.
No one likes to play the fool unless that person gets off on playing the role of the clown. But, a missionary becomes the object of a lot jokes and unexpected behaviors. Imagine, asking someone for a beso when the correct word is vaso, only to find out you have asked for a kiss and not a cup.
While preparing for a year of intensive language study in Costa Rica, the logistics of selling/giving away our property and possessions, the grief of saying goodbye to family and friends, changing addresses on all official correspondence, and packing for life in both Costa Rica and Colombia overwhelmed me. Just the pressure of doing so many things in an unreasonably short time, will drive you close to the edge of emotional chaos.
The day arrived for us to leave the Nashville airport for San Jose, Costa Rica. Some Japanese missionaries, several close family members, and a few friends went to bid us farewell. The airlines allowed people to go as far as the departure gate in those days. David, our oldest son, was only one at the time. Emotions ran high. Everyone knew it would be four years before we would see one another again. We had heard the last call to board the airplane. So, everyone was hugging and kissing. Suddenly I noticed that David, our one year infant, had disappeared. I surmised that he had wandered off. I panicked. I think I shouted to the group, “Where is David?”
Someone responded, “What’s your problem, Bob, he’s in your arms.”