Missionary Mamas

Because we are mamas on the move.

Summer Reading Challenge for Kids – The Letters of Literacy


The “summer slide” is real, mamas; and no, I’m not talking about slip’n’slides. The brain that doesn’t use what it learns tosses it faster than a laundry basket with a lizard in it. Keep them reading–all summer!

You’ve got this, mamas.

How do I…beat the heat? 


Hot kids are g.r.u.m.p.y. Hot kids don’t want to eat. Hot kids want to watch TV all day. Depending on your situation, you probably can’t just turn on the hose and let them loose, water being a scarce resource. Here’s some other ideas:


Give them water while they’re watching TV. I don’t know why this works, but they’ll drink whatever I put in their hands when they’re watching something. It’s weird.

If they’re not crazy about plain water, add a little citrus or cucumber to it. Make it cold with reusable ice cubes (anybody else have those little plastic whales? There’s grownup ones now called Nice Cubes). Insulated water bottles keep things colder longer.

Buy spray bottles that are just for drinking. Drinking water is dumb, but spraying water into your sister’s mouth? Awesome. Also works with squirt guns as long as you’re careful about the water source.

Cool wet towels around the neck are good, but they dry out pretty fast. Not these babies: neck coolers. They seriously stay wet for hours. They were essential equipment when I was six months pregnant during the hottest season in Haiti. (The link is just an example: search for “neck cooler” and you’ll come up with many more!) Just be careful not to tie them such as creates an accidental drive-by choking situation.

Don’t forget that fruit has a lot of water in it, especially watermelon (duh) and cucumber. And our favorite way to eat fruit in the summertime? Popsicles! Get a cheap mold and make your own. I like the Zuko brand. My latest creation was mango carrot: just put them straight into the blender with a little orange juice or other “tropical” flavor, and voila! Fruits AND vegetables, without complaint. One of my kids will also eat a frozen banana straight. I don’t know if that’s all that normal…but there you go.

And don’t forget the salt! If you’re drinking more, you need more salt as well. Just this week, another mama confirmed that when she started drinking a little sea salt in her lemonade, her headaches went away. IT’S A REAL THING.

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Sleeping in the heat

Think about your roof. What color is it? Dark colors will absorb the heat (that’s bad), which is why shade netting works so well. Can you paint it white? (You may not want to paint it if you collect water from your roof into a cistern. Paint is not tasty.) We made sure our solar panels were placed over our bedroom, and it’s made a huge difference in the temperature of the room at night! (Well, and it creates electricity, too, which is pretty great, I guess.)

Wet the curtains. As the breeze passes by the curtains, it’ll cool the air. Yeah, it’s a lot of work. I didn’t say it was easy, girl.

Cross-ventilation. And if you have the luxury of designing or altering your house, think about passive cooling and natural ventilation as well.

Buy a robe and sleep naked. (Though this might heat things up in other ways…but really, is that a bad thing?)

Keep a small bucket of water by your bed and dip your feet into it when you’re too hot. I didn’t make this up, but I love the idea.

Heat rash

Unfortunately, my youngest is very susceptible to this…so here, I do speak from experience. It was better this winter, and now it’s baaaaaack…here’s a rundown of the stuff you usually hear, and a few that you don’t.

Cornstarch. This sometimes worked. I’m still not convinced.

Neem water/paste didn’t work for us.

Fans. E basically slept in a wind tunnel last summer.

Dress lightly. If they’ll just sleep in underwear or shorts, do that.

Lavender and baking soda in the bath. This worked for us. And this year, I’m using my face wash on her, which is lavender, baking soda, frankincense and coconut oil, which seems to be working even better. She was starting to get it on her chest, and after one application, it was gone. I put it on her dry skin after her bath and wiped it off with a clean, damp cloth. You can get the proportions here.

Witch hazel in the bath. Friends had mixed results, but I stand by this one. I think it keeps their pores clearer. I also found it was better to use warm water, despite the traditional wisdom, because cold water closes your pores. The witch hazel can be hard to find, though…rubbing alcohol might do the same thing, but it’d be tougher on your skin and in the eyes during hair rinsing. (And let’s face it: our neighbors already think we’re turning the screws on them every night at bathtime. Oy.)

Share, share, share your secrets for beating the heat. Please?!

Keep your cool, mamas. You’ve got this.

How do I…prepare for a hurricane? (Part 2: Communication)



So how are you going to KNOW when there’s a hurricane coming? Around here, my Haitian friends usually think there’s one coming when there isn’t, and when there is, they don’t believe me. (If only they knew the story of the boy who cried wolf…sigh.) So maybe don’t rely on the radio.

If you’re social media savvy, you can follow the National Hurricane Center on Twitter for the Atlantic Outlook or the Pacific Outlook. They also have a Facebook page (which I recently found out is “so over” among the young people. Who knew.). If you’re in Asia, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center might be more helpful.  The National Weather Service for the United States also monitors worldwide weather systems. Not to be outdone, apparently NASA had to get in on that, too, and their site is also worldwide. At any rate, if you hear something and you’re trying to confirm it, you can always search hashtags on Twitter: #hurricane #haiti for example. Google News also allows you to set up news alerts, so you could set up something there to get certain words or phrases (“Hurricane,” “Tropical storm,” “we’re all going to die”) sent to your news page. (Sidenote: the National Hurricane Center used to send out emails, but because of budget cuts, they had to stop. I’d like to know how much money that saved. Really.)

If you’re registered with your embassy, they may also sending you a warning, but in my experience, they tend to be a bit late in coming. (By the way, Americans, you should register with the State Department. It doesn’t hurt, and sometimes, you get helpful information.)


Stay calm, darlin’. Deep breaths. Remember: BFFS. First, reach out to your boss. Find out if they need your help in preparing (assuming your own home is prepared). They may want to evacuate you or they may not be aware of what’s coming. Next, reach out to your family and friends. Let them know that you’re aware of what’s happening and ask for prayer. Well-meaning people may start coming out of the woodwork to let you know about IMPENDING DANGER, because let’s face it, we all love a good crisis when it’s happening to someone else. Lastly, but not leastly, reach out to your supporters. This is easily done if you have MailChimp or ConstantContact or a Facebook group. You could write up a template if you’re worried about needing to write something on the fly. Let them know that you may be out of contact for a while and that they shouldn’t worry if they can’t get a hold of you.

Thankfully, these things don’t usually come on suddenly, right? You usually get some pretty good warning. So that gives you a chance to make sure your phone is charged! If you have a generator, make sure you’ve got fuel so you can keep your phones charged. You might also consider getting a small solar phone charger. It’ll be overcast for a few days after the storm passes, but you can still charge it before it hits and save it. You can also find phone chargers that are powered by regular batteries now. What will they think of next?


Good point, mama.

Having a communication plan can help, too. For our family, if I can’t get a hold of David and I can’t get home, I’m supposed to head to J’s house, and he knows that’s where he’s supposed to start looking for me. Most of my other coworkers live near me, so we picked someone across town.

After a storm of any kind, phone service is usually jammed with people trying to call their loved ones and figure out what’s going on. A short text like “I M OK R U?” may get through better than a long one detailing where you are, what the wind speed was, and how many chickens you saw getting swept down the street. Phone calls will likely be difficult or impossible unless you have a satellite phone. Even then, you may get interference from the weather itself. If you can get the internet (because you charged up that phone, right?), you could also use WhatsApp or Messenger or even Snapchat, if you’re with a whippersnapper or if you’re an exceptionally cool mom. After Hurricane Matthew here in Haiti, Facebook also had a way to “check in” and let people know you were safe.


Mama, have faith in your organization and in your God. Neither one is going to leave you stranded, right? That’s what the emergency box is for. Hug your family, make some cocoa, curl up with a good book. Even the longest night ends eventually.

Fun times, eh?

Hee hee. Yeah.

How Living Overseas Has Kind of Messed Me Up | All These Things

This is for real. In Oregon, I once heard my parents’ neighbor mowing his lawn and thought, ‘Why is he running his generator? The power’s on!’ Yes. I forgot what lawnmowers sound like. Sigh. So messed up.

How do I…prepare for a hurricane? (Part 1: Food) 


Happy almost June, ladies! Around these parts, that means the start of hurricane season. And as we all know, the second best time to prepare for a hurricane is when there isn’t one coming. You don’t want to be fighting with your neighbor over the last can of spam, for so many reasons.

I used to seriously panic over storms and hurricanes…and maybe I still do, a little bit. But when I know I’m not going to run out of toilet paper, that settles my heart a bit. Mama’s got needs, right? 

So if you need help getting an emergency box started, here’s what was in mine when I went through it this week:

  • Toilet paper (I wasn’t joking)
  • Shelf-stable yogurt
  • A radio
  • Peanut butter
  • Salt
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Gatorade
  • Can opener
  • Sugar
  • Tuna
  • Mayo
  • Matches
  • Chicken boullion cubes
  • Floor cleaner
  • Face masks
  • Wet wipes
  • Dish soap
  • Chickpeas
  • Spaghetti
  • Dust masks
  • Deet
  • Emergency poncho
  • Laundry detergent
  • Honey
  • Peanuts
  • Coconut flour
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cheese wedges
  • Salsa
  • Applesauce
  • Oatmeal
  • Gallon size ziploc bags
  • Yeast

So you may have noticed a few odd things in here: the dust masks are because post-earthquake, the air was filled with concrete dust. The honey and coconut flour are for gluten-free cooking, because that’s how we eat. Governments and organizations often recommend things like spam…but if we don’t eat that normally, I find it hard to believe that my kids are suddenly going to be okay with that, even in an emergency.

Here’s some things I thought my box was lacking:

  • Dry milk
  • Dried mango
  • Dried zucchini
  • Cornmeal
  • Oil of some kind
  • Lemon juice
  • Popcorn
  • Red lentils
  • A bar of soap
  • Vitamins
  • Rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Canned soup
  • Basic spices
  • Plantain chips
  • Hard candy
  • Phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • Trash bags
  • First aid kit
  • Bleach

I endeavor to make this a resource I could take with me in the event of a land evacuation or pass to a Haitian friend in need. After the earthquake, the pilots ended up living communally and at the airport; things like a can opener would be pretty helpful in that case, I’d imagine. That being said, I try to keep lots of dry beans and such on hand anyway.

Here’s a printable list for grocery shopping or whatnot: Emergency Box Supplies. Remember, this is my list; if your family won’t eat this stuff, having a box of food my family likes is pointless, right? So tailor it to yours. I also put a place to note the expiration date, so you can check and see what should be replaced or eaten before it goes bad.

These resources might be useful to you as well: (Although all the parts about insurance coverage probably aren’t going to apply to you…)

Helpful, I hope? Love you, mamas. You’ve got this!

10 ways to be a good missionary host | The Missions Blog

This is a great primer on hosting guests. I would add a few things:

1. Write out your house’s guidelines. They’re going to be tired when they arrive and may not remember which water is safe to drink, etc. I also include the wifi password on this sheet, since most people have several devices they want to connect.

2. Ask about dietary and/or medical needs before they arrive. I’ve had several guests sit down to their first meal, only to say, “Oh, I guess I should’ve mentioned…” That left me scrambling! Others assumed that their medication would be available here. Asking sets up better expectations for everyone. It also gives them a chance to ask about appropriate dress, gifts for friends, etc. 

3. Make sure you provide your address and phone number for their customs paperwork. I also usually provide a suggested packing list with things like a swimsuit, a reusable water bottle, bug repellent, etc. 

4. Assure guests that you want to know if they’re sick. Americans tend to try and hide illness for some reason. Let them know that you probably have something in your stash that can help them. 

5. If it’s a long-term guest, ask about laundry and provide a bag or basket for dirty clothes. Some people are understandably uncomfortable with other people washing their undies. Let them know how to do it themselves when it won’t be a problem for you, or offer to throw their stuff in with yours. 

5. Don’t change the sheets until you know for sure their flight has left…with them on it. Just trust me on this one. 

And above all, enjoy them! Ask what God’s doing in their ministry. How has He been faithful? How has He sustained them in hard times? We all need to hear encouragement that He’s at work. 

You’ve got this, mamas. 

Oh, prepositions…

At the vet with my dog, who developed an infected paw while we were on vacation…the vet says, “I’m going to have to put her down…” and my heart stopped. Then I realized he was still talking, about the cost of anesthesia…hey Doc, that’s “put her under,” not “put her down!” He scared me for a minute there! 

Got any language “oops” moments to share today? 

My Mother’s Day Gift to Myself

I have a confession: I’m really good at beating myself up. Like, Olympics-level good. My kids were talking about Mother’s Day, and all I could think was “I hope they don’t spend any money; I don’t deserve that.” Is that true? Unlikely. So as an exercise, I decided to think of five things I’m doing well as a mom. It wasn’t as hard as I thought…and it sure felt a lot better than thinking about the Mt. Washmore situation in the laundry room. 
So here I go. 

1. I am feeding my family healthy food. They may not like it, but they’re eating it. 

2. I show respect for their dad. I’m actually pretty good at this one, even when he’s not around. If Dad asks it, we do it. Always. 

3. I model being a reader and read often with them. I love books and want to pass that love on to them! 

4. We talk about God often. I knew a missionary mama who did this so well, and by her example, I learned a lot about keeping God in our conversation “as you walk down the road.” 

5. I love my kids. You may consider it a given, but I’ve known some mamas who didn’t. It’s no small thing to love someone who can’t be convinced to stop saying “kaka” and won’t eat pasta sauce of any kind and keeps calling you by your first name. No small thing at all. 

What are you doing well? Will you courageously share with us? 

Happy You Day, mamas! You’ve got this (holiday). 

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