Funny Missionary Stories

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by Spinach, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. Spinach

    Spinach
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    Please come and share. It could be fun to remember all those funny deptuation/furlough moments, as well as mistakes in the new language, and other misc comedic moments.

    I'll start with one story and then add more after Christmas.

    It was our first weekend trip on deputation. We loaded the kids, the luggage, and the slide projector/table items into the mini-van. Not too far down the road, child #4 took ill and vomited everywhere. I had to clean her, her coat, and her car seat.

    We kept going. We had two appointments that weekend.

    When we got to Virginia, we stopped at the motel that the Pastor told us about. We got settled into the adjoining rooms. Soon more children were ill. The room was a horrible mess. I asked dh to go and get some rags from the front desk so I could clean up the mess. They sent him back with one hand towel. Oh my!

    The next morning, we were to be out of the motel by 11. That meant that I couldn't stay behind with the kids. I had to take them to the church. By then stomachs had settled, so I sat in the back row with them. I gave them each a cup, just in case they had to throw up as we ran to the bathroom.

    No one threw up. After church my kids were still holding their little cups. I don't know why, but some people started dropping money in my kids cups. One of my daughters even got a bracelet in hers.

    I was so embarassed! Later I laughed with the Pastor and his wife about my little missionary kids and their "beggar cups".

    What a way to start deputation!
     
  2. John of Japan

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    Good idea for a thread, Spinach. Loved your story!

    I'm reminded of the most special gifts ever sent over to a bereft Tennessee missionary. We hadn't been over here but a few months when I complained to my best friend back in Tennessee that I couldn't get root beer anywhere. God bless 'im! He sent a whole box of root beer over. I got the note from the P. O. to come pick it up, and my poor heart was all a flutter.

    Now the problem was that the Japanese culture, as rich as it is, has no knowledge whatever of root beer. So at the P. O. they slapped an alcohol surcharge on my box of root beer. And I had just started language study--certainly didn't know enough to explain root beer to a stern customs man! So now I had a moral dilemma. Do I pay alcohol tax for root beer, or do I refuse the shipment? More importantly, would my supporting churches ever find out??? Did I pay the tax and take the root beer? You'll never know! (Man was it good, though!).

    Several years later we had graduated from language school and moved to Yokohama to start our first church. My mom, bless her Texan soul, had sent over some little bottles of root beer extract. All you had to do was add water and yeast, seal the bottles and wait. We had some missionary friends come down from our previous town for a meal, and I thought I would give them a treat--home made root beer!

    Wouldn't you know it, they didn't appreciate my Mom's gift and all that hard work I did to make it up. None of them would drink it, due to the yeasty taste and smell. Why I even had to show them an encyclopedia article on fermentation and explain how just having yeast in it didn't make my root beer into real beer! Shucks, as it turned out I had to drink all the root beer myself! (Man was it good, though!).
     
  3. Spinach

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    That's funny, John! I'm glad they let you have your root beer. We had a package sent over last Christmas and it contained a first aid kit. They wouldn't let us have it and sent the whole box back to the States.

    Funny language stuff----Durin our first year on the field, I had very small children (newborn, in fact), so all my language study came from a "housekeeper". She didn't keep much house, but she was cheaper to talk to/learn from than a tutor. She spoke no English. It was a fabulous way to learn!

    Anyhoo, one day she was trying to make conversation and we were talking about food. I tried to say to her, "I don't eat goat." She jerked her head back and looked at me funny. I grabbed for my dictionary. What I really said was, "I don't eat dish rags."

    That's not nearly as bad as my friend, who asked the market vendor to give her a lemon. What she really asked for was something quite naughty. She didn't know until a while later and then was so embarassed!

    Yet another friend asked for a "mushroom milkshake" at the McDrive.
     
  4. Spinach

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    My most embarassing deputation story is not for the weak of stomach. I am giving fair warning now----if you can't handle poo stories, please skip this post...

    We were invited back to the church of my original story. The Pastor was a friend of ours. He wanted us to participate in his mission's conference.

    As was my routine, upon arriving at the church, I'd take all my little ones directly to the bathroom. We'd use the potty, get a small drink, and then we'd be ready for a whole service (we had 4 kids at the time).

    I led the children to the fourth pew on the right (there were three sections of pews in the front and 2 small sections in the back). Soon the singing began. My littlest (at that time) said she had to go "browns". I said that we already went and to sit down. Soon she began to pass some gas so I excused the two of us to the bathroom. She passed a little more gas and said she was done. I took her back to the pew.

    10 minutes later, "Momma, I gotta go browns." Sigh. "I just took you and you didn't go!" Then it got stinky again, so I excused myself to the bathroom.

    She finally went. When we got back to the auditorium doors, I peeked in and they were praying. I waited for prayer to finish and then quietly went back to my pew. I picked up my little one and set her next to me on the pew. She whispered, loudly, "Momma, it's on my dress!" I whispered back, "What is on your dress?" I picked her up, and she had messed in her pull-up and it was now on the back of her dress. She must have done it while I was waiting for the prayer to end.

    I grabbed her hand and whispered to my poor husband that I would have to clean her up and that I wouldn't interupt again----I would sit in one of the back pews.

    On the way down the aisle to the back door that leads to the bathrooms, I spotted a piece of poo on the floor near the door. Surely it belonged to my child and had fallen out of her pull-up on the way to our pew. I slowed my pace, trying to figure out what to do.... Then I quickened my pace, scooped up the poo and kept walking.

    I was humiliated. I cleaned up my little girl and changed her dress. I stayed in the foyer because I didn't want to be seen by anyone in those back rows. Just then I busted out laughing. I figured that the poo was probably a horrible distraction for the people back there----"Look at the preacher, look at the poo. Look at the preacher, look at the poo." Soon my humiliation passed in a fit of humor.

    Would you believe that after church, no one shook my hand?

    ROFLOL!
     
  5. John of Japan

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    That was really, really gross, Spinich! I give thanks that it happened to you guys and not us.

    I have some language blunders I'll add some time, but first our ice episode.

    We had just been in Japan a few weeks when it happened. For our first year we were house-sitting for a missionary friend on furlough, and found our next door neighbors to be very nice—though without any English skills at all. And we had no Japanese skills at all. Talk about being thrown in, sink or swim!

    So anyway, our baby boy somehow got a piece of ice stuck in his throat, and we panicked. We ran next door to the nice lady and began shouting, “Ice, ice,” while we pointed down the throat of our baby. I guess we figured she would know what to do—call the ambulance, do some kind of Asian CPR, we didn’t know. But the poor lady just stood there staring in befuddlement!

    Finally the little ice cube melted enough to go down, as they will do. We thanked the poor lady profusely—none of which communicated, of course. It was much later when we found out what was wrong. In Japanese, the loan word “ice” (pronounced aisu) does not mean frozen water but frozen milk, as in “ice cream.” (The Japanese love to shorten foreign words and make them their own.) So from the Japanese neighbor’s viewpoint, the crazy foreigners had run over to her house with their baby, screaming for ice cream to be shoved down his throat! Tsk, tsk. You never can tell with these foreigners.
     
  6. Spinach

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    That must have been scary! Isn't it something how we can laugh at such things later. I think that's a gift from God---otherwise how horrible would our memories be!

    Another funny deptuation story came when I was quite pregnant with our fifth child. We met the Pastor at a funeral and he invited us to his church. We hit it off with him quickly. What a nice fella.

    When the time came to visit his church, he called and said he wouldn't be there to meet us on Saturday night (would be out of town), but that the "Prophet's Chambers" were "Below the church" and that the key was under a certain mat.

    That church was so far back in the winding hills of VA and no gas stations were in sight. My very pregnant self REALLY needed a rest stop. Nothing was there. We pressed on.

    FINALLY we made it to the church. Dh was searching for "the mat" and I was URGING him to hurry. He found the mat and the keys. He unlocked the church door, assuming that "below the church" meant the basement. I ran inside, in the dark to find a bathroom. Just then the security alarm went off----and LOUDLY! I kept looking for the bathroom.

    That alarm went off for about 30 minutes before shutting itself off. Dh called the Pastor's home and got ahold of his wife----what a thing to explain----"Um....Mrs. [Lastname].....um...well you see....my wife, she's expecting and REALLY needed to find a bathroom.....and, well......we set off the church alarm.

    She couldn't even respond to him because of her laughter. It took several minutes for her to compose herself. Afterward, she gave instructions and explained that "below the church" meant the small building down the hill.

    Another hour later, the State police came, took dh's story and ID. They had a good little laugh as well.

    The next day at church, the Pastor and his wife---and dh and me---we all had a good laugh together about this one crazy missionary moment.
     
  7. John of Japan

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    It was kind of scary at the time! But looking back it sure is funny! That poor Japanese lady.

    As long as you are telling deputation stories, here's one of mine. I didn't get married until after two years on the deputation trail. (For the story of how God wonderfully led my wife and me together through the mission board, see the article on our website at www.johnofjapan.org.)

    Anyway, the missionary on deputation should be willing to go anywhere to preach and present his ministry. I've been down a few dirt roads in my day as a missionary on deputation or furlough. I've preached everywhere I was invited, as far as humanly possible.

    Once I was headed way out in the country in Florida somewhere, and just couldn't find the country road I needed--could have been a dirt road, I don't remember. I prayed earnestly and then called the church and finally figured out the way. When I got to the church they were singing songs from their old shaped note hymn book as they waited for me. As I walked in, they were singing an old song I've never heard before or since: "I Can't Find the Way Alone!" :laugh:
     
  8. Spinach

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    Funny!!!

    We had a small lull during deputation where churches "already had a missionary in that part of the world". We became discouraged that we would never get there.

    Then one day, just for fun, we had our youngest boy quote scripture for some friends at our mission. That boy could really quote---and he was only 5. He stood up and quoted John 1:1-19. They were quite impressed and gave him a dollar.

    Then a month later, they invited us to go to a revival meeting with them. We were glad to go anywhere! We loaded up our crew and headed out to the meeting. The guest preacher was a friend of our friend. She told him about our boys' scripture quoting. He had him get up and quote scripture during the meeting. Would you believe we got 4 appointments in that one night? The next night was the same.

    One of the appointments was accidentally double-booked. Dh called him back and had to explain the situation. He was very understanding. Then the day came to go to his church. We were to meet him at a certain gas station. We got there nice and early. The Pastor was late, so we thought. Actually he was parked on the other side of the parking lot. Already dh felt like he had 2 strikes against him (the double-booking and then being late). When we got to the church---a tiny church PACKED full of people---they were waiting for the Pastor to arrive. Because it was already late, the Preacher immediately turned the service over to dh.

    He was quite nervous because of all the previous events and for the first time ever, forgot all his testimony scriptures. He sat down, knowing "three strikes and you're out!"

    He couldn't have been more wrong. The Lord turned that whole ordeal into something beautiful. The kids had just had vbs and gave us an enormous love offering, all in change. Then the church took us on for the largest monthly sum we had heard of. They still support us today. It had to have been the Lord!!!
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Aren't the kids great? They are such a source of help and blessing--and sometimes stress--both on deputation and on the field.

    I think it's time for a language blunder.

    When I could finally preach in Japanese freely from an outline, I thought I had arrived—until I preached on Christ as the Light of the world. My key illustration was taken from spelunking: how you should not go into a cave without backup flashlights, how you should not go caving alone, how you can't see your hand in front of your face if you turn the lights off, how my friend and I had a map of the cave but still got turned around. Christ lights us through life just as our flashlight takes us safely through a cave!

    I just wasn’t getting through. The church people all had strange, confused looks on their faces. Mrs. Kobayashi finally stood up and said, "Pastor, what do you mean?" I had been saying anaguma (badger) instead of horaana (cave)!

    So, "You should not go into a badger without backup flashlights. You can't see your hand in front of your face if you turn the lights off inside a badger. My friend and I had a map of the inside of the badger but still got turned around." That day not one person came forward—they were too busy hiding their snickers.
     
  10. Jim1999

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    A chap who is long gone now, but wrote a book, Around the World on a Shoestring. He took the gospel to the world stricly on free will offerings. HIs name slips me at moment.

    He was in Australia and rang a bell as he cried out, "Down with the Labour Party! Down with the Labour Party." As a note, Aussies took their politics quite seriously at the time he was there street preaching. Soon a crowd of angry Aussies had gathered around him.

    Again, he rang the bell and shouted, "Come unti ME all YE that LABOUR and I shall give you rest.....Down with THAT Labour Party...Jesus said................." He got away with it and did preach the gospel to a crowd.

    I still remember him relating that story from back in the 60's when I heard it.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  11. palagislandgirl

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    I will never forget being kicked out of the airport while I was a missionary! I was on an island in the south Pacific and was with some of the pastor's family. We were taking his adult son back to the airport to catch his flight back to seminary on New Year's Eve. His flight left at 12:30 on New Years morning so we took our bottle of sparkling grape juice and cups to the airport with us. While waiting on his flight, the security guard came up and asked us to leave because he thought we had alcohol and since none of us where speaking the native language he assumed we where tourists. The pastors daughter explained the situation and we where allowed to stay but we never went back to the airport without laughing again.
     
  12. John of Japan

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    Good one, palagislandgirl! You can't be a foreign missionary for long without having airport experiences.

    We stopped over for a stay in Korea a few years back while going home for a furlough, and took a tour. The specter of a North Korean attack is always in the minds of the people of Seoul. We were told by the tour guide that the freeway we were traveling on was built specifically to take landings by warplanes in case of war. Then at the presidential palace security was high, and we were not even allowed to take photos of the palace.

    Later, back at the airport, we went into the passenger area one by one, showing our passports to the security man. Strangely, he asked each one of in detail about our activities. “You leave airport yestaday?” “No sir,” we answered, “It was today. Then we came back today.” He didn’t seem to believe us. It was only after we got through that we checked our passports and learned that when we left the airport the man at the gate had stamped our passports with the wrong date!

    We were treated with suspicion at the airport until our departure later. While we were waiting for our flight a man ostentatiously sat right behind us with a walkee-talkee. Anther man kept looking through a window at us. Imagine—a family of three (Dad, Mom, son) White Anglo-Saxon Protestant spies from North Korea!
     
  13. Jim1999

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    John, You should have borrowed my old uniform and medals. South Koreans almost worship veterans.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  14. Rippon

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    "A few years ago"? Are you sure? Twenty years ago maybe.
    I can assure you that the specter of a North Korean attack hardly passes through the minds of the average Seoul citizen.They are perfectly oblivious to the possible threat.
     
  15. Rippon

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    No,only old-timers venerate vets.You're not going to witness any under the age of 70.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    :laugh: I'd have been flying under false colors. I saw a recruiter back in '72, but probably would have been rejected because of my bad eyes, as my Dad was during WW2.

    The only thing I'm a veteran at is missionarying!
     
  17. John of Japan

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    It was in 1998.
     
  18. Spinach

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    Interestingly enough, I don't think I have an airport story.


    When we were first on the field and didn't speak a bit of the new language, we lived in an apartment (with our 5 kids). The man downstairs was so grouchy---and I can't say I blame him. Even quiet feet sounded like they were coming through his ceiling. So, five kids running to the breakfast table in the morning prompted him to call the police on us.

    When the police came, I was frightened. My English speaking friend came over and explained everything to me. I was to keep the children SILENT until 8am and between the hours of 1 and 4 pm (afternoon rest). I did my best, but I was not always successful.

    It bothered me so to keep everyone seated for so long everyday, but winters were too harsh to get out. I cried and prayed for the Lord to remove us from that place. I begged my husband to move us. He prayed on it and came back to talk to me. He said, "This is not going to be a popular decision, but God wants us to stay right where we are. We've just got to believe that God will change the man's heart."

    Unpopular was right. I cried for a couple days. Then I decided to ride on dh's faith, since obviously mine was weak.

    It wasn't long and not only was he kind, but he conversed with us, opened the door for me with my groceries, kissed the kids' faces (customary), and kissed my hand (also customary). When we left there, he was sad to see our kids go. He had grown fond of them somehow. It was an amazing transformation.

    I guess that one wasn't funny. I'll have to think of another one...
     
  19. John of Japan

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    That's a wonderful story of blessing, Spinach. Our kids can be such a help in the ministry. You'll get your airport stories, don't worry. In the meantime, how about some train stories.

    Down in Tokyo, there are "pushers" hired by the train company. No, they don't push drugs, they push people. During rush hour, the trains are so incredibly crowded that in order to keep things going these men have to push people onto the train. I’ve been pushed on to a train many times. Then it is so crowded that you literally cannot move. To study on the way to my language school, I would have to get my Japanese study cards up to my face before getting on, or they’d be frozen in my hands, which would be shoved up against my legs.

    Once on the Yamanote ("hand of the mountain") hub train, the crowd was so thick I was pushed off the train when it wasn't my stop, though I was holding onto the top of the door with both hands. Fighting to get back in, I lowered my arms and clobbered a little Japanese "salary man" right on the top of the head with my elbow. He staggered but kept right on going—and this is the elbow I used to break concrete blocks with in karate demonstrations!

    I remember one of my language teachers telling us about being a PA system announcer on a train platform in Tokyo. One day she saw a lady have her purse caught in the door of the commuter train, and then watch the train carry the purse right off!

    She immediately became very excited and began hollering, “Purse, purse.” Her boss said, “Now, calm down, calm down. It’s under control.” She said, “But, but, we need to call the next train station to get her purse for her, and it’s very close, so the train will be there soon. We need to call right away!!” Her boss shushed her and then calmly called the platform two stations away—after which he explained to her that at the next station, the doors opened on the side of the train away from the platform, so calling them would have done no good!
     
  20. Spinach

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    I have a scary tram story---in the city where we first started, there were people and stray dogs EVERYWHERE! We had five little kiddos and no car. We would walk to the tram, take it to the bus stop, and take the bus to another bus stop, where we'd meet up with another missionary and get a ride with them to the church. I had a hard time being in a spirit of worship after such trips.

    Anyway, on the tram and the bus, we had a particular order that we would use, in case we were separated for some reason. I'd always get on first, with child 5 strapped to my chest. The kids would file in behind me and dh would get on last.

    One day, somehow, our oldest son was near the door or the tram. It stopped, but it wasn't our stop. For some reason, he thought it was, so he stepped out. Just then the door closed and the tram began to move. The look in his eyes were sheer horror. I yelled to the driver. Others began to yell. Finally he opened to door, while we were still moving, and I grabbed the hand of my running child and pulled him in.

    That was the last time he was so presumptuous.

    On to a funny story. I call this my prophetess story. Warning, it's long!!!

    Last Christmas, we were walking out of our gate to get into our van to go to a party at the home of another missionary friend. We were all dressed up and in our best coats. A little old woman I had seen before (she used to pick through the scraps at the meat market that they throw out for the dogs) came over to me and asked something of me. My language skills were even more lacking then than they are now and I didn't understand her. It didn't take long before I understood that she was cold and had no coat. She asked if I had something she could wear. I ran up to our storage room and found her something. She hugged me and walked toward the meat factory.

    A week later, a winter storm hit and I didn't see her come around. I was worried that she had passed. Every time the church bells rang, I thought of her.

    Then in March, she came by again. I was so happy to see her. I ran out and hugged her and asked how she'd been. She said she had been ill. I fed her and we talked. She didn't want a handout and asked if she could come and help me with the gardening for a bit of money. I agreed.

    She came with her hoe in hand and weeded my flower beds. I had her rest every so often and we'd talk. She told me that she had been a widow for 25 years. Her daughter was also a widow. Her ganddaughter just had a baby. They were flat busted broke and she asked if I had some clothes or a blanket for the baby. I didn't. My baby is 4. I told her I'd see what I could do.

    Then I remembered the box of yarn I was sent for Christmas. It had been nearly 15 years since I'd picked up a hook, but I tried it out anyway. I was just experimenting with different stitches, not really knowing what I was doing. I was determined to crochet a hat and blanket. I didn't know the sex of the baby, but I'd been told that colors don't matter here. They wear whatever they have. You can tell it's a girl by the earrings.

    So I made a blue striped blanket with matching hat. I waited for her to come back. She didn't come. I worried about her again. She hadn't told me where she lived and I couldn't find her. A month later, she came back to the gate. She said she had been ill again but would like to come back to work with me on Friday. I said she could come back. I forgot to give her the blanket and hat. She never came back and I haven't seen her since. I cried about it.

    A couple months went by and there laid that blanket and hat. I wasn't sure what to do with it. I thought I'd wait and hear of someone expecting and I'd give it. It wasn't long and I heard that a national Pastor's wife was expecting. They are older and have grandchildren. It was completely unexpected. They have 4 grown girls. I thought I'd gift wrap it up and send it to her through a friend.

    My friend took the gift bag to church with her. She took her to the side and handing it to her, told her that it was a gift from me. She raised an eyebrown. She didn't know me well and wondered why I would be sending her a gift.

    She slowly peeked in the bag. When she caught sight of what it was, she started screaming. Her friend came running and looked in the bag. She started screaming. My friend had no idea what made them so excited. They had seen crocheted afghans before, surely. When the screaming subsided, my friend asked what was so exciting.

    She told her that it was because the colors were blue. I must have been prophesying that her baby was going to be a boy. She and her husband had dreamed of having a boy, since they already had four girls. Surely, it was a sign.

    I saw her at a wedding this summer and she thanked me for the gift. I asked her due date and it was October. I let her know that she MUST have him on my birthday. She and I laughed together.

    She didn't have her baby on my birthday, but it was a boy.

    Next time I give out crochets, I'll be a LOT more careful about the color. LOL!
     

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