Homeschooling Katie and Tim, I've tried to emphasize to them the importance of missions by reading missions biographies, which I think surpass any fictional or secular adventure story they can read...because God is orchestrating the whole thing. I think I've done better at presenting it to Katie, who was interested from the time she was quite young--and to this day I wouldn't be at all surprised if she did go overseas somewhere. She and I originated and ran a missions reading program one summer in the church we attended at the time. It ended up being participated in by most of the children of the church, and it was very gratifying to see the kids gobble up the reading opportunities there.
I also entertained the idea of us as a family being missionaries, though Gary has never been ready so far when I suggested it, even though for a while we were on a missions committee in one church. I liked to think that I was of the missionary variety of Christian...yet if God willed it so, He would have moved Gary's and my hearts at the same time to do the same thing. At this point, I can't really leave the family for any missions trips on my own; Tim needs me to homeschool him, though Gary probably could get by without me otherwise for at least a while some day...I would hope.
As time goes on, I am more dismayed by the thought of just how difficult the various discomforts would be. Maybe it's age making me love comfort more, aware that my pains are more easily jarred as I age. I am also perturbed that I'm not the most gifted at loving every neighbor or at least at keeping on great terms, especially with those who are difficult in various ways--I'm more aware of that in this neighborhood than any previous. That is to my shame, but I haven't yet overcome my ineptitude there.
Then today, I looked up into the skylight and saw three different types of spiders up there...and realized that they were probably nothing compared with some you'd see in more tropical climates. Somewhere else, perhaps there'd be a tarantula, a scorpion and a boa constrictor, or some such thing, and I think how much I prefer our three little spiders.
Those considerations are no doubt only a small portion of what many missionaries face. I was listening to a chapel sermon from my daughter's college the other day. The man spoke in a whisper as a result of serving as a missionary in Central America, where the drug trade and other matters make it a potentially violent place to be. His whisper came about from being shot in the neck when he drove by someone who mistook him for an enemy. Nevertheless, he wasn't giving up on that work. He glorified God in that circumstance as well.
I know that missionaries are also merely human and do the work through God's power and not their own. Our pastor led a group of four people way into Siberia on a short-term missions trip. It was strenuous in every way, and the demands the people made upon them when they got there were continual--yet they all came home pretty much as healthy as when they left, and had accomplished much in that short time! How else are these people in remote places going to be reached with the gospel? How much should a person love comfort, or coddle their own weaknesses, or worry about safety? Our weaknesses show a window for God's strength to shine through, and where God's will for us is, is where we ought to be even if seemingly bad things befall us. Maybe God can still use me for missions someday.
Because I am aware of the validity of missions, I will continue to try to interest Tim in these biographies which we will read together, hoping that he will consider missions work himself. I had almost forgotten my two favorite small children's missions stories that I really need to bring to church to share in the nursery and Sunday school classes: "Granny Han's Breakfast" and "Ian and the Gigantic Leafy Obstacle." They are short, amazing stories that show God's omnipotence and provision, and maybe some other little child will get a little idea of being a missionary someday too.
I hope that even if I am old before I get the chance, that if the opportunity presents itself, I will, in spite of any aches or pains, stretch myself out to my full short height, wave my hand up high, standing on tiptoe, and call out with an eager, toothless and wrinkled smile, "Here I am, send me!"