Decoding Missionary Newsletters


Before moving overseas, I read newsletters of cross cultural workers and thought something along the lines of Well, that’s interesting. Now that I live overseas, I realize newsletters are filled with code words. Or rather, ordinary words that take on a bit "extra" when used in the context of living overseas.

Take the following sentence as an example: It’s been a year of transitions and adjustments. That sentence is actually a neat and tidy way of saying: I’ve spent the last 12 months living out of a suitcase and making tons of mistakes everywhere I go.

Ah, now we understand what’s actually going on.

These words open an article entitled Newsletter Code Words, posted by Anisha Hopkinson in a blog dated July 11, 2019. 

Anisha describes herself as "born to Chilean and Texan parents, first tasted missions in Mexico, fell in love with an Englishman in Africa, and now lives in Indonesia." She journals about cross-cultural life, helping people, and loving Jesus.

Here are a few of the code words she identifies: 

Code: Visa application process
Meaning: We’ve quit our jobs, given away our belongings, raised support, and are ready to go, but if this paperwork is denied all our plans are totally stuffed.

Code: Health issues
Meaning: This mainly means diarrhea.

Code: Prayerfully consider partnering with us.
Meaning: We really need people to pray for us and donate money every month and are pretty sure if you just asked Jesus, he’d tell you to do it.
Note: No? It’s just me then.

Code: Rainy season
Meaning: Thank God for relief from raging tropical heat, but now there is mud everywhere and my laundry won’t dry.

Code: Graduating language school
Note: For some of us, language school is also known as “Language She’ol.” Yes, as in the dark and lonely realm of the dead.

Code: It’s been a difficult term
Meaning: We are so completely stressed out and yelling at each other all the time and quite frankly surprised to still be here.
Note: Respond to this newsletter and ask how you can help.

Code: Tired
Meaning: Utter exhaustion
Note: Gift this person a vacation.

Code: Multi-cultural team
Meaning: We’re all from different countries and the Dutch are rude, the Germans are inflexible, the Americans are too sensitive, and the Australians are very, well, Australian. Plus, it’s hard to tell jokes everyone understands.

Code: Thank you for praying!!!
Meaning: Don’t forget us. We might die if you don’t pray.
Note: Ok, I exaggerated…or did I?

Code: We could not be here without you.
Meaning: We could not be here without you.
Note: Maybe it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s totally the truth. 

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