Friday, April 17, 2009

The Ugly Missionary #4: Desperate Young Women

I’m sorry for posting about ugliness here at the Koffi House. I do it for a purpose, however. I write these stories so that we will see what we should not be; how we should not think; and what we should not do. There aren’t any “old scores” I’m trying to settle. (Some of these stories will include my own actions.) Rather, I want us to evaluate and adjust, consider and repent, so that we will be effective missionaries wherever we are.

Bee is an MK (Missionary Kid). She grew up on the mission field with her parents as they translated the Bible into the language of a remote tribe. Being an MK is a difficult thing. Not only are you caught between two worlds—the world of your parent’s home culture (the USA for Bee) and the world of your parents ministry (tribal third world)—but you're often caught between two communities right on the mission field, too. The first is the community of the people your parents have come to reach. Some missionary kids grow up in that community and identify with it more than their parents. The second is the community of expatriates on the field. And this is where most MKs land. (That’s right—most!) This is where Bee landed, too.

Bee grew up dreaming about getting married. It was her one life’s desire even though she had never dated. Unfortunately, she wasn’t too impressed with her prospects in the MK community. So many of them were messed up or just plain weird. But when college came and passed Bee was still single and didn’t know what to do. So, she decided to be a missionary in The Location—a place not too far from where her parents had served. While being a missionary is a major decision for most people, it was always kind of the “default” occupation for Bee as an MK. Her heart was really set on getting married and following her husband.

That was Bee’s problem. She was at a very marriageable age, but there were no real prospects. In the missionary community there were single women missionaries and married couples. Few single guys. And Bee would never consider marrying one of The People—they would be below her educational and financial levels and that would be too weird. Bee and her other single female missionary friends would get together regularly to complain about the lack of marriage options on the mission field. They dreaded the thought they would turn out like some of the older women they knew who served as missionaries into retirement without ever getting married. This thought made them shudder.

Finally a single missionary guy moved to The Location. He was a pretty normal guy, but never attracted much attention from the ladies at home. Oh, but this changed when he arrived in The Location. At home he was used to female-male ratios of 51-49%. Here in the location—90-10%. Suddenly, all the single girls were interested in him. Who would land him?

Bee was first in line. She was determined to beat her friends to the prize. She had been studying online the principles of the seduction community and was learning things to do to snag and keep a guy’s interest. The only problem was that she had shared all of these same tips with her single girlfriends and now they were using them, too, to attract the new missionary. So jealousy and fighting broke out among the girls. Bee’s roommate had to find a new place to live.

Bee decided it was time to notch things up and keep the competition down. She let it be known in the missionary community that she was “in love” with the single missionary guy. It became so well-known that people just assumed they were dating. So this had the effect of blocking other interested parties from daring to engage in flirting behavior without risking the appearance of trespass against Bee. Bee was confident she had cornered her man.

Not too long after that the single guy married one of The People. This was a big blow to Bee. How could he?! When she had the opportunity, she purposely humiliated the fiancé of “her man” in front of other nationals. She told her friends how she had been led on. Slowly, Bee reconciled with them. They resumed gathering to complain about the lack of single guys on the mission field and how the single ones who do come marry the locals.

So Bee did what many young women do in desperate situations—she looked for love online. She spent the better part of her evenings chatting on the Internet and filling out personal profiles. On weekends, after most missionaries were already asleep and therefore wouldn’t notice, she would sneak out to the local tourist bar. A few beers wouldn’t hurt anything and it allowed her the opportunity to meet some of the guys traveling through. Her knowledge of The Location was all that was needed to start up a conversation. But these guys never seemed to be very marriage-minded.

Bee became self-conscious about her weight wondering if being a little chubby was keeping the boys away. Bee was not fat, but not skinny either. So from time to time she would force herself to vomit just to make up for eating a little too much. Over time she did lose weight and people noticed. She reassured everyone that this was actually her “normal” weight.

Bee had a national friend who started living with her when she took a new job in a new city. This girl was also single and didn’t want to marry a fellow national. She wanted a foreign husband. So Bee helped her to make online profiles on several Internet sites. She also taught her some of the basic techniques in attracting a man.

Finally, Bee was successful. Her time online paid off. She is now married and no longer living in The Location. Her national friend is still single. She is still applying the principles she learned from Bee hoping they will one day pay off for her, too.


  1. Koffijah

    I know lots of happily married Christian folks met at church or at bible college, but I'm so glad I didn't. There's just too much pressure there - what if things don't work out? Who has to leave the church? Do either of you have to leave? Weird. Sorry - little tangent there. I have a sister by the same name. (Spelled differently, though.)

  2. Katdish--Really, people like Bee (and Ben, who I wrote about in the next post) really need better pastoring. So often missionaries get none or next to no pastoring. Nobody shepherds them, but they often need it even more than most people because of the special stresses of living cross-culturally. This is one of the main things I hope my Ugly Missionary posts bring out--we need to provide for better shepherding of missionaries. And please refer to my post Member Care: Missionaries and Fruit Trees for my views on that. It doesn't happen over e-mail.

  3. Oh the daftivity of my new linkin' skillz!