For the Missionary Mamas Out There: You’re Not Alone

Do you ever have days when you think to yourself, “I could be doing this mom job in (insert Western country here) and do it a lot more easily and comfortably”?

I know I do. And I think this is a pretty common thought for missionary moms, particularly those of us serving in less developed countries.

I mean, if only you could get through one day without cleaning up lizard poop. Also, there are mouse droppings in the cupboards again. And there’s that parade of ants that is constantly moving from the cups to the plates and then behind the bowls- where are they going?

The power’s out, guess you can’t wash clothes. You can’t do dishes either (hand wash, of course) because you get your water from a rain tank that is then pumped electrically through the house. No electricity = no water. And what you wouldn’t give for a dryer – a dryer! There are few things you loathe more than hanging clothes on the line to dry. Oh yeah, it’s raining too. You live six degrees south of the equator and there’s only two seasons: rainy and dry. Or, hot, and hot and humid. Sigh. Guess those clothes won’t be getting dry after all.

And these are the things you face before breakfast.

Now it’s time to home school and with that comes a lot of questions. Is this the “right” choice for my children? Their education is in my hands… they’re doomed. Or maybe it’s time to get them ready and send them to the local international school where you constantly wonder if the education they’re getting is sub-par compared to what they’d receive in your passport country.

There’s no zoo or parks. And if you’re stuck inside the house for one more day you may just lose your mind. There’s always outside play. Oh wait, you forgot to put bug spray on the kids. Hello, malaria.

Bedtime now. And the power’s out again. And everyone needs a shower because you’ve been sweating buckets all day. Time to bust out the battery powered fans and try to position them right on your kids’ faces so they’ll go to sleep. And now, tired mama, you try and rest too, knowing that tomorrow you’ve gotta do it all over again.

Some days I’m discouraged about my job. And I wasn’t someone who dragged my feet kicking and screaming to become a missionary. I told my husband six weeks into dating that I wanted to be a missionary and that if he didn’t want to as well, then we needed to go our separate ways. I guess he felt the call.

So we signed on for missions together and leapt boldly into this calling.

But then, of course, we all get our eyes opened eventually. Whether it be in training to go to the field or slightly after arriving in your country of service, the romanticism ends and you figure out that life is still just life on the mission field. Some days you’re just scrubbing toilets and wiping bottoms and breaking up sibling fights and nobody is getting saved or discipled you think to yourself, “Why am I here?

My husband is out saving Papua New Guinea and I’m at home sweeping the floor for the eighteenth time today and fighting off cockroaches and trying to keep the kids (and myself) sane.

It’s enough to make a mama break.

I have a notecard that’s taped above my kitchen sink. It has been thinned by humidity and torn from being moved from house to house over the years. It reads:

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother
than from all the theologians in England.”
–John Wesley

I read this card every day. Some days I read it multiple times.

John Wesley learned more about the faith from his mama than from anyone else. His mama who cleaned him and washed his clothes and taught him and read to him. The woman that dried his tears and told him about Jesus and took him to church on Sundays; she was his greatest influencer.

I remember that my job is important.

When I kiss booboos and read fairy tales and teach them to bake- in each of these things I can point them to Jesus. I get to teach them about prayer and love and forgiveness (sometimes giving it, sometimes asking for it). I’m the one that gets to hear their questions about God first. “Mom, is Jesus God?” “Mama, what’s faith?” “Mom, did God create Papua New Guineans too?”    And I have the delight of watching them little by little get to know Jesus better. I get to watch them choose prayer and forgiveness and sometimes it’s them ministering to me. “Mama, you need to pray…”

And because the discipleship of my daughters comes first, I may have less margin for “ministry” in Papua New Guinea. But when I stop viewing my kids as the thing holding me back from ministry and start seeing them as my ministry, my “job” gets a whole lot easier.

Some days motherhood will knock the wind out of you; it’ll stop you in your tracks and bring you to your knees and you’ll cry out in the middle of your kitchen with the ants and the rat poop, “JESUS, I NEED YOU TO SHOW UP TODAY!”

He hears you, mama. He sees you. And He’s cheering you on because what you do matters.

You’re not alone, friend. There are countless others that are walking this missionary mom road too, this road less traveled. And what we do matters.