Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Real Coffeegirl

[what's brewing: fully-caffeinated, you know, the real deal]

On New Year’s Day, I received the following comment from a Coffeegirl regular:

I was wondering if I might ask you to fill in some blanks for me. If you have a profile on Facebook or something like that where these questions are answered then I could go there if you point me in the right direction. On the other hand, if you are choosing not to reveal this information I am curious as to why; I'd really like to understand.Forgive me, please, if I am being to forward. OK, so here go my questions: We know that your husband is Jason; what is your first name? We know that you are learning Spanish (if I am not mistaken); what country are you serving in? We know that you are fairly newly married; how old are you? Do you have a personal blog that we could follow outside of this one?


I wondered how long CG Confessions would run before someone asked these questions and I got my answer that day, 6 months and 29 days since my first posting. Perhaps you have had similar questions as you’ve been reading along – I know I would have. So what’s the story?

Through my own series of fortunate events, I came to know of Women of the Harvest as an excellent resource for women in cross-cultural service. Just as my life’s journey was leading me to the doorstep of missions, an idea was birthed in the WOTH office of documenting the first year of missionary life from a woman's point of view and sharing them through an online forum that would allow interaction from the WOTH readers. I was eventually drawn into discussions about the project and was selected to be the voice of the project. Before I began, a few guidelines were established to help ensure that the intention of the vision of the project would remain clear and connected to the WOTH mission.

Many times missionaries are defined by their demographics – where they live, which agency they serve with, single or married, children or no children, language abilities, etc. It can become easy to define missionaries by these factors, rather than the true experiences of their cross-cultural life (and many of you can probably attest to this after making a long tour on home assignment!). While there is often a camaraderie among missionaries based upon their shared experiences, points of dissimilarity can create subtle divisions:

Oh, well she’s single – she wouldn’t understand.
That family doesn’t look at things the way I do – they work in Europe.
Her agency allows for more frequent furloughs.
She doesn’t have children to manage on top of ministry responsibilities.
They live in a nicer area – they don’t understand people the way we do.


In an attempt to bypass these issues and focus on the heart of the writing, it was decided that the author would remain anonymous. The hope was that women would then be able to connect with the real issues at hand, to unite in their shared experiences, find freedom to voice their own experiences and not be divided by points of differentiation. The writing is meant to reflect the heart of a woman in cross-cultural service – she could be me, she could be you. Certainly there are details and personal struggles included here that are unique to me, but hopefully as you read along you’re able to see a reflection of yourself, your predecessors, your field leaders, your teammates, maybe even your enemies between the lines.

So while my “real” identity remains undisclosed, I assure you that I am real. I am Coffeegirl. Every bit of this blog is authentic and personal. You can confide in me, just as I confide in all of you each week. And as you do so, think of the women in your life who have been called to serve alongside you, for better or worse. As the blog description says,

Any woman who has embarked on the cross-cultural adventure of sharing the love of Christ outside her home culture has a piece of Coffeegirl within her.

15 comments:

angiewashington.com said...

Dear Coffeegirl,

Thank you for responding to my questions and providing an explanation. I respect your desire to remain anonymous.

God bless you.
Angie

sarah said...

Loved this post! I think I appreciate the fact that I don't know all this information about you, but can relate to you as a female missionary. I loved how you touched on people's views of missionaries and their ideas of what it should be. I've run into this on furlough's as well. What a comfort to know that there are other ladies who are out there who understand. Keep up the good work Coffeegirl.....I'll keep reading whatever you brew up and maybe one day we'll know the full story, but for now that's okay. :)

Libby said...

Thanks for explaining. I second what these other two have said here. Keep up the good work. I also appreciate how this blog is done and find yet again with WOTH that this is yet another of their ways of helping us missionary ladies "get" each other. :) So great!

Oh and on the vote today...coffee or tea...I voted tea because I can't drink coffee in the morning so I love drinking English breakfast tea to wake up, but I love coffee too. :)
Blessings to you ladies today.3

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Based on the beginning of your blogs, I made the assumption that this was the rationale for your blog being anonymous. I do respect that and can understand all your reasons.

Ellie said...

from one anonymous to another, it's ok not to know everything. We can know you, and you can know us, and we can know each other. There are more reasons out there to keep all details off the internet, and I can respect that.

But... I am curious... :)

thetaskathand said...

Personally, I've always loved the fact that you're anonymous. It really has helped me to relate a lot more without drawing like you said, abstract conclusions on where you're coming from based on your family life or mission board. I really enjoy your blog and am glad that you're willing to be so personal with all of us. I look forward to every Tuesday! It's one of the highlights of my week. Thanks for just being you and for being willing to write to all of us.

Marti said...

Another big barrier that divides women of the harvest (lower case!) is that some of us are encouraged to see and talk about ourselves as career missionaries, writing about and calling others to the missionary life, while others must approach things quite differently. They are cautious about social networking - they don't blog about their ministries - they can't use their real names. WOTH serves women in both camps, and pretty gracefully, as well. Maybe your example can help those who have to be more discreet find ways to tell their stories while protecting what needs to be protected.

Marti

Regina and David said...

In true coffeegirl fashion I made a fresh pot of coffee and sat down with a cup to read your post. I must say it greatly encouraged me. I am soo glad I found your blog and will look forward to reading it every week.

Becky Aguirre said...

Of course I am dying to know the details! Just not brave enough to ask, I guess...and the anonymity has been kinda interesting. :) I, too, look forward to Tuesday mornings and have appreciated reading your thoughts on life and ministry. Keep up the good work!

malianta said...

Thank you for explaining your approach, even if it does not come as a surprise. Of course, I would love to know, and I have done my share of guessing, for example, based on the time stamp of your posts. ;-) Me too, I don't tell everything about myself on cyberspace.
You have done pretty good job including all of your readers, engaging all of us, no matter what background, organisation, country or ministry. However, I have to admit that I sometimes feel like I am a minority here. - I am single and do not have the same concerns as mothers (or grandmothers). Sometimes I wish there were more singles on your blogroll.

E. T. Tenna said...

I also blog anonymously, because I wanted to write about spiritual opportunities as well as cultural challenges in my location. I also wanted my blog to be internet searchable, so that perhaps non-believers might stop by for a visit. Our team has high security protocols, so blogging under a pen name gives me a place to let off creative and ministry steam in ways other correspondence doesn't allow.

Early on I figured you were doing so for the same reasons but now I see it's to better connect with WOTH readers from all stages of cross-cultural ministry. A more specific reason than my anonymity.

At any rate, I know this little coffee shop is a great place to connect with others of like mind and I love coming here! Thanks!

Grammy said...

I love this blog . I love that it is non-specific. I was talking to my husband the other day about so many ministries are broken up into groups,singles, parents of preschoolers etc. While that is important, we need comraderie in our like areas. We are all children of God and that is what unites us. Good morning to all my sisters out there in this vast world! ps. On my 3rd cup of coffee...

Sojourning Together said...

Well said! Thank you for wanting to keep up united in the spirit of who we are as we share the many of the same experiences and have full hearts
for sharing, caring and encouraging
as we sojourn together on this road.
Thank you for sharing openly and may we all see the fruit of this for mutual encouragement and His glory!
Blessings,
Fellow Sojourner

Mistie said...

I envy you, I sometimes wish I could share without fear of what people would think. I know it is hard for many peolpe to relate because they cannot comprehend the cross cultural experience. My husband immigrated to the states with his family when he was coutry of 14. We have now returned to his birth country,(I don't know what you would call it) as missionaries. Even his family (still in the states) cannot relate. I am sure there are other bi-cultural couples who feel as we do that we truly don't have a home country but live somewhere in the mix of it all. I feel very isolated but I have found community here on this blog.

Brenda said...

Hmmm, I am going to disagree with you here. Especially after reading Mistie's comment (sometimes I wish I could share without fear of what people will think). To me, not knowing who you are takes away the authenticity that this blog could have.

Elizabeth Elliot writes some incredibly transparent and powerful things and yet she has never flinched from showing her face or revealing her identity.

Usually I will not read anonymous blogs because I find them lacking. I will read this one in the interest of community, but I will never hesitate to express my opinion.

Hope this was not too strong, I am a missionary, a non-conformist and maybe not the nicest person in the world, but I am honest.

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