As missionaries, it’s important to stay connected.
Stephanie is a new missionary, staying with me for a bit before she goes out to explore the rest of her mission field in Europe. She arrived first in Barcelona and got a SIM chip for her phone. But she was unable to unblock the phone to use it. I had an old flip phone that had always worked well for me, and I gave it to her. She was glad to get it, but the chip wouldn’t work in that phone, either.
We came up with some theories why it wouldn’t work:
- It’s a 4G SIM in a 3G phone
- It is actually only good in Spain (though they told her it was for international use)
- My phone may have stopped functioning
Whatever the issue, it became clear that we needed to seek professional help to figure this out because Stephanie needed to be able to call in case she got lost or something. So we went to a phone store. The first one had an unfriendly salesperson who quickly sent us away, saying that they would only sell a phone and / or SIM with a contract. The second one also had an unfriendly salesperson who said that they didn’t know how to solve our problem and sent us away.
The third one had a very friendly salesperson who was sure that she had the solution for us: she would sell Stephanie an Italian SIM chip for €20, which included unlimited calls and text for a month in Italy, and 200 gigabytes of data that she could use inside or outside of Italy. Her friendliness and positive attitude regarding Stephanie’s problem made the offer very tempting. But I excused us, saying that we would return after considering it over a coffee (I could do this since I was translating their conversation).
As we walked out of the store, I confided to Stephanie how the salesperson’s friendliness had tempted me to accept her offer. But I wasn’t convinced that this was the ideal solution to her problem. So we went and got a gelato and talked things over.
Stephanie’s phone was blocked for calls or using other SIM chips, but she was able to use it for internet at my house, using my Wi-Fi. So I asked her: “Do you need internet while you’re away from the house? You can always find a café or other free internet point.”
She said that the only reason to have internet outside of the house would be for a map app. But she pointed out that she had downloaded a map app that doesn’t need internet because it uses the phone’s GPS.
So I suggested that rather than get services that she doesn’t need, why doesn’t she buy a regular phone SIM for about €5 that will work in Italy. Then when she goes on to her other destinations she can do the same in those countries. Stephanie agreed, thrilled to have come to a workable solution. Then she said: “You know, I think the Spanish SIM was probably only internet and no calls.”
So we went to a phone store that we hadn’t visited before. I told the salesperson that we wanted to buy a prepaid SIM chip for the flip phone. She sold it to Stephanie without any problem, and an hour later, it was connected and working perfectly.
As missionaries, we need to be careful about how we spend our money, and examining a problem like Stephanie’s over a coffee (or a gelato) is a great way to find the right solution. I was glad that my time as a traveling missionary helped Stephanie as she steps into her own traveling ministry.
Helping Stephanie through this problem made me realize that God will likewise provide someone to help me through these kinds of challenges. I have a lot of excitement and hope for the future, traveling again through my mission field. Will I miss my apartment? Probably. But Peter said:
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls, (1 Peter 2:11, emphasis mine).
I have moved so much in my life that I am well aware that I am a temporary resident wherever I am. And here in Italy, I have never stopped being a foreigner. In fact with each passing year I feel more and more foreign in the US, too. But this is not a reason for sadness. It’s just a reminder that Heaven is my only true home. God is good!