When you Feel Marooned (For Missionaries and Non)

Few of us have ever found ourselves marooned on a desert island with no compass. But many things in life can make us feel marooned. Like relocating to another country, for example, because it upends your entire world. Quite literally, if you have moved across the equator as well!

Nothing seems to be where it belongs. Offices, appointments, and queues may not work the same way. Stores don’t always sell what one might expect to find. Upon moving here, we spent weeks trying to find matches for our stove. Who would have thought you could only buy matches in a tobacco store?

“You don’t need an appointment to talk to your family doctor,” they said, “just show up.” But they neglected to mention that patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. And unable to figure it all out or even ask, I returned home after an hour’s wait. With a sick child who had been vomiting up all day and without getting in to see the doctor.

Even buying simple items like clothes hangers and fabric can prove difficult. I felt so proud when I knew just what to ask for. Only to have a clerk who refused to sell it to me! “This fabric will not work for what you want to make,” she insisted. What difference did it make to her which fabric I wanted to use for my kitchen curtains?

We never managed to find matches that year. We bought a lighter at the coffee bar, relieved that we could light our gas stove and cook!

And the doctor’s office? We were carless that year. So I had to drag my daughter back home through northern Italy’s snow, both of us crying all the way. And then determination set in, and I dragged her back out again. Only to learn that the doctor had finished seeing patients for the day. But I dug my heels in — my child was very ill. The dottoressa saw us that evening.

That fabric? I never got it. That adamant woman was too formidable for my then limited Italian. Even though the kids and I had walked 1.2 miles (2 km) to buy it. But I had to leave the shop without fabric and frustrated. And once again, I cried all the way home. I was homesick, frustrated, and fed up with a country where things didn’t work right.

I felt marooned, without a compass. And I’m sure you have too at times.

So what can we do when feeling so lost?

First, remember that God promises to always be with us. And keep your sense of humor.

Those challenging situations made me grumble, crumble, and burst into tears. But looking back, all I see are fun, memorable adventures!

  • We look back and laugh.
  • We rejoice in the fond memories.
  • We cherish the wisdom of valuable lessons learned.
  • We recount the joy of the journey.
  • And we relive the luxury of all the drama we enjoyed for free!

It’s in such moments that life becomes better than any adventure novel or suspense film! Where else can you get such dramatic entertainment — with a free front row seat?

No it’s not easy trying to figure things out with a sick child in tow. It is difficult to go back home and stare at your bare window. Curtainless because of your own defeat. Or having to eat nothing but sandwiches and pizza because you’re too dumb to buy matches.

But you learn a lot. You develop a sense of humor and even the ability to laugh at yourself. And you build a tenacity that will stand you in good stead all through life! Remember that God is always with you.

And that a healthy sense of humor makes a useful travel aid! When frustration and despair threaten to take you off course, a dose of laughter can put you back on track. Reminding you that the current situation is only temporary and probably not as bad as it might seems.

Most of all, when you feel lost and marooned, remember that God promises never to leave nor forsake us!

I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.

Hebrews 13:5 NLT

Images: Island by Ron Heuvel | Matches by Alicja | Hangers by Conger Design | Driftwood by Kanenori | Others ©SignoraSheila | SignorMario.

9 thoughts on “When you Feel Marooned (For Missionaries and Non)

  1. You developed tenacity and resilience at a time when life was hard, unknown, and more complicated than you anticipated. I love that you can look back and laugh–especially at the drama. You grew your humor and your faith. I love that God is uncompromising with His love and faithfulness. Thanks for the picture of some of your story. The whole doctor thing would have put me over the edge!


  2. Wonderful encouragement here Sra. Sheila. There are times in life, even right here on my ranch, that I feel abandoned and alone. Times when it feels I’m cut off from everything, and nothing seems right. Those are times when it’s so important to remember we are never alone. Whether we’re His or not yet (I love that word “Yet”), He is there waiting for us to call upon Him. I do love our un-intrusive God. He will always be near, but He always waits for us to invite Him in. God’s blessings my friend, and grazie mille.


  3. Wonderful truth here, Sheila. Praise God for a sense of humor that can (in time) turn difficult circumstances into laughter! Such a good point to remember as new troubles surface. We need to train ourselves to say, “Someday we’ll laugh about this!” By looking ahead with that thought, we can relieve some of the tension in the present moment.


  4. Now of course sandwiches and pizza would have sounded great when I was a 22 year old first time dad, but I am positive that Nancy would have had strong opinions to the contrary!


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