What's a Furlough?
randal, April 12, 2004 3:23:00 PM BST
by J. Randal Matheny
This missionary is heading out in a few hours to what many people call a "furlough". Military term for time away from the field. Here are my rushed thoughts on a furlough.
A furlough is an exercise in patience. Who can take care of the house for six weeks? Who can start the car up so the battery won't run down and the tires rot? Who can collect the house mail, and go to the post office box? Who can pay the bills while we're gone? And whose passports are expired? (This year: Leila's U.S. passport. Meaning: a trip to the consulate in Sao Paulo.) Go to the airport five hours early instead of two, since the customs people are on strike.
A furlough is an exercise at juggling. Setting up appointments at congregations to report and speak. Coordinating visits with family. Finding U.S. transportation. Reservations and tickets. Returning tickets when Delta wants to change flight numbers. Picking up new tickets on day of travel. (I was sweating that one.) Hiring a van to transport baggage and bodies to the airport.
A furlough is time away from work. Who can do this and that, preach in my place, go to the new congregation, teach that class? Finish evangelistic study. Interrupt another study and pray the person doesn't lose interest in the interval. Try to keep the magazine from falling further behind. Leave off that visit that needed to be made.
A furlough is a time of reflection and prayer. How can I do better, different, more, less? Distant from the work, the questions come quick and fast: where am I failing, where am I getting it right, who can be trained, who can be encouraged more, who can be reached that I haven't tried before?
A furlough is a time for connections. See how the family is doing. Renew contacts with churches, elders, preachers, missions committees. Take wife for a walk in the park, kids to anywhere except McDonalds. Attend a few funerals, maybe a wedding, even a golden anniversary.
A furlough is a time for thanksgiving. So many years, so many blessings, so many demonstrations of the Lord's care. So many souls, so many efforts, so few workers. So many ... excuse me, telephone.
A furlough is a time to hoof it. Wife just called and said she's ready and I need to pick her up, take her home, go get new tickets, put a document in the mail, and finish a Forthright article.
At least the last one is easy.
But I'm sure I'm forgetting something.
That's what a furlough is.
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