8 Attitudes You Should Pack

TIMO team members are only allowed to bring two pieces of luggage to the field, but they are encouraged to bring these eight additional items in their heart. These attitudes are core to the survival of each team member and they will be tested on a regular basis by the demands of the ministy and team experience. We suggest that you take a look at your own heart to see if these attitudes are something you would like to refine through the TIMO program.

  1. Flexibility This is a watchword for African missionaries where almost nothing goes according to plan. Planes, trains, and busses don’t come when they say they will. People usually don’t come when they say they will, and then others come when they never told you that they would. Plans change on a moment to moment basis. It’s enough to drive an organized westerner to distraction - if he or she is not prepared for it.
  2. Stubborn Joy Change is stressful! Humans generally do not like wholesale change but prefer incremental change; unfortunately, you will be going in for the wholesale variety. Your attitude towards these changes will largely determine your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Cheerfully embrace the changes in food, language, friends, living situation, role, etc. You can’t be cheerful all the time, and you will still get depressed, but you will survive more easily than if you get dragged into each change “kicking and screaming”. Initially, you may not be able to choose many of the circumstances you find yourself in while on TIMO, but you will always be able to choose your response to those circumstances. Choose stubborn joy.
  3. Teachability Many first term missionaries return from the field and say, “Father God worked more on me than through me.” The Lord, no doubt, has much to teach you during your two years on TIMO - are you willing to listen? Much of your continuing education will be taught by those whom you expected to come minister to. Are you willing to be taught lessons of life by Africans? Are you prepared to be shown your weak points by the Holy Spirit, your team members and nationals? Look for the lesson. Come with an open and expectant heart.
  4. Commissioned by the Lord One day you will be stuck on the side of a road in the rain with a broken down bus or one evening you will be laying in bed staring at the ceiling because your neighbors are fighting, and you will think, “Now, how is it that I got myself into this?” These are the moments to recall the gracious acts of our Lord toward you. Remember how He opened the right doors, remember how He moved your heart and motivated you, remember how your financial support came in. Our God is not a capricious God; He did not send you to Africa with TIMO on a whim. He knew what He was doing, and He still does.
  5. My Expectations Will Not Be Reality The degree of disappointment and disillusionment one experiences in life is directly proportional to the size of the gap one has between expectations and reality. This little handbook is an attempt to shrink that gap, but there is no substitute for experience, and your experience will undoubtedly be different than what you now envision. Hold your expectations loosely, and when some of them must die, let them go without rancor.
  6. Respect There is a stress on the need to show respect in most African cultures that is largely foreign to the west. In this regard, Africans are much closer to the cultures of the Old and New Testament - and perhaps also closer to God’s will. Consequently, this is an area where our cultural background can chop us off at the knees in our attempts to move forward in relationship. Open disagreement is dangerous territory. Older people need to be honored and greeted first and deferred to. Flaunting of social customs is tantamount to “dissing” or showing disdain for the culture. We will still make silly errors, but if we genuinely value and seek to honor each person we meet, that attitude will be evident to our hosts.
  7. Forgiveness Your sending council will blow it, TIMO En Gedi will disappoint you, your team leader will undoubtedly mess up and hurt you at times, your fellow team members will sometimes be extremely irritating, the national church will get under your skin, and the people you are serving will occasionally be the biggest pack of miserable ingrates you have ever seen. Forgive. Not only in obedience to Jesus do you need to do this, but for your own sanity you need to do this. At times your stress level will be off the charts and you will want to blame someone, anyone, for your unhappy state; there will always be a likely candidate. Forgive. To forgive is our duty, and it is our privilege - an ability given by the Holy Spirit who demonstrates His presence in us. Forgive. Besides, you aren’t exactly perfect, yourself.
  8. Perseverance Come with the thought that no matter what, you will persevere for the two years of the TIMO team. Those marriages that succeed are those that begin with the presupposition that divorce is not an option. Bring that same attitude to the team.