The Pastor’s Wife

The failed princess

Once upon a time, in the wealthiest land in the whole wide world, there lived a beautiful girl who dreamed of growing up to be a princess, and/or a ballerina, and/or a missionary.

Unfortunately I was too uncoordinated for ballet, too young for Prince Charles, too old for William or Harry, and, well, my excuse for not becoming a missionary is a bit weaker. Frankly, it turns out I’m just a bit too selfish and spoiled to head off into all the world.

Hey, at least I tried. First of all, I married a Pastor. Shouldn’t that automatically put you on some sort of fast track to a missionary position?

And last year, we spent two weeks with an actual missionary couple in an actual Third World country. It sucked. Those people were poor. Sometimes there was no water and no electricity. How are you supposed to get anything done when someone keeps turning off the lights? And the food sucked. There was definitely not a Mexican restaurant or one of those specialty ice-cream stores where a scoop costs $6. How was I supposed to even support the local economy without any decent shops?

Have you ever seen the application form a missionary has to fill out? My husband and I have one, stuck in a drawer in our kitchen, that room full of food that is not being eaten because I am at a Mexican restaurant. One of the questions on the application is: “Describe your understanding of God’s call on your life.” They give you about two inches to write an answer. It doesn’t take that much room to write “I don’t know.” And if I did know, surely God’s call would be bigger than two inches.

Another question is: “Describe a time when you have been under extreme stress and how you responded.” Well, it stressed me out to fill out a missionary application so I responded by giving up and putting it in a drawer for 20 months.

Since the missionary role doesn’t seem to suit me, I thought maybe I could just sit at home on my ass in front of my computer and find a starving orphan somewhere to sponsor. According to the Christian Children’s Fund, I could sponsor a Mexican orphan for just $24 a month. Less than a dollar a day!

I probably spend a good $30 on Mexican food every week. Fifty-two weeks in a year, and I could have sponsored five whole orphans, and part of another one, or possibly a very small one.

I kept looking. The Children’s Hope website kindly informed me I could sponsor a Colombian orphan for $32 per month. A bit more pricey than a Mexican kid but it makes sense because Colombian coffee is so good – which I know from Starbucks – and these kids may well have daily coffee habits to support (which I can fully understand).

I browsed the photos of kids I might sponsor, noticing that one of the orphans was wearing a suit and a tie. What the heck is an orphan doing wearing a suit and a tie? The kid’s got a suit and someone’s got a digital camera (I don’t even have a digital camera) and a website, surely someone around him has the money to buy him a sandwich. But I know I shouldn’t think like that. Anyway, I’m not even going to do any sort of mathematical calculation here. I’m too lazy and I know in my heart I spend more than $32 a month at Starbucks. It’s safe to say I could sponsor a Colombian village with the money spent on my habits.

My husband “sponsors” me to the tune of $900 cash a month, which comes out to about $30 a day. And I can’t even live on that. Between meals out, manicures, shopping, hair-related expenses and eyebrow waxes, I’m constantly running out of cash.

So what about me? I’m feeling needy too. Sometimes it seems like no one cares about about my little nail-polished, perfumed, pretty-panty-wearing, made-up existence. Put my cute face on some website: 35-year-old, failed missionary candidate, living in the wealthiest country in the world, having existential crisis. Surely there’s someone in the Third World who could sponsor my lazy butt. I wouldn’t ask them to pick up my $30-a-day price tag, but maybe they could give me tips on stretching my money, or provide meaningful quotes to put on my fridge, or help me fill out those two inches on the missionary application form, or just send me some good Mexican recipes.

I’m off to Starbucks to get started on my Sponsor a Spoiled, Failed Missionary website.

Carrie S. Martin lives with the Pastor and their three kids in the US Bible Belt.

Issue 5

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 5, Spring 2007, Humanity Has Big Issues.

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Issue 5, Spring 2007

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