A Conversation with An Itinerating Missionary Couple
By Osias & Desiree Segura-April
What is itineration? Why do missionaries itinerate? What is life really like as a missionary?
When we visit churches, we often get asked these and other questions about what it means to serve as missionaries, and we thought that others might have similar questions. We are Osias and Desiree Segura-April, and we are currently on itineration assignment in the Pacific Northwest and Desert Southwest Conferences.
Osias just finished his first missionary assignment, and Desiree was commissioned in May at General Conference. In July we both started in our new placement. After being a seminary president and professor in the Dominican Republic, Osias now serves in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala as the Regional Coordinator of Curriculum and Small Group Leadership Development. Desiree is serving as the Resource Person for Children at Risk Ministries for the Iglesia Metodista of Nicaragua.
So, let’s sit down with a cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee and chat a bit about life as a missionary…
Q: So, what actually is missionary itineration, and why do missionaries itinerate?
A: Global Ministries asks all missionaries to itinerate at the end of each term, usually every three years. During itineration we visit different churches within the Conference to share about the work God is doing where we are serving. It gives you a chance to come closer to your missionaries and learn about how you can partner with us in God’s mission. We love getting to know people in the churches and feel so blessed by your hospitality! We invite the church to partner with us through prayer, encouragement, visits, and financial donations.
Q: Why do missionaries ask us to give financial donations? Don’t our apportionments cover all of the costs of a missionary?
A: We are so thankful for your apportionments, but they only cover about a third of the costs for missionary salaries and benefits. The rest must be raised through Advance giving and other ways. We are so thankful to all who give to the Advance!
Q: When missionaries come to visit churches they share what they do and where they do it, and it often sounds amazing, courageous, and exemplary. But, who is a missionary in reality?
A: We are just normal people, but we may have some unique qualities. For example, we are willing to go and serve in cross-cultural places and learn another language, culture and way of life. We have to tolerate certain complexities, and we must be willing to accommodate ourselves in another culture, which is never easy. However, we actually enjoy this process.
Q: Really? How can you enjoy what seems like such a hard thing to do?
A: Well, it is hard, but it is also very enriching. In our case, in three years we have been in three countries, due to our first assignment including a partnership between two countries and then transitioning to our new assignment. Our son just turned five, and we realized that we have celebrated his birthdays in five different cities and four different countries (including our home country of the U.S.)! No matter where we go, we leave friends behind, and have to start making new friends in a new place. Loneliness can be difficult to bear at times. But, we also recognize that we have been exposed to an amazing diversity of life and people, and this enriches our understanding of ourselves, our world, and God.
Q: How does a missionary child cope with all of this and having both parents as missionaries?
A: He sees himself as a missionary too, although he may not know exactly what that means. Kids actually seem to adapt to multiple cultural settings easier than adults. We need to learn from them. They just go to into the crowd of kids and start playing by imitating, learning, communicating, and interacting. He is an inspiration to us!
Q: Is it stressful for the family to deal with adapting to a new country?
A: Yes, missionary life can challenge your family and marriage if you are not prepared and willing to look for help when it is needed. Life can be stressful for anyone, anywhere, but when one is immersed into another culture, the worst and the best of our personalities often come to the surface. Extra stress is inevitable, but knowing what to do with it when it gets unmanageable is what is important.
Q: Does Global Ministries provide you with help if needed?
A: Yes, Global Ministries is a very mature organization, always learning, changing and adapting to the challenges of a changing world. All missionaries have access to professional counseling over Skype if they seek it out. Osias has also met with a spiritual director and life coach on his own and has benefitted greatly from this.
Q: Do you miss living in the US?
A: There are certain things that we miss a lot, like our friends and family, and some silly things that we miss, like large supermarkets with lots of choices and certain foods. But, I (Osias), for example, wouldn’t be happy living in US suburbia. I need more of a “messy” society to live in, I guess.
Q: Between the two of you, you have worked as seminary professors, pastors, consultants, writers, and children/youth pastors. What else would you like to do?
A: We are enjoying very much what we are doing right now. We would like to continue serving in mission, perhaps in the future with a different challenge in a new assignment.
Q: The General Board of Global Ministries’ tagline is “Connected in Mission From Everywhere To Everywhere.” What do they mean by this?
A: Well, I (Osias) am a Costa Rican who has served in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and now in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. I have also done pastoral ministry and seminary teaching in Costa Rica and the US. I think I am a good example of the meaning of doing mission from everywhere to everywhere, as part of the global Methodist family.
Q: Why do we still need missionaries?
A: We still need missionaries because God is at work everywhere, and as God’s people we have the chance to partner in God’s mission! We are all called to engage in what God is doing in a changing world, locally or globally. The church is called to renew itself or die and to connect to the rest of the world. In the case of international missionaries, Global Ministries always works with local partners in each mission assignment. They search to match each missionary according to the placement needs and our gifts, talents, and training. They only send missionaries to do something that a local leader cannot do. We go to do a job in partnership with a local organization, often the Methodist churches in that country. However, we seek to work ourselves out of our jobs by training local leaders to replace us. It is a privilege to serve together in ministry with our local partners as we all seek to partner in God’s mission!
Osias and Desiree are Global Ministries missionaries serving in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If you would like to support Osias or Desiree, you can send your financial gift to The PNW Conference Treasurer’s Office: 816 S. 216th St. #2, Des Moines, WA 98198. On your check, indicate: Advance #3021887 (Osias), Advance #3022171 (Desiree), or Advance #14854A (Children-at-Risk Ministries/Small Group Ministries). Thank you!
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