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December 19, 2017, 12:00 AM

Missions Is Like Curry

The following is a guest blog post by Cristie Dykeman, who recently served as an Associate in Missions to Suriname.

As I round out my second month in Suriname I am left pondering my experience thus far. I find it hard to believe that in just a month I will be home. It seems as if I have just arrived and in another way, like I’ve been here forever. So, as I contemplate my time here I am left thinking that missions work is a lot like curry. You may be wondering what I’m talking about—let me explain.

I had a terrible, no-good, rotten day last week. I had attempted to volunteer at a local hospital in a nursing capacity. I expected the conditions to be different than home, and I was not surprised. It was very difficult due to the language barrier. I was hot and exhausted at the end of the day, and trying to dodge the intermittent downpours of rain as I ran to catch a bus. Of course, I had forgotten my umbrella. I hadn’t really eaten all day; I just couldn’t seem to stomach anything in the heat and surroundings of the un-air conditioned surgery unit.

While on the bus, I had a surge of hunger and happened to spot a Roopram Restaurant out the window. I pressed the stop button and jumped off on impulse. Roopram is a local chain that specializes in curry and roti. I ordered kip filet (chicken breast curry) and the Indian style roti (flatbread). I really like curry and roti, so it hit the spot— at first. As I ate, I thought about my day and I began to feel quite miserable. The thing about this dish is that you eat it with your hands. You tear off a piece of bread and pick up the chicken and potato curry stew. The curry has a strong smell and it is impossible not to transfer this to your fingers. I was wishing I was home and eating with utensils; lamenting that my hand would likely hold the curry smell for a couple of days. When I arrived home, I turned the shower to the coldest temperature and scrubbed my hands. Finally cooled down, I collapsed on the bed with the curry odor still lingering. This was really one of the only days while I’ve been here where I thought I couldn’t get home fast enough. However, after some rest, my attitude was revived the next day.

Now, what has missions got to do with curry? Well, today I went downtown. I was there over lunch time and I contemplated where I could eat. I wasn’t too far from McDonald’s and I walked by Burger King (the only one in the country) but I remembered I had passed a Roopram on my wanderings. I thought that curry sounded good and I mused that, “I sure won’t be able to get it at home; best take advantage of the opportunity.” Again, I was sitting with my kip filet, but this time not so concerned about getting my hands dirty (I had also had the foresight to throw some wet wipes in my purse). I enjoyed the meal and the thought came to me that missions is a lot like this curry. I imagine I’m not the first person to make a similar comparison. You see curry is a strong flavour, it can be a bit hot to the mouth and for those with weaker digestive systems, it can be quite an irritant. But there is just something about it…it grows on you! I know when I go home I am going to crave the curry. I took a lesson on how to make it and wrote down detailed recipes but I’m not sure if I can make it turn out the same.

Missions is not always easy. Although I have been blessed with wonderful living conditions during my stay, it is still not the same as home. Sometimes it is uncomfortable simply because it’s different—it is like the uncomfortable sensation on the tongue when you get a bite with a little too much pepper. It is not all spiritual highs but sometimes it’s doing mundane things like trying to get the curry stain off your fingernails. But there is something satisfying about it. When you’re hungry for curry, there is really nothing else that will sate the craving. The Lord put a desire in my heart to serve in some capacity in missions and although I am still in Suriname, I find my mind wandering ahead thinking “this can’t be the end of this experience. I have just begun to learn. Lord, please make a way for me to go on AIM again.” It is already under my skin. There is something so rewarding about seeing people from another nation experience the moving of the Holy Ghost the same way as we do at home.

I don’t know that I have really made a terribly great contribution to the work here during this time. Honestly, I am more likely the recipient of many lessons. I hope I have been a help to the missionaries and the church here, but I see how AIM has really caused me to look introspectively and realize things I need to do to develop myself. When I go home, I must aggressively work at learning to play the piano, I need to take a course on Windows programs (I can be more useful in missions if I am more computer literate) and I need to start studying another language (this only speaking English thing, is lame). I have also learned that I may have some ability to teach. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to speak at ladies’ meetings and teach in GATS Bible School classes. I am not a fantastic teacher by any means, but I think it is something I can further develop and I have found I really enjoy sharing the Bible with others. Being here has also confirmed a choice I made recently to further my education by enrolling in a Bachelor of Health Administration program. This will expand on my nursing background and I can see parallels in the material that will be useful in ministry.

To those who have supported me on the AIM journey, I thought that you were simply supporting me to work in the field of Suriname, and that is true. But more than I initially realized, you were investing in me as a person. I pray that the Lord will help me to continue to educate myself and grow in wisdom and knowledge. I will take the things I have learned with me and hopefully use them for the Kingdom of God at home.  Also in the long run, I hope to use them on the mission field when I go on AIM again, God willing. So, thank you to my partners for investing, not only in the people of Suriname, but also in me personally.

So, if missions is like curry…I think I have another craving!