A few months ago I set up an email account for the VWM, and, I gotta admit, checking it gives me butterflies in my stomach. I just never know what I’m gonna get – sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes it sucks. This week I got… this:
Dear Jamie the Very Worst Missionary,
I was so glad to read your blog. I never read blogs. I think they are a waste of time.
But I was happy to read yours. I always thought I was bad missionary. But you are way worse than me. Just the fact that I never use the words: “bitches, big-ass, and shitload” in my newsletters makes me automatically better than you.
I wasn’t knocked up at 17. Heck, I’ve never even been…knocked. I’ve always played by the rules and I’m waiting until I’m married. I’m 36 years old so it’s looking like I might be celibate my whole life. Hollywood wants the movie rights, but I would never give it to them. Since they are all going to hell.
I’ve never been drunk and wouldn’t even think about making my own beer. (I’m gaining heap-loads of points on you by the minute).
I’ve been to seminary. Where have you been? Besides around the block.
I have no unusual piercings or tattoos. What are you…in a gang or something?
I’m a missionary in a country that is poor-er than yours. Costa Rica is the Beverly Hills of Central America. Don’t you know that? Honduras is like the Cabrini Green.
(I am soooo winning this.)
My Spanish is really good. Some people say that I don’t even sound like a gringa when I talk.
Don’t you wish you were more like me?
My name is Michelle. The very good missionary.
Funny thing though…
As near-perfect as I have always been something strange has come out since becoming a missionary, nearly 9 years ago. I’ve always been so extremely…good. I’ve always been very…nice.
But the truth is…I’m not very nice anymore.
I never knew what it meant to hate someone…really hate someone…until a few years ago. While being a missionary.
I never knew bitterness…real soul-disturbing, I-desire-bad-things-for-your-
I’ve never known real anger, the kind that has me thinking, albeit never saying (that would ruin my Pollyanna reputation) those words you so easily throw out. Though you will never hear me say it, I curse people in my heart. Ever since being a missionary.
I’m also jealous and envious. Both of them. At.the.same.time. Never realized it…until becoming a missionary.
I’ve also been known to be quite judgmental. I’m not really sure why everyone around me is so immature. Obviously, they can’t hear from God living the way they do. (It’s been awhile since I’ve heard from God too. Even being a missionary.)
I used to love spending time in prayer and going to church. Now on Sundays, I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to go to church. And I struggle immensely trying to pray. Once I said “I hate praying” in front of my missionary advisor. (I hope he didn’t hear me. That would not be good.) Sometimes in prayer meetings I find myself wishing in my mind that the people around me would just shut up and say ‘amen’ already to their long, pious, stupid prayers so that I can go home and go to sleep. I never used to be this way…not until becoming a missionary.
And pride, well, you may not have noticed this yet, but sometimes I think I’m better than other people. Sometimes I think I know more than other people. Especially when they are really poor and don’t know how to read or write. And I think I can teach them something, since I know things. I know a lot of things. A lot of good it does me since I can’t seem to live it out…since becoming a missionary.
Being a missionary does weird things to you.
I know. I’ve been one longer than you.
So, see. I’m still winning.
So, what do you think?
I’ll tell you that by “Don’t you wish you were more like me?“, my blood was boiling. I was getting ready to break somethin’ off. (Sorry, condescension and insults make me go all ghetto.) I was like, “Is this a joke? What the hell? Seriously, what. the. hell….” But I kept reading and I’m so glad, because when Michelle pulled back the facade on her seemingly perfect exterior, I really liked who I saw. I liked her humanness and I felt connected to her in a way that maybe only two bitter, judgmental missionaries can connect. And my heart hurt for her, and for the ugly things that being a missionary has taught her. And my soul ached a little for me, too, and for the ‘good’ life I could have lived. And then it rejoiced for where we both are today, for who we both are…. and, mostly, for how God is still present with us in this wilderness.
Thank you, Michelle the Very Best Missionary, for your letter. Thank you for pointing a clever finger at the absurdities of this world, the ridiculousness of our own perceived better-ness, and the weird things being a missionary does to you. I love you, sister!
Also? It seems I’ve found my Bizarro Missionary. (Michelle probably doesn’t even know what that is because I bet she’s too good for Seinfeld….and Superman. So I linked it. Twice. Not that I feel any insane need to corrupt her and bring her over to the dark side, but if I did, I would start with Seinfeld. It’s like the gateway drug into questionable humor and pop-culture.)