The World’s Greatest Missionaries

— The greatest missionaries of all time —
He has taught me to never give up, to hold onto dreams
even when they’re broken, when others scoff in disappointment.  He doesn’t have a college degree, but he doesn’t
need one to be something or someone important.  He built his future with his hands, built a house,
built a family, built a legacy of what it means to live a life of commitment,
no matter the cost.
She has taught me that mission work is an everyday
opportunity, whether staying on the phone for hours listening to a friend in
need, or buying a sub sandwich for a stranger at the grocery store. She had big
dreams, but she watched them disappear as five children took their place.  As a stay-at-home mom, she watched her “me
time” fly out the window so she could teach her kids how to fly instead.
She taught me what it looks like to surrender.  She moved to Nashville, majoring in music
performance, with a voice and body to make effortless records.  Growing up, she had captured the eyes of many
men, but then she decided the only one that mattered was the One who created
her.  She chose to deny herself, to
become less, so He could become more.  A
strong, loving husband and four children later, she still lives a life of
He taught me imagination. 
That the best things in life are born from creativity and the rebellion
against sameness. He is brilliant, though his grades never showed it.  He taught me that the best way to learn how
to build it is to break it.  That
brokenness is not only okay, sometimes it’s necessary.  Rather than “If it’s not broken don’t fix it”
mentality, he lives by “Make it better, even if you have to destroy it.”   
He taught me adventure. 
That freedom comes from cutting off the worries of what other people
think of you.  Or it comes from jumping
out of a second story house to escape a mean babysitter (who happened to be his
sister) who sent him to his room.  He
constructed man-made bows and arrows by whittling sticks and using duct
tape.  He reminded me that life is as
joyful as you choose to see it.  Even the
simplest things can be transformed, even the simplest tasks can turn to
She taught me unconditional love.  Love without condition.  Love that was patient, and gentle.  Love that did not hold any record of
wrongs.  Love that didn’t ask for
something in return.  Love that didn’t
seek attention, payback, or even appreciation. 
She is the essence of peace.  Her
spirit is like the gentle breeze that whispers through the pines. She is the
least noticed of all, although she’s everything I’ve ever wanted to be.     
Steve, Peg, Emily, Justin, Garret, and Laura: the
greatest missionaries of all time. 
Because true missions starts at home.
So, to my true missionaries, the ones behind the scenes:
Dad and Mom,
I am a product of you—the good, the bad, the ugly, the
beautiful.  And those little things.  Dad, I hate walking around barefoot on the
kitchen floor when there’s crumbs on the ground or when it’s sticky.  Now I understand why you made us scrub that
floor repeatedly, no matter how many times we claimed we washed it.  Thanks for the pet peeve.  Mom, now I understand why it took you forever
to come sit down and join us for a movie or a game; while we were finally
occupied, you finally had free time to clean and wash and scrub and sort and
make muffins and popcorn and provide for us in every little way that we never
thanked you for.  I hear both of your
words come out of my mouth, and now I laugh and even smile.  Now I understand.   
Mom, we hated it when you were angry and hurting; it was
the worst day in the world if I ever saw you cry (except for during movies when
we’d make fun of you…and now even I can’t hold back tears during sappy moments!
Eish!) because I felt it in my bones and it shook me, and I hated that feeling
of helplessness.  And my girls feel the
same way.  My mood affects them
dramatically.  When I’m angry or hurting
or lonely or upset, they all feel it; they hate it, too, because they feel
helpless and try to avoid me during those moments.  But now I understand that in those moments,
all you needed was a hug, a gesture to show that we noticed you were hurting;
because, that’s all I want, too. 
Dad, now I understand why you didn’t like it when we
laughed at the dinner table, and that you’d send us away if we kept laughing
(which of course made us laugh even more). 
Of course, we still think it’s absurd, and even my girls here couldn’t
stop laughing when they heard the story of “grumpy mkhulu” at the dinner table,
but… I can empathize.  It was because
dinner time was your first moment of peace all day, after a long day of working
with your bare hands in the sun, the heat, or the cold, building up your
business that demanded everything but could take everything at any moment if
you didn’t get enough bids.  I still
remember moments of stress for you and Mom when you didn’t know if we’d have
groceries on the table the following week. 
But Dad, you never gave up.  You
stuck through the worst of moments.  But
those moments were often at times, and you just needed some quiet.  Instead there were five obnoxious children
fighting and arguing and giggling and laughing and refusing to let you
think.  I see the need for those moments
in the noise of life here, too.        
To my older sister: I could not be more thankful that God
chose you before me.  The Valentine’s
baby.  The one whom everyone loved and
adored.  Oh, how I followed you around everywhere.
It’s crazy how much child #2 thinks the world of child #1.  I see that in Benji and Lucia.  Everything she says, Benny has to copy.  Which can be a great thing, but also… well,
you know.  It didn’t matter that you were
sometimes a mean babysitter and that you would hit me on the knees with a text
book, thinking you could see my reflexes. 
It didn’t matter that you didn’t believe in aliens or that you grew too
old for cops and robbers.  You were my
role model and my best friend.  We grew
up on country music, but I remember the first time you introduced me to Christian
music.  It was Casting Crowns.  I thought you were weird.  But I gave it a try because I loved you.  And then I fell in love with Christ and
haven’t looked back since.  We shared a
bedroom for most our lives, but most importantly we shared our hearts.  You didn’t know this but at night when you’d
be on the phone or had just broken up with a boyfriend and you were crying, I’d
cry into my pillow, too.  I pretended to
be asleep, but I heard it all.  I hated
to see you hurting.  So when you crawled
into my bed one night and squealed with delight into my ear that you were
engaged, I couldn’t have been happier. I mean, at first I thought you were
being stupid and I told you to go away because I was sleeping, but then you
shoved the beautiful ring in my face and asked me to be your maid of honor, and
indeed that was one of the greatest moments of honor I’ve ever felt.  Em, I love you more than you can ever know.
To my brothers:  My
brothers of imagination and adventure.  I
am me because of you.  Do you know
that?  I mean, really.  My fondest moments of childhood revolve
around you two.  Turning the picnic table
over to pretend it’s a ship and sail to the far seas (who would’ve thought I’d
actually make it to the Indian Ocean?); or climbing up your bunkbeds and piling
our pillows below, pretending we are in an airplane and Pilot Justin tells us
to “Bail out, bail out” so we jump off the bunk bed yelling, “Geronimo!”; or
building a tree fort at the cabin and playing imaginery games; or canoeing
around the lake and investigating the swamp; clearing off the snow in winter to
make an ice hockey rink; playing orphans (I mean, really? Who does that?) and
using the row boat to pretend we were escaping from evil owner Rita, of course
played by our big sis Emily; or starting a detective club and Justin making ID
cards for us; or all the awesome movies we made (but Laura taped over because
she just had to record “Homeward
Bound”).  Justin, you know I regret that
growing up made us grow apart.  That
being one year apart during high school polarized us in some ways.  But we found our comradery again.  You make me laugh like no one else.  More than that, your laugh is one of the
absolute best.  I love the way you giggle
at movies like Emperor’s New Groove and the way you make Mom giggle so much she
pees her pants.  I love hearing you
sing.  I know I pretended not to be a fan
of your band in high school, but I still play your old songs to the girls here
in Swazi, and they, too, adore you.  And
Garret, you know how much I cherished our time together when you moved to La
Crosse when I was a super senior.  Our
bluff hikes, night hikes, crazy dances, teaching youth ministry together,
Culvers, CRU, Newman, getting furious at each other, but talking it out on our
two hour rides home.  You are so much
like me in so many ways, that it drives both of us crazy sometimes.  But I can relate to you so well.  You are the best person I have ever gotten in
a fight with, because you know how to talk me through things.  You don’t let me push my way, though I’ve
come to learn I am so stuck on doing things “my” way (eish, sorry!), but you
show me how silly my stubbornness is and yet you love me anyway.  You are one of my best friends because you
make me a better person.  Oh, my brothers
of imagination and adventure.  There is
no way, no way, I could live in Swaziland had it not been for you.  
To my baby sis: You’ve grown up in the shadow of two big
sisters and two social butterfly brothers. 
You’ve looked up to me, to us. 
But actually, I crave to be like you every day. You’d put my love to
shame if it ever were to be laid next to yours. 
Your humility is convicting, your peace is captivating, your beauty is
everlasting.  You will undoubtedly make
the most amazing wife and mother someday. 
Whoever the young man is who wins you over will be the most well-loved (and
well-fed) man in this world. You moved to my city to be my roommate for one
year, even though you had job opportunities in a different city.  But you chose to listen to that still small
voice from the Lord and I became your ministry. 
As my roommate in that awesome house on the Brownsville farm, you
ministered to me in ways you never even knew. 
When loneliness and stress of teaching got the best of me, you were
there.  You woke up in the morning to
heat up hot chocolate and put it in a travel mug, knowing I’d be running
late.  You made me homemade bagels and
introduced me to healthy foods I loved but would’ve never discovered nor tried
on my own.  You sat in the stands to
cheer on my basketball girls when I coached. 
You kept me from many temptations. 
You were my angel that year, and you always have been.  Furthermore, during the most miraculous of
moments in Swazi, who was at my side or sharing a bed with me when I was
scared? You!  Thank you for showing the
most real form of unconditional love I have seen manifested by a human being.
When I grow up, I want to be like my little sis.  
To the greatest missionaries of all time: Thank you for
teaching me how to fight, how to cry, how to apologize, how to forgive, how to
surrender, how to let go, how to hold on, how to live with you and how to live
without you.  Thank you for seeing me as
nothing more than who I am—flawed, stubborn, hard-headed, emotional, rude,
broken, and a sinner in need of a Savior—and loving me anyway.  Thank you for teaching me that true missions starts
at home.  I carry you with me.  

“What can you do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.”  
-Mother Teresa

Recent Comments

  • Peg Martin

    Sunday, 20 Mar, 2016

    Wow. Way to make us all cry!!. Garret just showed this to dad and I
    We would not have this unity of Family love and service if it weren't for your inspiration, love, dedication and love for God. thank you for so beautifully scripting your heart. We love you

  • Peg Martin

    Sunday, 20 Mar, 2016

    Wow. Way to make us all cry!!. Garret just showed this to dad and I
    We would not have this unity of Family love and service if it weren't for your inspiration, love, dedication and love for God. thank you for so beautifully scripting your heart. We love you


Leave a Reply

  • Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2016 - Hosea's Heart, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Hosea's Heart, Inc. is a 501(c)-3 organization.