My grandmother was a missionary. She didn’t talk about it much. From what I’ve pieced together, they took a boat to Micronesia, and my grandfather taught people to read using the Sears catalog, because it was free. (Apparently, we’ve always been mediocre fundraisers.) The Trukese called her the banana tree lady, because she only had one kid at the time. Then, after a few years, they got back on the boat and went home.
I’m not that kind of missionary–I never would’ve made it onto the boat. I like Facetiming with the grandparents and Netflix and my immersion blender. I live in a city with several grocery stores. I don’t have a dirt floor (which is not to say it isn’t dirty). Let’s face it: compared to her, I’m kind of a poser missionary.
And yet, this is still about all I can handle. Being a missionary mama is still the most epic, rewarding, frustrating, maddening, blessed challenge I’ve ever taken on…and I know about challenge–I taught first grade.
Last year, as I considered starting a blog for profit to boost our income, I felt the Lord was firmly saying, “No.” In Titus, Paul writes that the older women are supposed to mentor the younger women in a variety of arenas: how to love their families well, how to keep their homes humming along, how to be kind, how to be pure, how to work together as a couple…and all that stuff just gets harder when you’re standing in the grocery store, unable to buy toilet paper, because it is all scented, and you hate scented toilet paper.
I would never judge a missionary mama who leaves the field. It’s not my place. In my heart, they’re still part of my tribe. But let’s face it–there aren’t as many “older” missionary mamas as there used to be. These days, people are getting back on the boat a lot sooner…which means there isn’t as much help around for the mamas who are just getting off.
But I’m afraid; I’m afraid some of you will read this and think I’m Wonder Woman–that I’ve got it all figured out after six years. That this is some kind of competition, and I’m winning, and you’re behind–and that’s the last thing I want you to think. And I’m afraid; I’m afraid some of you will read this and realize just how little I really know. But however afraid, however insufficient, however insecure…I’m here.
So just picture me, standing on the pier, waving at your boat, SO glad to see you. Ready to help you if I can. I want to see you persevere and learn to laugh more and overcome all the obstacles this missionary life can throw at you, as a foreign culture slowly becomes familiar. As you figure out the meaning of “Christ in you” in a new context, as you learn to depend on Him like never before.
You’ve got this, mama.