Serving as a Single Missionary with Sarita Hartz

May 16, 2024

 

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Single missionaries, we see you. You make up a third of missionaries on the field, and 80-85 percent of you are women. We need to know the unique challenges you face and the unique strengths you bring!

In this interview with coach and former missionary, Sarita Hartz, we explore the common things you experience on the field. We also discuss how those of us who serve you and work with you, can empower you to be all God’s called you to be.

 

Resources

 

 

Ways to Connect With Sarita Hartz

 

Last Week’s Episode

What Does Today’s Missionary Look Like? with Dr. Mary Ho

 

Transcript From the Episode

[00:00:35] StephanieWelcome to this episode of the Modern Day Missionaries podcast. Today, I’m so happy to have with us Sarita Hartz. Sarita, thanks for joining us. Welcome.

[00:00:43] Sarita: Hi, Stephanie. So honored to be here with you today.

[00:00:47] Stephanie: So good to have you. And I know I should be saying Sarita, because that’s more what you go by. It is the, the Spanish speaker in me. I, it just comes out. So Sarita, Sarita. I do, however, Yes, your name is beautiful in both languages.

[00:01:02] Sarita: Oh, thank you.

[00:01:04] Stephanie: So Sarita is an author, she’s a life coach, blogger, podcaster, and a compassion fatigue expert. She’s a passionate advocate for women in ministry and on the mission field and just loves self care for women in general. She lived in a war torn region of Uganda for seven years as a missionary and while there she founded a non profit for girl child soldiers and sex trafficked women.

She’s the host of the podcast, Missionary Life, and her memoir, Healing Her, about her life in Uganda will be released this fall, which is so exciting. And now, Sarita, you live with your husband and son in Puerto Rico, is that right?

[00:01:39] Sarita: yeah. So I live in Puerto Rico. It’s beautiful and sunny here today.

[00:01:44] Stephanie: I can tell you’ve got a sleeveless shirt on for people who are watching video and I’m, you know, a little more bundled up here. 

Well, we’re going to be talking today about singleness in missions, which is a topic we have not touched on before. And, , especially looking at it from the side of women in missions.

Now we’re going to touch on singleness in general, but I know as you and I were talking, Sarita, Women are really the missionaries who are most predominantly single on the field. When you look at the statistics, what have you found?

[00:02:15] Sarita: Yeah. So the World Christian Database says that there are 445, 000 global missionaries and one third of those are single. But out of that, there’s 70 to 80 percent of missionaries are single women. So that is a huge group of women that, , you know, and of course I’m a woman, so I’ll be speaking from a female perspective here today.

, but it’s also interesting to me that singleness is the fourth common most reason that appointees don’t make it to the mission field. And so I just feel it’s really important that women pursue their calling and don’t allow themselves to be held back by their marital status.

[00:02:54] Stephanie: Which is so good. Okay. I appreciate that you brought that up there because we’re looking at singleness in terms of women being able to get on the field first of all, and then once they’re there. And singleness is not something that you have or you’re affected by. It’s wonderful to be single and to be called by God.

So like you said, our marital status does not give us a status other than simply where we find ourselves in life. 

And I’d love to hear a little bit about what that was like for you because you have lived overseas being single and now being married. So what was that like for you being a single female missionary?

[00:03:32] Sarita: yes. And I want to address that question. And before I jump into that, I just wanted to speak really quickly to the single missionaries out there, because this is something I just feel like the Lord put on my heart, that I just want to acknowledge how difficult it is to be single on the field, All of you out there, you’re doing brave, you’re doing brave, hard things, and I’m so proud of you.

You’re dealing with loneliness, depression, anxiety, and I just want everyone to feel today that your emotions are welcome here. I know that the enemy wants to isolate you and make you feel like you can’t reach out to anyone for support, or to tell your true feelings to, and I understand how that feels.

When I was a single mother. woman on the mission field. I felt very isolated. So I just want to say there’s so much grace here. There’s so much love here. God sees your heart of obedience. And even if you feel alone, his presence is there with you going before you and behind you. And he hasn’t forgotten about you.

So that’s just something the Lord put on my heart to say to the single missionaries out there, because I really do truly know what it, what it feels like to be out there. 

So a bit about my story. I was a sort of untraditional missionary. I went out without a mission sending organization.

So I was 24 when I began planning it and 25 when I became a missionary. So it was, It was daunting. I took my first trip to Rwanda and Uganda for about six months, all by myself, to do research on how I could help Girl Child Soldiers, and those who’ve been affected by war. And I came back from that trip and knew that the Lord had asked me and called me to start a nonprofit.

So it took me about a year to start that nonprofit and raise funds. And then I moved back and opened up a home for rehabilitation home that offered counseling, vocational training, and we had a daycare for the little babies. And I actually lived with the girls in the home. And I was there about, Nine months before I met my husband at a hostel, actually.

He was only there on a two-week trip, doing, microfinance work. And we had this sort of whirlwind romance. We ended up eloping in Zanzibar when I was 27. So I guess it was about two years of being single on the field. And, we’ve been married 15 years now, so I guess it worked out.

[00:05:59] Stephanie: Oh my gosh. Okay. 

Question for you. When thinking about singleness, it seems almost like when we talk about missionaries who are single, singleness is like the defining characteristic that really, well defines them. And, and there’s so much more that they have to offer beyond simply their status. Why do you think that is that singleness?

so defines them rather than all the other things about them.

[00:06:29] Sarita: Yeah, I think that in our society, we tend to elevate being married and we tend to put that as sort of this hierarchical thing that we are supposed to achieve. You know, we’re supposed to get married. And so I think that for single people, they tend to feel a little bit like second class citizens, you know, that they are somehow, a little bit less than, and I think that on the field. It is strange when you’re in foreign cultures where they assume that if you’re a woman out there that you’re married. And so I had this all the time where I would get these marriage proposals and it was just as if Because I was a woman out there and I was single that I was somehow less than or less valuable and So it is it does really define people in a way and I think it’s, unfortunately, kind of a negative connotation And I think that a lot of single missionaries feel that

[00:07:30] Stephanie: Do you think that’s more felt by females than males?

[00:07:34] Sarita: I do I think that when I was going out, I definitely felt a sense from, you know, board members and supporters and fundraisers that I was talking to, they would kind of look at me like, oh, you’re this young female, what are you going to do out there in Uganda by yourself? And it was sort of, sort of this sense of, you know, you didn’t feel like you had as much maybe authority or they didn’t believe in your drive or your purpose or your calling maybe as much as they would for a male.

So I definitely felt that and it was, it was challenging. I had to surmount that and really believe in myself and believe in the call that God had for me.

[00:08:15] Stephanie: Yeah. Well, especially at, like you said, going out there by yourself, what was that like being there on your own and not being with a team or group of people?

[00:08:23] Sarita: Really challenging. , I think firstly, you know, I had to overcome this feeling of a lot of people told me that I couldn’t do it. So Because I was a young single woman, I’d heard, I really was determined that I could do it and that God had called me. But I had heard so many stories of women, you know, who ended up getting married and had kids and they had this dream on their heart, you know, to go to Thailand, but they never got to go, which is totally understandable once you have a family that becomes such a priority and a focus in your life.

But, , for me, I just, I just knew that I wanted to be obedient and I wanted to follow God in this and it was hard to overcome the fears traveling as a single woman. , I think that, I had this dream in my heart, but I was going alone, and it, it felt like I was constantly hyper vigilant for my own safety and my own well being.

So, you know, I remember I was in Uganda, I was in the back of this boda boda, which is like a glorified moped, and I was trying to get home, and the driver started driving off. in this direction that was unfamiliar to me in this tall grass. And I was worried, I was afraid that he was going to sexually assault me.

And I finally, you know, demanded that he take me the way that I knew. And I told him I had a husband waiting at home for me because I used to wear like a fake wedding band just to kind of ward off, these marriage proposals and also this feeling that, you know, I have someone waiting for me. So, you know, don’t, don’t try it, buddy.

[00:09:52] Stephanie: Yeah.

[00:09:53] Sarita: But I think that You know, in some of these foreign cultures, especially in Muslim cultures or where I was in Uganda, you know, women, you wear your femininity You wear your femininity around like a bruise like vulnerable to the elements in other cultures It’s you’re not as respected if you don’t have a husband which you know used to really infuriate me but I think that for me, the hardest part was probably the loneliness.

That was the greatest challenge, being responsible for my welfare all the time. I was caring for a lot of other people, but I didn’t really have anyone to care for me,, no one to really talk to at the end of the day. I often wondered if I’d given up my chance, you know, to get married. I was worried that I would never get married, and that was a really difficult sacrifice to make.

Because I was living in such a remote region. It was really isolating. I would often, you know, break down with tears of hopelessness, homesickness, missing friends and family, missing, you know, birthdays and funerals and weddings, and I was dealing with a lot of the suffering and grief of witnessing such pain in these girls’ lives that I was ministering to. And it just felt like the whole weight of the responsibility was on my shoulders. And I didn’t feel like I had that sense of, you know, community that I so desperately needed, you know, which is part of the reason why I ended up, you know, getting into writing was I wanted to create this online community where we could share and talk about our emotions and feelings.

And, , I think also not, really being able to set boundaries. So I think that, you know, I was living with the girls, I was full-time house mother, and I didn’t really know at that time that I should be setting more boundaries and doing more self care and taking care of myself. So I think as a single person, it’s really hard to set the boundaries because there’s a lot of expectations on you that you’re going to be always available and you’re going to be always available to those that are in need, you’re going to be always available for the ministry. So that was definitely a large part of what I battled and. Lastly, I think just not, you know, having that spiritual community that I longed for. You know, you really are the church, you know, when you’re living there. You are the one that is providing, this God’s love to people and creating this environment.

And so I would often have to look online for groups or you know, take trainings online or try to get infilling somewhere. , but it’s, it’s really easy to isolate ourselves when we feel lonely and we can enter this shame spiral that no one cares about us. But I think that I’m now, you know, I understand now what I didn’t then, which is so important to reach out and be authentic and honest.

And we really need community. And I know how hard it is to build that. So I’m not saying that lightly, but it’s really important to reach out to a friend or person to let them know you’re struggling.

[00:12:58] Stephanie: Yeah. Okay. So it sounds like a couple of things that you would have done differently knowing what you know now, or have different sets of boundaries, different kinds of boundaries, more boundaries, been even more proactive about finding community. 

What are some other things you wish you could have told yourself back then knowing what you know now?

[00:13:18] Sarita: I think that God didn’t need me to become a martyr for him. God didn’t need me to, you know, sacrifice the whole of myself. He knew that I was longing in my heart to be obedient, but I think that I really had this, when I was younger, more of a perfectionist drive. I wasn’t as confident and secure in myself back then.

And I didn’t understand the depth of it. I would just love, you know, to tell that girl that she doesn’t have to take all of it on her shoulders and that God wants to take it and just to be able to relax into his love and that he is the one doing the work and he will complete the work that he started.

And I’m just a tool. I’m just a vessel, but I’m not the end all be all. I can’t, , I think that when you’re, when I was over there, everything was so life and death. And so it felt like, okay, you know, if I don’t pick up the phone at, at 3am and get this person to the hospital, you know, they might die. And I felt the responsibility of, you know, children’s lives on my shoulders.

And so I think that, looking back, I wish I could have told myself too that God really wanted to love me and take care of me just as much as I was trying to take care of others. So, yeah, this is all the processing that I had to go through when I was writing my memoir and just all these healing and lessons and the journey that I went through, because I think that in our, our well meaning, you know, and, and wanting to do good, sometimes we, we go beyond what we are, our own capacity and, you know, that can lead to burnout and that can lead to a lot of emotional issues.

And so I think that I would tell myself, you know, you can, you’re doing the best that you can and you don’t have to do it all. And in fact, you need to say no, you need to take care of yourself. You need to love yourself and let God love you first.

[00:15:36] Stephanie: Yeah. So thinking about some of these missionaries, I know there are some serving who they feel called to singleness and they’re loving it. And this is when I say loving it, they still experience loneliness. It’s still difficult, I’m sure. But I mean, they’re really content in where God’s placed them and aren’t necessarily looking to get married.

And then on the other hand, you’ve got single missionaries, like you had mentioned, who would really love to get married. It’s a huge hope for them. How can they stay content and enjoy where they’re at right now while still hoping and waiting and praying for what might be next?

[00:16:14] Sarita: That’s a hard one. It is so hard to stay content when you are longing for something. And I think that I would try to give them the perspective that this is actually an amazing time in your life. You know, when I look back at my life, In Uganda, it is literally some of the best memories that I have. I mean, just being able to live out my dream and my calling at such a young age, it was such a gift to have a heart that was undivided and I could just totally throw myself into whatever God was asking of me without worrying about what other people would think, without worrying about caring for family and children and husband and all the responsibilities that I, I now have, I just see that I had so much freedom and I had so much ability and capacity, you know, I’m in my forties now, you know, and you just do not have the same energy like as when you’re younger and you’re single and you’re in your twenties or your thirties.

And I just say, let God use that energy. Let him use that enthusiasm. Let him use, you know, yes, we’re all sort of naive when we go into missions, especially when we’re young, but, but I think part of that is we have to be a little crazy. We have to be crazy to go into missions. And so, you know, let God. Use that and the passion that you have and go for it.

You know, I think that it was an amazing adventure with Jesus. He became a husband to me. He became like my best friend, the intimacy, the presence that was developed in those moments was so sweet. And I look back at those memories as some of the most special of my life. So I would just say, you know, do the thing.

Just, just do it. Say yes, say yes. And, and know that God is with you. And, you know, I know it’s difficult. I’ve, I’ve been through, you know, I went through years of infertility, you know, waiting for a baby. And so I know that people can feel that same longing when they’re longing for a spouse. And, It is so hard to, but I, I think that what I, what I learned was that I could be happy in the present moment.

I could really try to build a life that I enjoyed and I could make the best of things instead of, you know, feeling like, you know, woe is me. I don’t have these things, you know, I, I just. You know, it’s a very rich time in your life when you’re single, where you have this unique ability to be able to pour into friendships and pour into your work.

And I think that using all of that energy and that margin that you have for the gospel is just, yeah, such a beautiful thing.

[00:19:15] Stephanie: It really is. And, and in every season of life, there’s going to be good parts and difficult parts. You know, I was just reading a new book by Arthur Brooks and, and Oprah Winfrey, and they’re talking about happier-ness and instead of happiness, like we look for this happiness. Like, it’s better to say happier-ness, because you’re never really looking to be a hundred percent perfectly happy.

Like, that’s not, that’s not gonna happen. It’s never going to happen. There’s always this tension between some difficult things and some happy things, and they were saying actually, the happiest people are the people who are who have some difficult things in their life in addition to the happy, and they can sit with both and appreciate the beauty in both.

That tension is something that we kind of need. I mean, you think about the kinds of stories we’re drawn to, novels or movies, the only types of stories that are like pure happy are the stuff that’s made for like two-year-olds. And even by the time you get to three and four year old TV shows, I mean, there’s a little bit of tension. Like a brother is fighting with his sister. 

We need some tension in the stories because then there’s the resolution of the tension. So the second somebody does get married or have a child, a new tension is introduced to the story and a new type of happiness. So it is, it’s, it’s learning to be content with both of those things and asking God to help me find the joy in every season. 

Obviously, some are easier to be happy in than others. Let’s be real. There are some seasons we just want to skip through. It’s like 80 percent hard and 20 percent happy. But, but there is. Yes, there is. There’s, there’s joy in it. And, so I appreciate you highlighting that. 

So, thinking about teams, I know you didn’t have the experience of necessarily working with a team when you were on the, the field, but I know a lot of single missionaries are working with teammates. And what would you say maybe to churches or organizations? Or let’s look at it in two ways. First, let’s look at teams. The married people that are serving with single people on their teams, how can they best support them?

[00:21:15] Sarita: Yeah. That’s a great question. So I actually did a survey of single missionaries a while back and there was so much humanity and  just heart-wrenching vulnerability that came through that. And I, I think I’ll just speak to some of the things that they mentioned because it was really powerful. They said that they would often feel like they wanted to feel like their time was valuable, even though they didn’t have families to care for. So, I think that oftentimes we can place a greater burden on single missionaries. You know, okay, they can be the babysitter, or they can do these things. And I think that understanding that they need that margin for self care, for their mental health, for exercise and self reflection.

So, not overworking them or overburdening them. You know, just because you might think that they have more free time, just not making those assumptions. , and I think also just inviting them into community, you know, they’re far from home, they’re far from loved ones, you know, set a place for them at the table, you know, invite them to dinner, invite them to small group, you know, have empathy for their situation and what they’re in and just, you know, really, you know, see them as an asset to your community, even if, even if they are single, like they still have a lot of value to give. And, you know, I just, I think that we need to stop thinking about it in sort of a hierarchical way, , that somehow being married is, it’s like, there’s like more like glorified or like holier or something like that. And just, you know, really getting to know them and getting to know their heart and, Getting to know, , who they are and their likes and dislikes.

And, you know, I remember we would just, , we had some single volunteers that were with us in Uganda, and so we would just, you know, we’d have like a taco night and just invite them over and we’d hang out, just one of them to feel a part of a family, even though they were, you know, far away from their families.

And so I think that’s really important.

[00:23:34] Stephanie: That was one of the biggest things that we heard when we were there. We had a missionary internship with a lot of young adults, a lot of singles. And so we would, we’d have them over to our house and they would go, Oh, it just feels good to be with a family. I think that the loneliness, like you mentioned, and that longing for being in community and having somebody who’s kind of like, not necessarily a mom and dad, cause maybe there wasn’t as big of an age difference, but still somebody who kind of represents that, I think, is reassuring.

And for us, I mean, I think about us, we had little kids, but I loved having them over because for our younger kids, they had then role models and like big brothers and sisters. So it’s really beneficial for everybody when you make that effort. , so I love that you brought that up about family. And then you also made such a good point about how we, I think, could allow married people to have more boundaries than single people?

Like they, they have each other and they’ve got the kids so they have to say no. But it’s like if you’re single you’re not allowed to have boundaries. You have to be the one to say yes to everything and that’s not okay either.

[00:24:34] Sarita: No, it’s not true. Yeah.

[00:24:36] Stephanie: Yeah. So thanks for mentioning that. So single people, we see you, you’re allowed to have boundaries too.

[00:24:42] Sarita: Yes. You can say no, it’s okay.

[00:24:45] Stephanie: It is. Even if you have the free time, you can make a date with yourself. It’s all right. So I know, I hope people are, well, there could be some people listening who are not very happy that we’re seeing this right now, but it’s okay. It’s all right. We’ll challenge you. Give that, give those single people their space as well.

And granted, like you said, there are seasons in life where you have more energy when you’re younger and sometimes you can go a little bit harder, but you have to kind of figure what that is out for yourself. 

Okay. So we talked about what can teams do or married people on teams do for single people. How about we talk about churches and organizations?

Cause you talked about in the beginning about how fundraising and presenting the vision was difficult for you as a single female missionary. So how can churches and organizations be more hospitable, be more encouraging? What kind of care can they give?

[00:25:35] Sarita: Yeah. So I really think that we need to do a better job, you know, as churches, as sending organizations to support single missionaries, especially cause there’s so many of them and they’re saying yes to God and we need to support them. So I would say, you know, don’t diminish someone’s calling just because they’re single, you know, If God’s called them and they have this purpose on their life, you know, it takes a lot of courage to act in that obedience and do what God’s asked them to do.

And it is holy and it’s exhausting work and it’s emotionally draining at times. And so I think that we need to in with churches, give them a voice, you know, listen to them, let them be, be leaders, you know, listen to their struggles and find out ways that you can support them. You know, elevate women in leadership. 

I think that single missionaries are especially vulnerable to, to, you know, spiritual abuse because maybe they are younger and they’re more, maybe not as confident in themselves. And so I think that we need to give them safe spaces to share their emotions without judgment.

So always having some kind of a counselor or coach or member care person that they can talk to on a regular basis, not just when they’re in crisis. And really reaching out to them, let them know, check in, you know, send care packages, you know, help organize, when they’re coming home, you know, on sabbatical, help them get a car, help them get a place to stay, you know, all the things they need for reentry, and definitely visit them, you know, make sure that, that you’re going to see them, going to encourage them in person and really, you know, , being there for them because it definitely is, you know, a struggle to be out there, you know, on your own.

And so really understanding that they might need a little bit. extra support and, and friendship and pouring into.

[00:27:39] Stephanie: Absolutely. I’m thinking too, as you’re talking, when we think about single missionaries, we also have different generations of single missionaries. I know on the team that I served with, I am. There’s an incredible woman in her sixties and she’s amazing. She’s clearly from a different generation than we also had some in their forties and their thirties and in their twenties.

And it was interesting just even noticing some of the similarities in terms of the needs that they had and then some of the differences in the needs that they had. And, our hope, I know yours, mine, all of us in the mission space, is that we’re having all different kinds of opportunities. ages of missionaries come out in the field.

But more like, statistically, we’re more likely to have younger people coming out. So I’m even just kind of thinking out loud, because I know you and I didn’t even necessarily plan on talking about this, but what might be some needs of like a Gen Z? Because that’s, That’s the, the Gen Z single missionary coming out on the field is going to look different than a missionary who’s a little bit older.

What might you say would be some of their unique needs?

[00:28:47] Sarita: Yeah, I mean, I think Gen Z is a lot more, interested in trying to work through their, their pain and their emotional healing. And they’re much more interested in being authentic and having very real conversations and being vulnerable. And so I think that there’s so much emotional pain that you go through on the field.

Just you’re, you’re witnessing, the suffering of others, which you are actively and willingly wanting to be a part of, to love them. And that can be really difficult, especially as a young person to, to witness that and the way that it affects your theology about God and, and, okay, you know, how, Seeing all this suffering.

Okay, God, where are you in this? And so really needing to have a space where they can have these theological conversations where it’s it’s non judgmental, you know, like I remember I I witnessed so much suffering and violence and death that I was just like God like I need to see your goodness. Like, where is your goodness?

And so I think that the Lord really did show me his goodness, but oftentimes I just needed a space to talk to someone where it’s like, okay, you’re not going to be judged if you have these theological questions. If you’re struggling and grappling with these things, that’s okay. And so providing them with safe spaces, I think to do that is super important.

[00:30:28] Stephanie: You’re absolutely right. I think Gen Z is so much more likely to talk about their feelings and their thoughts and all the things swirling around inside of them. Not that they’re all external processors. Certainly some are internal processors as well. But I think it’s become the norm to not bottle those things up and to have a space to talk about it.

And I think for older generations, it can be like, Oh my gosh, this is, why do we need to talk about our feelings again? Also, I’ve noticed. The thing that I’ve noticed with , Gen Zers, and a lot of single Gen Zers is they, they are really good at boundaries. They’re always talking about their boundaries, and I have to put up this boundary and this boundary.

And, for somebody who’s used to maybe working with another generation, it’s like, Whoa! These Gen Zers have all these boundaries, they want to talk about their feelings, and it can be like a generational clash. And so, to add to, and expound on what you were saying, I think, If you are of a different generation and you want single Gen Zers to come on the field, how can we create those spaces for them to be heard, to be valued?

And then for Gen Zers, I think it’s good for them to realize too, Hey, you’re going to be working with people who have not operated this way. Not that they don’t talk about their feelings, but they’re not using mental health words in all of their sentences. Like, you know, You know, you are, they’re not, they’re not probably processing to that same depth. And so be patient with them if you don’t feel like they are meeting your needs. 

And there can be spiritual abuse, like you were mentioning, but also I would say for Gen Z, don’t read spiritual abuse into just a leader, maybe who is, just doesn’t know how to work with your personality and who’s learning. Giving each other a lot of grace and space in those conversations as well. Cause, yeah, we want Gen Zers on the field, but then how can we create spaces for them to serve and serve well? And so we need to study Gen Zers. Gen Zers, study the generations above you too. How do they work? So that you can work together well. So, yeah.

[00:32:21] Sarita: And I think that, you know, Gen Z is so relational that, you know, used to be that a leader could just like speak into your life, but Gen Zs, they really need that relational connection, you know? So you need to earn the right to be heard in their lives. And so you need to have that relationship there in order to be able to, to mentor them, , And, you know, and I think that because mental health is important to them, we need to have things like counselors available, you know, and, and I, I kind of love the model when that is an outside person, not always someone who is, a member care person within the sending organization, because I just feel like. there’s a greater ability to just be really authentic and honest and vulnerable. Like, if you feel like you’re going to be punished for sharing the truth, then you’re, you’re not gonna, you’re not going to share, you know, Oh, I’m really, I’m really depressed, or I’m really anxious, or I’m really struggling, you know, with these thoughts.

And so I think that we need to sort of have, , an outside, , space that’s not like connected to the organization where they can really be, be authentic. Yeah.

[00:33:33] Stephanie: For member care people who are listening: I know all of you hope that your missionaries will tell you all their deepest, darkest feelings. The reality is they’re probably not. Because as safe as you are, there still are financial strings attached. And there’s a power differential even if you are the nicest, best person in the world. And that doesn’t mean that member care people are not ineffective. There is so much they can do to encourage. I think of all of the churches and organizations and member care type people who sowed into me. Amazing! But there are those little things that you, you just, you can’t share there.

Or you don’t want to because of the safety factor, in terms of you don’t know what they’ll, they’ll do with that. And they might feel like they have to report it. So I would agree. I think we need all kinds of people sowing into their, into their lives. That’s so good that you brought that up. Yeah. Okay.

So we’ve hit a wide range of things today. Loved it. Sarita. 

What is one small practical step that we could leave with for single missionaries and one small practical step for those who serve with or serve single missionaries?

[00:34:44] Sarita: So I don’t know how practical this is, but I think that what I felt on my heart was I wanted to tell single missionaries, don’t let the enemy make you believe the lie that you cannot be used or you can’t pursue your call unless you’re married, because that is a lie. You can, and honestly, God can use that time in your life where you get to know yourself on such a deep level and he heals things in you on such a deep level that it becomes a reality and some of the most joyous times of your life. So you are made for a great and mighty purpose. So I think that just taking that one small step of saying yes to God, you know, if you have this burning passion in your heart, you know, book the ticket, you know, take the trip, you know, even if it’s an exploratory trip.

I know if you’re trying to figure out Okay, where is God calling me? This is what I have on my heart, but I’m going to go explore it, you know, believe that God is with you and he’s for you and he’s going to help you accomplish the call that he’s, he’s put on your life. , and I think that more than, you know, single missionaries are struggling with loneliness. They’re struggling, feeling like people might not care about them or that friends or family back home may have forgotten about them. And so, really making an intentional effort to pray for them, to reach out to them, even if they haven’t already reached out to you, they just might be feeling lonely. They might be feeling shameful. They might be feeling lots of emotions. And so they might not feel like they can reach out, but if you reach out to them and just say, you know, Hey, you’ve been on my mind, you’ve been on my heart. I’m praying for you. How are you doing?

Do you want to do, you know, it used to be for me a Skype chat, but now it’s like, do you want to do a WhatsApp chat? Do you want to do a FaceTime, you know, do something to. connect to them and let them know that they aren’t alone and that they, they can have a space to, to share, to share their heart openly, honestly.

[00:36:57] Stephanie: Hmm. So just be really proactive with them, it sounds like you’re saying.

[00:37:01] Sarita: Yeah. I think that we asse that, you know, because they’re single or they might have more time available that they’ll be the ones to reach out. But I know that when I was like deep in the thick of it, you know, doing the work every day and exhausted and, you know, sometimes disheartened by maybe, oh, I wanted to see all these things happen and maybe these things didn’t happen.

And I think that it can be, the enemy really does try to isolate those, those single people and make them feel as if they’re somehow not doing a good enough job. And so because of that, I think there is some shame involved. And so often that shame leads to disconnection and that leads to us not wanting to reach out for support.

So I think that really being the ones to know, okay, here’s my single missionary that’s out there. Here’s my single missionary friend that’s out there, you know, I’m going to put it on my calendar, you know, to call them and check in with them and send them a message and send them a note. And those notes and those messages, they, they make a huge difference.

[00:38:06] Stephanie: Yeah. Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. 

Okay, Sarita, I want to make sure that people know how they can get ahold of you. Where can they find you at?

[00:38:15] Sarita: Yeah. So I have a blog. I blog about all things, missions and wholehearted living, mental health at https://www.saritahartz.com/ And I have on there, you know, free ebooks and resources on self care, how to do self care on the mission field. I have stuff on there about re entry and so definitely checking those free resources out, , just by subscribing to my newsletter.

And I’m also on Instagram at Sarita Hartz. You can find me there and also my podcast Missionary Life. You can find that on Apple podcasts. And then hopefully very soon uou’ll be able to read my book Healing Her, so if you sign up you’ll be able to get updates about the book coming out and my heart is that it really does speak to missionaries, especially single missionaries. There wasn’t that season in my life where I was there. And, my heart is that I would speak to people and, and help them heal and help them be able to serve, you know, without burning out.

[00:39:20] Stephanie: Hmm. Thank you for your heart for missionaries. I just appreciate you coming on and sharing with everybody today. It was, that was a blessing. I loved getting to hear your story and then just some of the things that the Lord has taught you through it. So we’re so glad that you joined us today, Sarita.

[00:39:34] Sarita: Thank you so much, Stephanie.

[00:39:35] Stephanie: Yeah. And to everybody else who was with us, thank you for joining us today and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode.