Missionaries are something I really struggle with the concept of. I don't really think its cool to go off to another country tell them they've got it all wrong, have had it wrong for thousands of years, and that this other religion is how it really is*. But my friends aren't doing that. They are going to work. They (unlike me) have useful degrees that are helpful to people. She is a pharmacist and will be assisting a pharmacy in a very poor area and he is an engineer and will be assiting with building infrastructure in the city.
Going to live somewhere different to anything you ever experienced before is an amazing way for you to find what it's like to be different, be a minority. It's a scary thing to be in the minority, especially when it is as conspicuous as the colour of your skin.
(Generally its assumed that if you are white in "non -white" country you're American. Interestingly when we were in Uganda people often asked me if I was Muslim because I had a Muslim name... Sofia. Even though I introduced myself as Sophie and Tim introduced himself as Tim we both got translated to Sofia and Timoty straight away. I digress. )
(Sore thumb much?)While we were in Uganda I got completely fed up of being stared at and having things assumed about me because of how I look. It's devastating to think people live like that every day in our country of muddled up races too. It's devastating to think that the people who were here first are the minority and may feel that way. I admire our friends, and some other people I know too, for choosing to live in a country where they are different because they want to make a difference..
*On the flip side, may be what my friends are doing is what being a missionary is all about. We tend to only here the crap stuff about religion in the media. You don't hear that a dramatically higher percentage of religious people (equally across all religions I may add) give to charity than non religious etc.