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Missionaries are typically very busy people. They work long days, often involving a lot of stress, so it isn't surprising that most missionaries seem to retire for the night early—I mean early.
A phrase we picked up and use over and over on the mission field describes this “early to bed, early to rise” mentality; missionary midnight. It’s the classic excuse that we use if we are feeling tired and just want to hit the sack. You see, missionary midnight is 8 p.m.
Another factor that makes us likely to go to bed early is that there aren't as many things to do at night in the jungle. You could say we live in the quietest neighborhood in the world.
In the jungle it gets dark early in the day, around 6 p.m., and all liveliness starts to wind down with the setting of the sun behind the mountains. Men make sure their houses are stocked high with firewood, the women prepare the evening snack—sweet potatoes—and children come home from a day of hiking and exploring to start settling down.
As the last few rays of sunshine sink away and the glow of day fades into a world of darkness, suddenly everything is dead quiet. You would think all life had ceased to exist if it weren't for the conversing insects, chattering away in a hundred different languages all blending into one hum. A dark jungle brings a silence that is hard to find elsewhere in the world.
But from there on out, after you've contemplated the romance of the rainforest, it can get just plain boring for those who aren't used to such a low-key evening. There aren't any parties going on down the street, and we don’t have the capability to get in a car and shop at the mall, go bowling, or watch a new movie at the theater.
Our family typically ends up playing a board game, watching a short television show on our laptop, or just sitting down with that one book we keep meaning to read. As the clock reports 7:55 p.m. or so and our eyelids begin to droop, we usually end up giving in to missionary midnight.
Now, this may sound rather pitiful to you night owls out there, but for my family missionary midnight has just become a way of life.
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