Since we have not been to the field yet, I can only speak of our experiences while on deputation. I know that the hard things await us in language school, learning a completely new culture, and then trying to get a ministry off the ground.
The extensive traveling that we do is sometimes difficult. Last night we got home at 11:55, which is incredible! Anytime we have a meeting and are able to get home before midnight it has been a good day. I think, though, that it is not necessarily the amount of traveling, but traveling itself. We are in a different church every service. This is great in some ways. We get to meet different people, I get to pick pastors’ brains, we get to see how each church carries out its ministries. There is a lot to learn while you are on deputation. I recently told one of my friends that a year on deputation is easily worth two years in college.
A drawback of deputation and all the traveling is that there can be no routine for your life. Deputation is very fluid and you have to be flexible. Having five kids and being flexible is not an easy thing to do. I sometimes look at recently married, childless couples who are just starting out on deputation and their life seems like one big fun time. Not at the Bateman house. When we load up it looks like we are about to head out across the prairie on the Oregon Trail. Nothing is easy with five kids. Even a trip to Chick-Fil-A requires great logistic tactics and strategies.
With all of this traveling and an often very hectic life, my children have been able to see more in one year on deputation than I had seen in my thirty-two years before deputation. My son is eight, and when I was his age I had only visited four states. Ian has visited eleven already. My kids have played in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico several times. We have seen the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. We visited a few famous Civil War battlefields, drove through mile-long tunnels in Virginia, rode a camel, and stood where the dream of man flying became a reality for the Wright brothers. Above all this we have been able to meet some of the most loving, generous, and incredible people in the world. So, yes, some days it’s hard, but overall I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
This post is part 7 in the series “Answering Vision” and is taken from the panel discussion questions from the missions conference at Vision Baptist Church you can begin this series here.