When I first started with OMS in Hungary, I knew I would be on the field for at least two years. When that time was coming to an end, I reevaluated and took some time to see if this was still where I thought God was placing me. After much praying, I have decided my time with OMS has come to an end, and in a few short weeks, I will be moving to England to start grad school (if everything works out with the visa and travel during this pandemic).
The last few years of my life have definitely been an adventure. Between my internships, support raising, and serving on the field for two years, I have learned a lot about myself during my time with OMS, and now that this time has come to an end, it seems fitting to reflect on it. The following have been some of the most prevalent lessons for me.
Self-care is always one of those things that I thought sounded good in theory but was extremely selfish. And yes, though I still fight the thought that it is selfish, I now also think it is vitally important and have almost been forced to do it in order to be sustainable.
I need alone time. When I am around people, especially groups of people, my energy gets drained very quickly and if I don’t have time to recharge I become unhealthy. Over the past two years I have finally understood the importance of standing up for my own needs in creating that space for myself. If I take that time, I am better able to care for others.
I have also been more proactive in caring for my spiritual health and mental health over these two years and identifying what I need instead of going along with others just because it seemed easier.
Regardless of where you are and what you are doing, things will go wrong. Those that know me may agree with me that things tend to go more wrong than right in my life. This is definitely true in ministry. Almost every missionary will tell you that one of the most important skills you need as a missionary is the ability to be flexible. It’s true.
Living in a foreign country, things happen differently than what you are used to… and they happen differently each time they happen. I have spent ten minutes in the bank and an hour and half in the bank to do the exact same task. Even the immigration process can be different for each person.
Being flexible is not an easy thing, but going into situations and environments with an open mind (and for me, with contingency plans in place) helps make it a little easier when something does inevitably go wrong.
I am a helper. If someone needs something, I will do what I can to make it happen. In the States, I very much struggled saying no to things because there was usually always something that I could do.
Being in a different country with a different culture and language, though, there have been some times that I have not been able to do anything and that it is actually best for me not to do anything. It was better for someone else to talk to one of our students because they could do it in their own language. Starting a ministry on my own as an American could ultimately be more destructive to the community than letting a Hungarian do it even if it takes three times longer. These are just a few examples.
I have not only had to hold back on things, but have also been pushed to my limits. I had to talk to neighbors and strangers in a language I still very much do not understand. I have been to towns and stores where my lifeline was ‘Google Translate.’ I have had to be vulnerable with the team and students. None of these things come naturally to me.
I wholly believe that I have been where God has wanted me these past few years. It has been hard but rewarding (like all good things are). Even though it is sad that my time in Hungary is ending, I know that I am taking my next leap of faith and trusting God to lead me.
-By Madison Atkinson, OMS Hungary Team Member