A Resignation Letter

During our first term as missionaries in the village of Rwanguba, in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire,) I wrote a resignation letter.

Not really. But I sure wanted to.

Rwanguba is near Rutshuru
Rwanguba is near Rutshuru

So I poured my frustrations into a resignation letter parody. Remember Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (1963), by Allan Sherman? His camp letter was sung to a tune called Dance of the Hours, composed by Amilcare Ponchielli. And so was mine.

You can be sure I wasn’t the only missionary on the verge of sending a resignation letter to the home office. Being a stranger in a strange land is hard!
* new language
* new food
* new money
* new roles
* new inconveniences

For example, the nearest grocery store was 50 miles away in Goma. Our road was made of volcanic rock and resembled a washed-out riverbed when it was dry. So we crawled along, making frequent stops to decide which side of the road was the easiest to negotiate, to pick up passengers, drop off passengers, use the facilities (a bush) or change a tire. The 50-mile trip to town took roughly 4 hours.

Driving on Volcanic Rock
Driving on Volcanic Rock

Of course I ultimately came to my senses when I realized I didn’t have to face troubles alone. Our neighbors, which included villagers as well as other expatriates, gave us tips on how to pray in Swahili, how to gas the car, where to get tomatoes, what to do when the electricity goes out, what to feed guests, how to get rid of army ants, where to go for R & R, and so much more. They showed me that serving God – no matter where we are or what the circumstances – is a great privilege.

Public Health Visit
Public Health Visit

But today, in honor of all the overseas missionaries (as well as kids at camp) who are tempted to quit and come home, I offer you “Dear Home Office.” Sam and Matt, the MKs who sang this parody at a missionary dinner, brought down the house. Thanks again, guys!

Dear Home Office

1. Dear Home Office and my pastor,
Coming here was a disaster.
Crossing ocean, crossing nation,
Wish I’d never written to this mission station.

2. At the start I got malaria,
My first jigger, then filaria.
Only stayed here by persuasion,
Had to help them fight an army ant invasion.

3. I have learned to boil water,
Buy live chickens for to slaughter.
In the kitchen I’m a flunky,
Everything I cook tastes just like rubber ducky.

4. All the schooling to prepare for
Changing tires, playing chauffeur.
They say each job has its merit,
But could you do my work and still grin and bear it?

Chorus
Take me home, oh dear director.
Take me home, I hate this lifestyle.
Muddy roads lead me through jungles where
I might get stranded overnight.

Send plane fare, I promise I will
Not take things for granted,
Such as your advice. Please don’t ignore my fears,
The past six weeks seemed more like years!

5. Dearest foreign secretary,
I can’t be a missionary.
To stay longer would not be wise.
The big problem is my being here, you realize.

6. Wait a minute. They just told me
I’m progressing in Swahili.
Got some mail. Wow, that’s better!
Kindly disregard this resignation letter.

Posted on July 14, 2015

11 thoughts on “A Resignation Letter

  1. Fun and creative way to deal with a daunting situation! Your parody of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” makes me laugh.

    1. Thank you very much – Doug, Judith, Rebekah, and Judy – for your wonderful comments! You make me want to write another parody.

  2. Thanks Norma,

    That pretty much sums it up!

    I’m in Africa this week and memories keep flooding back to my brain!

  3. It reminds me of our stay in mid-west Congo (Zaïre) 1984-87. But no stores nearer than 2 days by car (4-wheelsdrive) or 12-14 hours on MC.

    1. I can’t imagine being 2 days away from a store, Jens. You must’ve had a garden and local vendors of chickens and eggs. Thinking about your being in Africa right now, David, brings back good memories of flying with you near the volcano. Thanks to both of you for commenting!

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