"So, what does a missionary do every day?" A valid question. We know a missionary's basic job is to tell people about Jesus and disciple them (Matt 28:19-20), but what does that look like on Monday? Thursday? or even Sunday? Do missionaries work normal hours?
If you've ever considered becoming a missionary, or if you're curious on how better to pray for one, maybe this can give a little clarity...Though no two weeks are ever the same, here's an example of what a week in the life of Marie Lea-Wilson may look like.
(Note: The pictures may not display correctly if viewed from a personal device such as a smart phone.)
6am Bible study and prayer time in the park beside my house
8am Make a breakfast smoothie, send messages to 2 local Deaf people, inviting them out for a meal later this week (to practice sign language and build relationships).
10am Drive to another missionary's home to teach their 3 children piano lessons.
12pm Drive home, make lunch, then prep for this week's sign language classes (powerpoint, props, etc).
3pm Take a cold shower (it's been heat index of >100 degrees, and most places have no A/C!)
4pm Attend our Missionary Team meeting (see picture)
6pm Call one of my brothers in the US, chat over dinner
8pm Read a book (in English).
5:30am Bible study and prayer time in the park beside my house... bring a stray dog back to its owner's home. Strike up a conversation, invite her to church.
8-11:30am Teach a Bible in sign language course (see picture) to a Honduran couple hoping to start a Deaf ministry
12pm Eat at a local (open air) restaurant on the way to the store, invite the owner and waitress to church.
1pm Grocery shopping and other errands, hand out several tracts, price some items for church.
4pm take a cold shower (another scorcher of a day!) Rest in A/C for 20 min.
5-8:30pm Dinner out with the Honduran couple and a Deaf couple for sign language practice. (See picture) They brought their 3 year old son along. I watch him in the playground area, giving those at the table an opportunity to practice sign language without their "teacher" present.
9pm Another cold shower before bed!
6am Bible study and prayer time inside... it's raining today.
8am-11:30 teach a Bible in sign language course to the same Honduran couple. The power goes out half-way through class. Thankfully my laptop and projector are battery-powered and charged. It just means no fans. We sweat a little more than usual (the rain means it's more humid than normal), and use my phone data for a wifi connection ("hotspot").
12pm I visit the Children's Home, on the church property, to pick up a costume I need in a future sign language class, and they feed me lunch (score!).
1pm Take a cold shower, sit in A/C while I answer messages I've received from Deaf people.
2-3:30pm Deaf ministry philosophy meeting (teaching the Honduran couple unique aspects of Deaf ministry). Sometimes it's a video we watch together (see picture). But today we're planning a trip to the capitol city to learn more sign language from a Deaf church, Deaf school (see picture) and the Honduran Deaf Association.
4-6pm Work on ministry financial reports... answer more Deaf messages... touch base with the 2 ladies I'm discipling... take some cookies to a neighbor who just had a baby... look online for sign language class props I'll need soon... wait in line at the local bank... answer an American Pastor's email inquiry... maybe even catch a nap!
7pm Church service (I occasionally play an offertory, see picture, or help out in a children's class, or maybe spend a few extra moments with a woman who needs to vent about a stressful situation at home). I chat with friends after the service until 9pm.
6am Bible study and prayer time in the park beside my house. Explain the Gospel to a new neighborhood guard.
9am Go back to bed... it's my day off!
10am Call a missionary friend in another country. Swap stories. Laugh. A lot. Pray together.
3pm Set some traps in my attic for the ubiquitous rodents crawling around.
5pm Call another brother.
7pm Take a cold "bucket shower." The water in our neighborhood is off since 4pm (happens occasionally... no explanation... grateful I'm not in the other local neighborhoods where water routinely shuts off 1-2x per day, or sometimes for days at a time).
9pm A fellow missionary calls: their child fell out of bed and is bleeding badly, can I accompany them to the clinic? Absolutely.
10pm I hold the bleeding child while the doctors stitch him up, (see picture) explaining/interpreting to the (new) missionaries what's going on... any foreign language is hard to follow when you're stressed. Once the child is stitched up and resting quietly, I message our Deaf teacher to see if he's available to teach the Sign Language grammar class Saturday morning. (See picture.) He isn't. Hm... I message our back-up teacher, but she doesn't have wifi... her power is probably out? I pray that she gets my video message soon. (If I want to make sure the Deaf person understands, I always send a video message, not a texted one. They are rarely fluent in written Spanish. ) Can't forget to invite the clinic doctors and nurses to church!
12am I get home and the water is back on. Yay!
7am Have an abbreviated Bible study and prayer time in my bedroom.
7:30 My disciple arrives (she lives a few blocks away and walks to my house). We talk about the lesson and several other topics for 2.5 hours. She handed out her first tract this week. We celebrate! I make breakfast for the two of us.
10am I drop by a neighbor's house who's fixing a ripped skirt for me. She's a church member and has heard about the Deaf ministry. She asks me all about it, tells me about her Deaf cousin, asks if I can go visit her? We exchange phone numbers, and I send the woman a message (see picture).
12pm I make lunch and check my attic traps. Marie: 2 Rats: 0
1-3pm I prep sign language class curriculum for next week, based on whatever the Honduran couple struggled with on Tuesday. I get a video message: the substitute Deaf teacher is available tomorrow!
4pm I meet up with the Honduran couple to go visit a Deaf woman. She lives in a different city. We discuss what we'll talk about and how to ask certain questions in sign language as we drive to the other city. But as we're on our way we get a call from the Deaf woman's mother. No dinner out tonight: the family was planning a birthday party, but the Deaf woman never knew. No one in the family knows sign language to communicate with her. She texts me a crying emoji... she can't express her disappointment in any written language, and will have to wait until the next time we meet to tell me what happened from her perspective (a video message doesn't allow enough time). I review some archived sign language videos on my phone with the Honduran couple, to practice "reading" sign language, not wanting to waste our time together. An hour in, their babysitter calls: their son is suddenly sick. We drive back. Just a touch of food poisoning. Already feeling better. Praise the Lord.
8pm I pop some popcorn and watch a movie at home.
6am Bible study and prayer time in the park beside my house. (picture of the sunrise on my walk to the park)
8:30am I meet up with the Sign Language grammar teacher, showing her all the powerpoint slides I've prepared for this class, explaining how to teach. (It may be worth mentioning that, she has never taught grammar. In fact, like all the other Deaf people in our city, she has never been taught grammar. I am teaching her just as much as she is teaching the Honduran couple... but if I don't train teachers, we will never have any. Super grateful I took sign language grammar classes in the US, and praying this extra work - of teaching the teacher how to teach - pays off.)
9-12:30pm Sign language grammar class. Well... it was supposed to happen. But due to the Honduran couple's son being sick yesterday, it's postponed 2 hours to give the mom a chance to sleep. I take the Deaf teacher out for breakfast. She asks me some questions about God. I direct her to some Bible verses, her Spanish isn't great. I go slowly, using signs to explain word for word, grammar, context, and all, until the lightbulb turns on in her head. She thanks me multiple times. So grateful I studied Spanish grammar before starting a Deaf ministry! I have been building a relationship with this woman for over a year. Looking forward to the opportunity to give her an official Bible study. On our way back to class I stop and pay for the next 6 months of home internet (you can't pay online). I give out tracts to several people there. The Deaf woman asks me what I'm doing. Another good conversation. We get to church a little late, finish class late.
12pm Lunch... well... didn't exactly happen today.
1pm I drive to my other disciple's home (see picture) and we have a Bible study. She has good questions about Biblical geography as we go through Genesis. Her grandmother is sick. We pray for her. Her mom asks if I'd like some lunch. God is good.
4pm I join our church's organized evangelism activity. This week we're handing out John/Romans booklets in the city center (see picture on left). We find a deaf person! He looks in his mid 30's, but he doesn't know any sign language. I wonder if he knows his own name? We give him a tract to take home to his family. He can't tell me where he lives or how to contact his family, of course. I use gestures to communicate "church." (see picture on right) He smiles and gives a thumbs up. I pray we will see him again.
6pm I make dinner, do laundry, and send messages to Deaf people about meals out next week.
7pm I video-call a couple in the States. We chat about once a month. I go on and on about what I'm doing, usually while eating a late dinner. They listen. We pray together. I thank God for their encouragement.
8:30pm I get a text from a fellow missionary... word on the street is that political protests are planned for tomorrow. Protests target bridges, purposefully blocking traffic, and can be protesting any one of a range of current political corruption complaints. We tentatively plan to follow normal routine, but keep our eyes and ears open.
5:30am Bible study and prayer time in the park beside my house. Another neighborhood guard comes by. He starts chatting, tells me the protests have been postponed for another day.... and keeps chatting... he asks me if I live alone? If I'm married? Can I teach him English? I give him vague answers, excuse myself and finish my prayer time inside.
10am-12pm Church. I'm not consistently serving in any Sunday morning ministry, as Deaf people will occasionally show up, and - until the Honduran couple are able to interpret - I'm the only interpreter, and need to be available (see picture). Today no Deaf show up. I enjoy just taking in the sermon, the songs, the fellowship. The power goes out briefly during the service. No one acts surprised. A stray cat walks in through the open door. The ushers quietly escort it out. After church an usher asks me to take his blood pressure, it's slightly elevated, but better than last time. I ask about his meds, and answer his questions about diet.
1-4pm Cold shower, lunch, nap, and I put the final touches on the sign language class powerpoint. This is a separate sign language class from the one taught during the week. It is open to interested church members. Five students have enrolled.
4:30pm I go to church and prep the Deaf teacher on the powerpoint. He's taught these classes before to the Honduran couple 4 months ago, so I'm beginning to reap some rewards for the hours I've spend teaching him how to teach grammar. He gives some editing suggestions, we adjust the powerpoint a little, and the other students arrive.
5-7:30pm Sign language class goes well. (Picture on left) We create review videos of all the vocabulary taught that day, and send them out via text messages to the students. (Picture on right)
8pm My neighbor invites me over for a late dinner. I am so grateful! Super hungry, but too tired to cook. We chat, I cool off in front of her fan, and we hug goodnight before I go home for one more cold shower and a good night's sleep.
Piano lessons tomorrow!