We just got asked THAT question again... you know, the dreaded "What does a typical day look like for you guys?"
Never fails. A well-meaning, really interested person asks THAT question and I can't contain the laugh that always follows. Then I feel horrible because the person really does want to know, and they have no idea that it is an impossible question to answer. There just is NOT an answer to this one.
Billy responded with, "Well, we wake up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and have our quiet time and coffee before Sarah wakes up. Sarah gets up at 7:30 and we have breakfast and get her ready for school. We drop her off at school at 9 a.m. That's the end of 'typical' in our lives. After 9 a.m., it's a free-for-all. Who knows what each day will bring?!"
It's true. That is about the end of 'typical' or routine for us. It's hard. It's hard to never know exactly what the day will bring. Sometimes, I really long for my life back in the States when I knew that every day had a schedule that I could predict and count on. My mom-duties were defined each morning. My career job had a definite beginning and ending time. My afternoons were defined by more mom-duties or scheduled events for school or sports or church. Scheduled... as in an event that has a time frame! Guess what folks - the majority of the rest of the globe does NOT function like that! Sometimes I really miss that part of my culture.
In the USA, I could pretty much count on the fact that the outside-my-house world stopped turning in the evening. My family counted on dinner being at 7 or 7:30. Family time, hanging out in the house... all evening-time things that were routine and normal for us.
Not so in I'm-A-Missionary-World. At least it hasn't been that way for us, no matter where we have lived. Costa Rica, Peru, or Spain... there isn't anything routine or normal about any day except for the fact that you can count on it NOT being typical or routine! Atypical IS our normal!
So, what DO our days look like if they aren't typical? Well, we usually start out by having our day loosely penciled on our calendar. And I mean loosely in the most loose way. We don't hold much of anything too tightly, as far as schedules go. An actual meeting time is definite, but other things are flexible and floating.
In Spanish culture, many important things happen over coffee in a street cafe or in someone's living room. Therefore, if we are asked to have coffee with someone, that will most likely take high priority. Relationships are built or broken over your availability for coffee! Or in the evening, over your willingness to sit and talk over a glass of wine or a beer. Spain... gotta love a culture that does business over coffee (a.m.) or wine (p.m.)!
If we don't have a coffee date, and if we don't have pressing business to attend to in town, we try to hit the home office for a couple of hours in the morning while Sarah is at school. This usually consists of Skype calls or computer conferences with other missionaries who we are caring for in one way or another - coaching, mentoring, or counseling. But morning conferences can only consist of people who live on 'our side' of the Atlantic (Africa, Europe, Middle East, or Asia) because of time zone differences.
We pick up Sarah from school at 2:00, then head back home for lunch - the Spanish generally eat lunch at 3pm. Sarah hits the books after lunch, and we hit the office again for calls and conferences with peers on the other side of the Atlantic (USA, South America, and Central America). Because of the time difference, these meetings might take place any time between 3pm and 9pm for us. Those 9pm meetings make for a LATE night and a LONG work day for us. If there are no conferences to be had for a particular day, we catch up on paperwork, study, or preparing our lessons for disciple groups and Sunday School classes that we lead.
Somewhere in there, Billy will meet up with his language helper and culture tutor for a couple of hours each week. We will run different errands in town. We'll have a Spanish coaching session or a meeting with the pastor. We'll have an hour or so with another missionary couple - peer encouragement, community time, mentoring, etc. I will drive to Campillos to work with a women's cell group bible study. A prayer meeting or two will occur. Sarah will have extracurricular activities that we will need to attend. And I will spend a couple of hours once a week with my Spanish quilting group (always a huge lesson in culture and women's issues!).
So, there you have it. Our 'normal' (ha ha ha) life. :)
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the princess Sarah (13) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in el campo in Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!