Band of Brothers

This last week I’ve experienced more emotions and learned more about myself than I ever imagined.

Tony and I both came from small families, and as we get older that’s growing even smaller as we float our way to the top of the survivors.

However this last week, we’ve been with 1200 RETIRED Missionaries, all from the International Mission Board.  We ourselves were totally supported by them for almost 40 years.  Gathered together were the young folks like us (late 60’s) all the way up to the wheelchair ridden hunched over ones who are near 100, all having served the same mission board, put up with the same authorities, (and loving most of them), learning the same acronyms like CPM and PBD and of course the OOBs……and all the rest……..

I think my point is, that by nature of the job, we’ve spent more time and association with these folks than we ever did with our families or even our country.  It was said many times that with most of us having logged in 30 – 40 year careers, the aggregation of the 1200 of us represents nearly 27000 years of service.

And then I realized something else, possibly a bit of a shock.  For most of our lives, we’ve either been a bit reviled or a bit ‘pedestalled’  (is that even a word? Let me explain, we were often put on a pedestal, even though we seldom deserved it).  Most of the ‘reviling’ came from people who either don’t share our religious beliefs or don’t ‘get’ our foreignness. Some of you, especially those who read our blog but don’t know us, sometimes tend to over-esteem us.  Others, and they are many, roll their eyes in patient disgust and quietly put up with our idiosyncrasies. You know which of these people you are.

But I think, last week in that meeting, that I finally understood that with all of our escapades and adventures sharing God’s story throughout the world, THIS “Band of Brothers’ are the only people who can really understand us up close and personal!  Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs with each other, but because of our shared history, or maybe our shared weirdness along with the shared dedication to the same cause, we really are “US”.  We can be ourselves and no one thinks we’re strange, because in large part, they are strange as well.  This must be how old soldiers feel; like family, but family that’s shared more than most families.

And so it’s with renewed support, finally knowing who we really are, we carry on to our next reunion: the Missionary Journeyman class of 1973-75. One hundred of us went out to the four corners of the earth to serve for only 2 years.  In our case it was in Zambia, Africa. That experience set us on the path of career missions.

Many of the same folks were at last week’s big reunion, but we’ll see most of the rest of the Journeymen next week, so that’ll be a lot of fun. We drove the 8 hours down to Florida with our good friends, talking and laughing the whole way and even missing an intrepid Alligator trying to cross the freeway.

And then next Sunday afternoon we’re heading off to balmy Ireland (or more likely ‘chilly’ Ireland), perhaps on another search of where we really came from! hahaha

Wish us luck!  Marsha

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