We’re driving on winding hills en route from the capital city of Nicaragua, Managua, to Ocotal. My husband Scott and I have joined a team of Christians to partake in a soccer tournament of 140 teams of Nicaraguans to evangelize, translate, and play in the tournament.
Why, you might wonder, am I filling you in on my personal whereabouts? Because working as a virtual assistant for Don’t Panic Management is one of the main avenues that allows me to be here. It is because of this company that I have not had to quit my job in the midst of a summer abroad.
Since January, 2016, the beginning of my work with Don’t Panic, I have only had three known variables when considering my future: the need for work, my marriage, and a passion for long-term mission work in another country. In the meantime, we have had a lot of opportunities to prepare for what hopefully will lie ahead, whether living among a tribal people group in North Africa, Western Asia, or in an unknown region of the world. Our current means of preparation has been taking place in Nicaragua, where my husband has been working on his master’s thesis research.
Life on the Move
A lesson that has hit home many times is that moving and traveling can be very messy. Something that sets Don’t Panic apart from other work is that we have colleagues that cover our back when needed and we cover theirs. Fortunately, we remain constant and continue delivering exceptional service, in the midst of life changes. This relationship with each other greatly improves our relationships with clients.
As soon as I knew that we were moving to Nicaragua for the summer, our Chief Client Officer Jenn and I discussed a game plan in case I would need extra coverage if the unexpected came up. So far, the game plan has been working out beautifully. The only unexpected surprises have been minor: WiFi not working, “Montezuma’s Revenge” (it’s awful!), or thunderstorms shutting down the electricity.
Fortunately, my clients have not been aware of any of this (until they read this post) because with Don’t Panic’s flexibility, life’s surprises have not affected my work.
Keeping Setbacks Minor
The hardest challenge that I have faced so far has been balancing a constantly changing schedule. My days include ministry in the day, spiritually mentoring a group of young women at night, setting aside time for my husband—and delivering on client requests. Have I yet been able to come to an ideal balance, like I had back in the States? Definitely not!
What has saved me? I have mastered the art of working ahead early mornings, late evenings, and during the lunch hour. I have rejoiced in finding that the most productive time for me is at 5:00am when the coffee is fresh and everything is quiet in the typically bustling city of Managua.
Two more setbacks have been the scarcity of dependable, strong WiFi for calls and not having set working hours. But by seeing these setbacks, I have developed a greater appreciation for my role as a content manager. This kind of work enables me to work ahead, and it permits flexible correspondence within 24 hours. None of this would be possible with a traditional job or office environment.
Gaining Life Experience
Life for me has slowed down since moving into Nicaragua. With the constant chatter around unplugging and disconnecting, I have been grateful to realize that an unplugged life is a much more realistic goal here. I haven’t been able to get a phone to work down here for a variety of reasons, and I am not disappointed!
It’s proved impossible to escape the concept of mañana and Nicaragua time. Literally, mañana means “tomorrow,” but in context, it’s often used in Nicaragua to mean, “It doesn’t need to happen today.” But don’t make the mistake of attributing mañana to laziness (like I have before). Many people here definitely are the opposite. Even so, there are many unknown variables on delivering work that result in constant delays that the common response in business has become “Si Dios quiere,” meaning it will happen if God wants it to happen.
With all of these unknown variables of missionary work and mañana, I’m very grateful for my virtual assistant position with Don’t Panic! As I keep working ahead, I’ve been able to avoid mishaps and meet clients’ expectations before they even ask! I’m not slowed down by my busy days, my lack of WiFi, or my life abroad.
Thank the Lord that I still have job stability in the midst of life’s instability.
Are you interested in joining our team? Find out more about how to become a virtual assistant with Don’t Panic here.