There is a saying that distance adds intrigue. It is so true. You think of missionary families far away and it intrigues you. You might ask questions such as: Why do you do it? How do you do it? When did you know that you should go? What about money? Or you might ask for news and prayer requests.
The closer to home, the less intriguing the work of sacrifice seems. When you are a mother at home with your children, the church and everyone around is not asking you for prayer requests. Your work is normal. You have the Lord and you want to share the Gospel. It is easy to feel discouraged thinking that the work you are doing is not important. But there is no greater sacrifice than motherhood, whether overseas or back at home. Our children have eternal souls and they are our mission field.
Foreign country and Motherhood
The difference between you and my family is the change of location, moving and adapting to a different culture, packing and unpacking lots of bags, adjusting to different situations, learning and trying to understand a foreign language.
In the first few years in Africa I went through some challenges. The first one was loneliness. Yes, I have a husband and children but I am talking about having to go out to make new friends with people from a different background and culture. It is a long and difficult process. My husband is usually busy with the ministry schedule while I am just at home with our children.
I had prayed for many years for female team members. God answered my prayer and it helped a lot. We also found a home school co-op and met with many other American missionary families.
The second challenge is culture. Our point of view, the way we live, what we eat, and where we live is so different. We are free and have joy but we need to learn to be sensitive and respectful. We also have three different cultures in and around our family. I grew up in France, my husband is a Greek American, and we live in the Malawian African culture.
My children are loud and can’t stay still. Wherever we go we are a spectacle. No matter what we wear or do or what we say is taken differently, with a different meaning. Malawian children run to our children and touch them or are afraid of them. They want to feed our kids and us, too.
No matter how many times we say no to someone trying to sell us something they will not get it until we tell them: ‘No money’, or ‘Next time’, or ‘Not now’.
The third challenge is family and time management. I struggle with it almost every day. This challenge is similar to yours with homeschooling, prepping meals, planning activities, having a budget, church, home school co-op…
It takes more time and energy to complete daily tasks in another culture, especially when having irregular electrical power and sporadic water supply.
I have my grocery list ready and arrive at the store only to find out that half of the ingredients are not available. (This is the downside of a landlocked third world African country). When I’m finally back home ready to cook, and POOOOF, the power is OUT! It may last for a few hours (you never know).
Then, there are days when I’m overpowered by dirty laundry; the load is ready but the water is shut off. I have to confess that the hardest days are when there is no water and no power at the same time. It happens from time to time. Out of the two I can live without power but I CANNOT live without water.
Bring it all to God
I have learned to bring everything to God. We see God’s powerful and loving hand on a regular basis. We have learned to be flexible and to adapt. For the isolation, I have learned to come out of my comfort zone. I started teaching an English class for the ladies after Sunday service. Being involved with the worship team has been fun, too!
God has given us many friends, missionaries or expats that have become dear to us. As a family, we try to go on church visitations at least twice a month.
We have been back in America for about a month and a half. It has been a whirlwind. Time goes by so fast. Convention was amazing with stirring messages that carry weight in our souls. Fellowship has been amazing. This time for our kids has been above and beyond what we could have asked for.
It touches us is how the church family gives us continuously. We feel so honored. It may be little things, like families taking our kids out for play dates, or little cards of encouragement. We often feel humbled to be part of such a great family. Jesus didn’t choose a restaurant to cater the 5000+ people. He used a small boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. God uses so many different members in the Body of Christ to bless people around the world.
East Coast travels
The rest of the summer will be split between visiting family and supporters along the east coast. It will be a lot of driving with small children coupled with a lot of fellowship. We are thankful for your prayers and support. We return to Malawi in a few short weeks.
Please pray as we continue raising up our newly ordained pastors, and for plans for a church plant in the northern city of Mzuzu.
“You will show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
by Julie – The Arman Missions