You'll have heard of a swarm of bees and a pod of dolphins. You'll have heard of a crowd of onlookers and a panel of judges. You'll have heard of a bunch of keys and a pack of lies. But how would you describe a group of missionaries? Which collective noun would you use? (A hint ... there is nothing that is currently being used, it's time to get creative!!)
In my experience, when you get a group of missionaries together, there always seems to be a slightly higher concentration of eccentric personalities! Maybe it's because you have to be, to up-sticks and move yourself and/or your whole family somewhere new, to embark on a a career path that is a little out-of-the-ordinary from the mainstream. Who knows? When I was in Tanzania before, at All Nations and now here in Ohio, I don't see any change in that pattern!
Another personality trait that is not uncommon to find amongst missionaries (especially those who are least prepared), are those who have gone into mission and moved away to escape something. I have first hand experience of seeing more than one person start out strong but then realise that wherever they are, they still have to work through whatever situation it was they thought they could avoid ... and then fall apart to some extent. I can't stress the importance of getting everything in order and taking the time to be fully prepared before you commit to mission work.
There are also those who fall somewhere along the 'normal' continuum too! I hope I fall into that category but how far along the line, I guess will be dependent on your own opinions of me and what I'm doing!!!
With all that in mind I was trying to come up with a collective noun to describe missionaries. Like the group photo from our wedding below, all the them have been, are, or plan to be involved in mission work at some point ... but what are we called as a group? I thought maybe a 'potluck', a 'jumble' or a 'mismatch' of missionaries sounded about right! (For alliteration purposes, I'm leaning towards the last option!)
One famous missionary, Jim Elliot, once said "Missionaries are very human folks just doing what they're asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody". I'm thankful that whatever we're called and whatever our personalities, as long as we're willing, God can use us, wherever we are and whatever we're doing!
Let me know what you think. Do you have any other interesting alternatives for a group missionaries? In the meantime, in writing this I have discovered some new & very random collective nouns (& variations) for myself ... an ostentation of peacocks, a smack of jellyfish, a murder of crows, a parcel of hogs, a blessing of unicorns, an ambush of tigers, to name just a few! Here's my new favourite, a mission of monkeys ... that will come as no surprise to those who know me well!