When missionaries gather we console each other. We encourage each other. We laugh together. We gripe together. We solve problems together. A particular consolation comes up frequently in my corner of the world. When things get hard or lonely we say,
“At least we didn’t have to pack our stuff in a coffin.”
Some missionaries a long time back would pack their stuff in a simple wooden coffin instead of suitcases. The regions God called them to commonly did not participate in the practice of burying their dead. Often the trip was one-way because of cost and the extensive time to arrive. Aside from sporadic posts the people who sent the missionary away rarely heard from them again.
My have times changed!
Missionaries now use tools like airplanes and the internet. We can call our loved ones in our passport countries with relative ease. Even those working in rural regions, cut off from communication methods, can hop in a motor vehicle to get to an urban city pretty quickly.
So we tell each other in short, “Things could be worse. Things have been worse. Be grateful.”
Maybe one day way far off in the future missionaries will console each other by saying,
“At least we don’t have to travel in clunky old airplanes now that teletransporters exist.”