What a missionary does with his time while traveling full-time on deputation will greatly depend on his family situation, but using that time wisely as a good steward is absolutely necessary. Here are some pointers that my family found helpful to use our time wisely, and yet enjoy the journey when we were on deputation:
- Allow plenty of time to get to your meeting. Do not cut things so close that there is no time to get out and stretch and still arrive early. When your family gets out of the car after being cooped up for 9-12 hours straight, there is no way that the kids can act like angels or for you and your wife to feel refreshed with a real smile—everything will be stressful and fake.
- Do office work on the go. With advancing technology, it is becoming much easier to do these things on the road. I used a hands-free device and my wife punched in the numbers and took notes while I made phone calls. We were able to confirm meetings and book more meetings while driving down the road. We even wrote prayer letters this way!
- Read books, play games, count miles, and stop at interesting places along the way.
- Make memories. There needs to be a balance to this—especially if you are treating deputation as a full-time job—but take time to see and do things that you would not normally get to. There are many things that you can do for free or very inexpensively as you travel from one place to another. We were able to go to Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, Gettysburg, and the Golden Gate Bridge. However, we had just as much fun in some campgrounds and Walmart parking lots!
- Give a tract to every person along the way: cashiers, waiters, truck drivers, gas attendants, hotel clerks,—even tow-truck drivers! We mounted a holder for the tracts right on the dash to remind us constantly. I don’t know how many tracts we passed out, but it was a whole bunch! We tried to get tracts from the church that we were in for the time that we were in that area, and then had generic tracts for all the in-between times. There were a few times that people in Texas got a tract from New Jersey, but they still received the Gospel!
- Eat and exercise. Deputation is a time of much eating. Mission conference food is the best ever! Because of this, it is a good idea to have time for exercise. We were not the best example of this, however, we really tried to take walks and take the stairs instead of the elevators to keep things in check. (Language school is the time to get back off what you put on!)
- Take time during the week to visit extended
family. Once you get to the field, you will not be able to go to all the
special family events and reunions. When we were in their area, we took time to see our grandparents,
uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Plus, this usually
means a free place to stay!
We had some of the sweetest time with our extended family and can honestly say that we are probably closer to them than most of our other siblings are—just because we made a personal visit and had some quality time. We email all of them regularly, and they pray for us and would do anything for us that they could.
- Work around the churches. We were janitors, bus mechanics, secretaries, babysitters, and grounds keepers. These jobs are not below a missionary. These actions show a servant’s heart. Many pastors will not ask for your help, so you must volunteer. If the grass is high, ask for the lawnmower!
- Here is a rough schedule of what our week looked
like during deputation:
Sunday—serve through teaching, preaching, music, and fellowship
Monday—work around the church we were just in on Sunday; do written correspondence
Tuesday—phone and written correspondence; check vehicle conditions for travel
Wednesday—travel and preparation for the church service
Thursday—travel and family day
Friday—travel and work at church or teen activities, etc.
Saturday—soulwinning and lighten the load of the Pastor; prepare for preaching and teaching; set up display table