Six sources of expectations, both real and perceived, are examined (p. 19):
- Self: what women expect of themselves compared to "ideal missionaries."
- Sending church: expectations supporting individuals and churches have of women missionaries.
- Mission agency: expectations women have of their agency and vice-versa.
- Fellow missionaries: relationships between teammates.
- National friends and host culture: what women expect of individuals in the host culture and what she perceives they expect of her.
- God: what happens when God does not act the way missionary women expect He will.
Overall, this is a helpful and solid resource for missionary women. I found the statistics a bit tedious and the references to other material somewhat distracting, and chapter subheadings would greatly aid retaining the information returning to specific subpoints later. However, I appreciated the honest yet compassionate tone; it felt as though the authors were sitting in a circle of women sharing from their own struggles, victories, and contagious love for the Lord and the Great Commission. In addition, the anonymous voices from the survey communicated multiple perspectives that fleshed out each point.
I would recommend this book to women preparing to go the mission field as well as those with years of experience; to team leaders; to sending churches, missions pastors, and mobilizers; and to family and friends who want to pray and encourage women they love with greater understanding.
Here are my personal take-aways:
- I now can see how expectations, based on my experiences learning Spanish and being immersed in Latino culture, have been a disadvantage in how I approach learning Garífuna and have distorted my perspective as a newcomer. I became aware of more of these expectations and how dealing with them can help me avoid pitfalls that lead to burnout and allow me to be much more open to how the Lord is working right here, right now.
- My situation is different from many of those the book represents because I am not on an actual team with other expats and because my husband and his family are from here (and I love that part!).
- Moving to Latin America as a single woman and developing close relationships in a Latino context allowed me to work through culture shock and lifestyle adjustments before getting married and having a baby. At least for me, I think it would have been more difficult to come of the field married with kids and accustomed to running a home in the U.S.
- While we all need margin with time, resources, and energy, this is particularly crucial in order to thrive cross-culturally. In addition, my relationship with the Lord must always be a high priority, in spite of busyness and distractions.