There’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that somebody’s got your back... or your backside....
One of the perks of being a missionary is that you get to show off your country of residence when people visit. Being a missionary in Costa Rica means that you get to take people to see monkeys, and big crocodiles, and amazing beaches, and volcanoes, and stuff like that. Our favorite place to take people is a place called “Tres Pilas”, the “three sinks”. It’s a series of three small waterfalls that cascade one into another, and the “sinks” are the impossibly deep pools at the base of each fall.
This place is waaaay off the beaten path. Several miles into the date palm plantations on terrible dirt roads, and then farther, into the forrest, until you finally come to the front yard of a random house in the middle of nowhere. There, you pay the homeowner to park your car in her yard, and you ask permission to visit “the sinks”. You then have to make your way through a field, across a stream, through a cow-pasture (where there are several loose bulls ready to gore your face off) and then into the jungle where a muddy path will lead you to the waterfalls. It’s quite an adventure. And one of our favorite places on Earth.
A couple of years ago, we had an intern stay with us for a month, and we took him there, to Tres Pilas. He was a recent college graduate, a hobby photographer, and...*ahem*... a super good looking guy. (El Chupacabra can vouch for this. It’s just a fact.) Anyway, while we were there, I stayed down at the base, in the river below, laying on a big rock in the sun, and watching my youngest child play around in the biggest pool. The intern was crossing the river nearby, while carrying his very, very expensive camera, when his flip-flop slipped off and began floating rapidly down stream. He was helpless, and I was close, so, obviously, I jumped up and began picking my way down river on the very slimy rocks to retrieve the shoe. The thing is, it was really slippery, so I had to use both my hands and my feet, “Mowgli-style”, to move across the rocks. So there I was, rump in the air, chasing a flip-flop down river... in. a. bikini.
I’m sorry, but when you are trying not to slip and die, things like “sucking in”, and hiding cottage cheese thighs, they just fly right out the door.
In the end, I was successful...and mortified. I handed the intern’s wet shoe back to him and said, quite directly, “Now. Let’s never speak of this.” As far as I know, he’s kept his part of the bargain. (Of course, he probably pushed that image deep down, into the recesses of his mind in order to forget. But whatever.)
Sometimes, writing the Very Worst Missionary feels a lot like that. It makes me feel vulnerable, exposed. And, to be totally honest, I’m okay with that. It’s not for everybody. Bikini’s aren’t for everybody. And that’s okay.
When I went downriver after my friends shoe, it wasn’t my intent to offend him with the view *shudder*. In the same way, it’s never been my intent to offend anyone by exposing my heart. I write what I write because I feel there is a need. I’m truly sorry if it has offended some, if it has offended you.
Over the last couple of days, my inbox has been filled with responses to my last post. Mostly very encouraging, very supportive, very enthusiastic, two-thumbs-up kinds of notes from readers, and a few very kind, very secure, very oppositional letters. Naturally, the "pros" filled me with joy and the "cons" gave me a bit of dread, but, to everyone that took the time to share their thoughts on this somewhat sticky subject, I want to say THANK YOU!!
Many thanks to each and every one of you that have cheered me on! You’ve totally got my back! There really are no words to express what it feels like to have a group rallying behind you, urging you forward, seeing you for who you are and liking you anyway. That’s pretty cool. You guys are awesome.
But even more, a thousand times more, I want to say thanks to those who took the time to disagree. It takes guts to be the descending voice, and I love that in a person. It takes heart to say to someone, "you're wrong and here’s why”. And whether or not I ultimately agree with you, I admire your conviction. Thank you. I know that you’re coming from a place of love and concern, and in that, you’ve got my back. So, sincerely, thank you.
And I want to make it especially clear, that it is my privilege to be working with the sending agency that I work with. It’s no accident that we have each other. Their job is to look out for me; spiritually, physically and financially. I know, without a doubt, that the call I got the other day was coming out of love and protection. That’s their job. They’ve got my back. And for that, I want to say thank you, I love you, too.
Now. Let’s never speak of this again.
Just kidding. We can totally talk about this. I love this conversation. It needs to be had. So chime in if you’re still feelin’ it. You are welcome here.
Also, I haven’t forgotten about last weeks totally anti-climactic-cliff hangar. I promise, I’ll get to it. And again...thanks...