A couple of weeks ago, the pastor of our local church said something about, “living life between the spectaculars.”
It struck me.
This is the life of a missionary.
We live day-to-day lives.. always looking for and hoping for the Spectaculars that people want to hear and read about. But there is a whole lot of life that happens between the Spectaculars.
Case in point: Matt broke his wrist. Okay, in its own right, this is a bit spectacular… but not the soul-saving, gospel-preaching, miracle-witnessing kind of Spectacular.
It’s just a fifteen-year-old-boy-getting-hit-with-a-soccer-ball kind of Spectacular.
In Fresno, we would have gone to one of the local clinics. The doctor would put a cast on it and sent us home with information. In English. Done.
Now, rewind that scene and push “pause.” Yank out the Fresno setting and swap it with a German one. Hit “language options” on the menu and switch it to “German.” And for kicks, throw in some German subtitles. Now hit “play.”
We’ve never had to use our insurance. Where do we begin? We call friends and get advice. Matt and Jeremy head to the hospital and return with x-rays of a broken wrist, a form with a bunch of German doctoral script, and an appointment card with a separate form marking a local doctor. The nurses and doctors would not speak English with Jeremy (which we understand, we do live in Germany) though one of those same nurses would speak English with Matt. Fine.
Jeremy tells me that Matt has an appointment at the local doctor on Wednesday.
I take Matt out of school and we go to the doctor.
So we go back a half hour later.
The secretary (all in German) says that we don’t have an appointment. That the appointment was at the hospital (20 minutes away). She calls the hospital to verify. Yep, missed the appointment.
We go home and I call the hospital to reschedule the appointment. They tell me that I need to get a certain form from the local doctor.
I go for a THIRD time to the doctor. “I know what you need,” she says. Well, yes, I needed it the first two times too. But alas. I sit and wait and get the special form that I will take to the newly scheduled appointment at the hospital on Monday.
Less than Spectacular.
I haven’t even mentioned what it took that same day to get Jeremy’s pay-as-you-go cheapy cell phone working.
Everything. Takes. Longer.
And sometimes we still don’t understand it when we get through it all.
Like, the hospital doctor probably told Jeremy, “You have a follow-up appointment here at the hospital. Before you come, go to your local doctor. Here’s a sheet with her name and address. Get the validation form from her and bring it with you to your appointment on Wednesday. Any questions?”
Jeremy heard: You have a follow-up appointment wuach wuich wuach wauch. Wuich wuach wuach, go to your doctor. Here is their address. Wuah wuich wuach wuach wuich wuich. Any questions? ”
What would have taken us an hour took us all day… and part of Monday too.
This is life between the Spectaculars.
It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s filled with big-eyed looks at a person whose words sound very important and who seems to be looking for a response. Our normal head nod and smile won’t do.
It’s filled with grocery shopping and hair cuts and mailing packages… in a foreign language. It’s filled with cooking and cleaning and homework.
It’s filled with curriculum planning and note-taking and meetings.
Life between the Spectaculars is full of whining kids and exhausted parents.
It’s filled with watching for when everyone else puts their garbage on the street. It’s filled with fear that the phone will ring and we won’t understand what they need. It’s filled with mail in the mailbox that we can’t read. It’s filled with German language classes (to help with all of the above).
Then along comes a Spectacular.
A client who says, “I don’t know how I would have made it without having your Counseling support.”
Or a parent who says, “You’re the first teacher who has understood my child. She loves learning now… and that’s new.”
Or German friends who invite us into their lives and invest more into our friendships.
Or nurturing and caring for a military kid who needs a home so he can attend BFA with his brother.
These are the Spectaculars that sandwich the day-to-day.
But without the day-to-day, there are no Spectaculars.
Without the trudging through translating each piece of word-ridden mail or figuring out taxes… there is no relationship with our German friends.
Without emptying the condenser in our dryer down a drain after each load, there is no counselor to see local missionaries.
Without picking up the socks and caring for the yard (during non-quiet hours) and budgeting for bills… there is no teacher for the students who need a Third Culture Teacher to teach and understand them.
The next Spectacular requires our attention and time in the present.
That special gift that is so often over-shadowed by the past and future Spectaculars.
The life between the Spectaculars.
This is why we choose to leap the hurdles of language barriers and cultural differences… to mature, grow, and embrace the day-to-day living that lead to a Spectacular victory.