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Becoming Missionaries: Two Unexpected Temptations of Missionary Life

Two half-truths are going through my mind right away as we are becoming missionaries…

# 1  S P E N D  L E S S

# 2  D O  M O R E


#1  S P E N D  L E S S

The first time I walked through Target with only donations from our supporters sitting in our bank account, it was a whole new experience. I went to the clearance rack to get an alarm clock for my daughter. There was a pretty gold-colored alarm clock one on sale for $6.98.

Here is what went through my head: “If someone sees me with this clock in my shopping cart, they will think, ‘This is where her support money is going to??’ Because they won’t know that my daughter needs it and that it’s on sale for $6.98. They will think I’m just on a shopping spree at Target with our support money.”

$6.98 … Still too expensive.

I didn’t really need it. I could walk in her room and wake her up myself. So I took it out of my cart.

It was a big deal to me to purchase anything I didn’t really need with the Lord’s money.


“Did you not tell them that they were the Lord’s chips?” –Senor Ramon, Nacho Libre


Isn’t all of our paycheck the Lord’s money? Wasn’t Andy’s youth pastor paycheck just as much the Lord’s money before we became missionaries?

Somehow I felt entitled to spend our money before. But now I feel this whole new responsibility for every penny spent.

Why is this income different? Because it is gifted from my friends and family. Their hard-earned money was gifted to our mission at Gleanings for the Hungry, so we can help feed the hungry! Not so I can go on my usual Target run!

Only the essentials are important enough to go in the shopping cart … right? This is what goes through the head of a new missionary.

I desperately want to use our money wisely. I see this as a very positive change in my mindset, once I get a good balance in my heart and mind about what is necessary to buy.

In addition to this positive change, I also notice a great guilt whenever I spend any money at all.

For example, our daughter’s birthday. Whoo hoo!

But … should I spend money on a party? Should I buy her just a few small gifts? What do missionaries do for their kids’ birthdays?

You didn’t earn that, Chelsea. You don’t need that. Your daughter doesn’t need that.

And I have to discern where this guilt is coming from. Does God want to show me that I need more discernment with money? Or is the life of a missionary really just a strange thing that I have to get used to? Or do I really need to do everything I can to earn my sense of “I served the Lord and I earned this support money?”

Will I be living in a constant state of guilt for everything I buy? Should I really not be buying anything other than missionary essentials?


“These are my recreation clothes.”

“They look expensive.”

“Thank you.” —Nacho Libre


Should I be making clothes for my family in the sewing room instead of buying clothes? Should we only wear donated hats and shoes?

The thing is — there is nothing wrong with using all donated or homemade items. People all over the world do that.

What do you think the Lord is trying to teach me?


“Beneath the clothes, we find a man … and beneath the man, we find his … nucleus.” —Nacho Libre


# 2  D O  M O R E

Another thing I keep hearing in my own head is, “You aren’t doing enough,” and, “Other people think you aren’t doing enough.”

I am here at Gleanings and I am doing the same thing that I was doing at home in Burbank: homeschooling and raising my kids, and serving in small ways in the ministry here. Maybe that’s not enough?

I should be pulling my weight contributing more to the community. I should add more to my schedule. I should should should.

Listening to all the shoulds is emotionally exhausting. And I think emotional exhaustion is a sign that these “shoulds” are not from the Lord.


C O N C L U S I O N S . . .

I wonder if other missionaries hear a lot of shoulds?

I wonder if other missionaries feel like they aren’t doing enough? Because, really, who is the judge of that?

I wonder if other missionaries tend to abstain from all kinds of luxuries in an attempt to be righteous enough to deserve the support money they have raised?

Really, if I make any decision at all based on support or money, am I not worshipping money?

If I add more to my schedule to try to impress or please someone else other than the Lord, am I not trying to please man instead of pleasing God?


“Those eggs were a lie, Esqueleto! A LIE! They give me no eagle powers! They give me no nutrients!” —Nacho Libre


What will please the Lord? That’s all that matters.

How I spend my money will not stop the money from coming in. The Lord determines what money comes in for our family. We will always have what we need. That is the Lord’s promise. And that has been my prayer since the beginning of this adventure at Gleanings for the Hungry: Give us this day our daily bread.

How much I accomplish as a mom and a missionary cannot be measured by anyone but the Lord, just as the hairs on my head cannot be counted by anyone but him.

Thank you for letting me share this with you. What are your thoughts? Please share your insights!

Find out more about our family’s choice to move to Gleanings for the Hungry here: 



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More Gleanings Love


Gleanings for the Hungry is a romantic getaway for my husband and me.


We don’t get to spend much time together while we are there. I don’t even have a photo of Andy and me at Gleanings.

We start each day with breakfast at 6:45 a.m. I’m not a morning person, so I’d like to emphasize: breakfast at 6:45 a.m. I know some of you are already done with your morning coffee, devotions, and a jog by 6:45 a.m., and one day I want to be you, but I am not there quite yet. So I don’t wear any makeup while I am at Gleanings, and my hair is usually in a low, messy side bun.

After the morning chapel and worship time, which is always a huge blessing, I work the morning shift in the field, lifting trays and turning the peaches to the cup-up position. The week’s attire consists of t-shirts and shorts, sun hats, and work gloves.

While I work, Andy has the kids. He actually gets to spend wonderful, quality time with the kids. He swims with them in the Gleanings pool until the 12:00 p.m. lunch.

kids swimming

baby swimming

After lunch, Andy works in the peach plant, sorting good and bad peaches, removing cores, and working with the rest of the team to help the process run smoothly. I take the kids back to our room, where we get washed up, play some games, take naps, and dress for dinner, which is at 5:30 p.m.

Side note: Most volunteers have to work a full day and I only work a half-day, so I guess I don’t have the perspective of a typical volunteer. But it’s one way for us to get to go on the trip even though we have kids! This organization is very kid-friendly and they even have a playground next to the cafeteria. Plus, the kids actually do get to help with some of the work, as long as they stay with Mom or Dad. This year my daughters checked the dried fruit for rocks, pits, and sticks, picked green beans off the vine during their time with Daddy, and cleaned the cafeteria bathrooms with Mommy.


Why is it so much more fun to cut green beans and clean bathrooms at Gleanings?

Then we have a delicious homemade dinner together. I don’t have to cook or do dishes. (YES!) The Gleanings staff does all the cooking, but sometimes they let volunteers help in the kitchen when there are enough workers in the peach plant.

We hang out with our team in the evening, learning about the mission of Gleanings (Monday night) playing soccer on the field (Tuesday night), going to the water park (Wednesday), bowling (Thursday night), or going to Foster’s Freeze for dessert (every night).

My kids love it. I think Foster’s might be Andy’s favorite part of the trip.



Friday night is the Love Feast, where we get to eat a more formal dinner and listen to a guest speaker: always an amazing night. It was particularly awesome this year. The Gleanings Summer Staff did a skit where, one by one, they held up pieces of cardboard with one side saying where they used to be, and the other side stating how God has freed them or saved them. Then one of the Gleanings full-time staff members shared her testimony. How can I describe it to do it justice? I can’t. It was just glorious to see people’s lives changed because of her honesty about the power of Jesus in her life.

Gleanings is a Monday through Saturday work week, but Wednesday is a half-day of work. This year, instead of going to the water park, we spent Wednesday afternoon visiting Hume Lake and the historic redwood trees up the mountain. Gleanings is located in Dinuba, CA, just at the foot of the mountain. It took us about an hour to get from Gleanings to Hume.


At the end of each workday, we go back to our room, a motel-style suite with a mini fridge and six twin beds. Andy and I push two of them together for our bed. Next year I’ll have to take pictures of the room so I can show you what it looks like. It’s clean and nice. Gleanings does their best to arrange for families to stay in private rooms, even though youth groups stay in girl/guy camp-style rooms with bunk beds. There is even a brand new ten-plex building on the premises with fully furnished rooms for families to stay comfortably.

Maybe this trip just helps us relax and take our minds off of ourselves. We enter into a community of believers who cover us with love and prayer. With soft hearts, we worship God together, and he changes and cleanses us, which is always so good.

When I see my husband bring a team from our church to Gleanings For the Hungry, I remember that the man I married loves Jesus more than he loves me. I remember that a big reason why I married him is because he loves all the people in his life, and he loves the poor and needy.

It’s romantic to see him living out who God made him to be. It’s good for me to remember that our marriage is not about getting what I want or need from Andy. It is about serving the Lord together, using the gifts and talents that God had given us, and doing our best to raise our children well.

I just love this guy.

fam at Gleanings

xo, Chelsea

P.S. I can’t wait for you to read my book. It’s about my search for true love as a young person, and how God never let me go. Part II of the book is all about how Andy and I met, and how our friendship grew into true love. Hopefully the book will be ready in November or December! Enter your email address to receive my posts in your inbox–that way you can be sure to get my ebook for free.


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Service Project for the Whole Family

My family and I just got back from our annual trip to Gleanings for the Hungry.

Year after year, we are so blessed for taking one week out of our summer to serve God and help feed the hungry.

  We helped process peaches from local farmers, turning them into delicious dried fruit that is shipped to starving people around the world.

Yes, I know it doesn’t look that great, but the dried fruit is really delicious.

 We processed over 600,000 pounds of peaches that week. It absolutely amazes me.


trays of peaches

Peaches are dried in the sun and then packaged and shipped all over the world!


Why on earth would we go back year after year to work in the hot 100 degree weather in the fields of Dinuba, California to do this?

Why is this the trip we look forward to each summer? We ask ourselves this question and don’t really know the answer.


 Andy says that this trip refreshes him more than any youth conference, houseboat trip, or resort.


fam at Gleanings

Gleanings: What a great service project trip for the whole family!


The first year we went, I was tired after one day of working. But by the end of the week, I knew that Jesus had blessed me for my time serving the poor.


Maybe that’s why students from our youth group have attended this trip four, five, six summers in a row and even joined the Gleanings summer staff.


Maybe that’s why home school groups and churches from Canada and Washington take four-day bus rides every summer to serve at Gleanings.


Maybe that’s why my kids love it and want to move there. It’s because Jesus is doing great things among those who serve at Gleanings For the Hungry.


Is this what heaven is like?


A little piece of heaven on earth, if you ask me.

To find out more about Gleanings, click here.


 If you love Gleanings for the Hungry, leave a comment with your favorite thing about Gleanings!

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