Dear Missionary Mom,
It’s hard for me to begin this letter, because I have so many things that I want to say to you.
First, this is for all of you. For all the Mom’s who are living overseas in a country different from the stamp on the front of your passport. For all you Mom’s who, along with their husbands and children, followed the call to move to a different country. Or maybe a different neighborhood, or people group or religious background.
But most of all, I’m writing this to you, Niger missionary Moms.
To my Mom:
How in the world did you do it? How did you survive the heat? How did you survive the isolation? How did you do it? How did you put dinner on the table for us every.single.day when you had to make it all from scratch? How did you survive the anguish of watching me sick with asthma and knowing that the oxygen machine at the nearest hospitable didn’t even work? How did you work through living so far away from your parents, your children’s grandparents? How did you go so long without a date night, or a babysitter?
I honestly don’t know how you did it! And I don’t even the words to express how thankful I am that you did do it. You gave me the best childhood I could have ever imagined, and for that I will always be thankful.
I think of all the things I struggle with on a daily basis as a Mom. I struggle with keeping up with the chores, I struggle with patience, I struggle with the weather, I struggle with getting something on the table for dinner. I struggle with the weather and the routines and making sure that my child has access to social outlets and educational oppurtunities. I struggle with worry: will that huge tree fall on our house? Will she ever get over her cold? Why hasn’t she pooped in three days? I struggle emotionally within myself, worrying if I am doing the right thing, saying the right thing, being the right voice to my child. I struggle with trusting God and listening to his word and remembering that He is always faithful. And I struggle with lonliness. I struggle with my marriage.
I struggle with all these things every single day, and I’m sure that most Moms can say the same.
But, you, missionary Mom, you say the same…and more. I know that you struggle to keep your house clean when the Sahara desert blows more dust in than you can ever keep out. I know that you struggle with the weather and cannot comprehend removing yourself from sitting directly in front of the AC to change a poopy diaper. I know that getting dinner on the table is often a multi-hour long investment that includes making everything from scratch, with a lot of non-existent ingredients. I know that you struggle with worrying about your child, and you don’t even libraries and parks and play dates or playgrounds to put on your schedule. I know that you struggle with worry: will he get malaria? Will he get tetanus? Is there a suicide bomber nearby? Will he witness poverty, death, sickness and discouragement in a way that he never should have? Will he get stung by a scorpion? Will he have a “simple” medical emergency that ends in death because there is no good medical care in this country? I know that you struggle with lonliness. Here you are in a foreign country…a country with different rules and different customs, different ways to drive down the street. And on top of all that, everyone speaks a different language. I know you struggle in your marriage. Your husband is gone all day long, and it seems that he has such a ministry to invest in. I know that you struggle with your marriage because it’s near dang impossible to find a babysitter and have a date night.
I know these things because now I have a totally different perspective. When I was living in Niger, I loved it. The heat…was hot…but it didn’t bother me. It didn’t keep me up at night worrying about whether my child was actually going to suffocate or die from heat rash. I didn’t understand the lonliness because I spoke the language. I didn’t understand how hard a marriage is, and I didn’t understand how badly you needed a freakin’ break. Now I understand a little bit better.
And I admire you, missionary Mom. God has called you to something that is so incredibly difficult. Yes, there is no better place to be than in the very center of God’s will. And if his will is Niger, that is where you will feel the most peace. But that doesn’t make it easy. I admire you so much for following the call and being willing to weather motherhood through the messy and the difficult. I admire you so much for taking the time to trust God that He will protect you and your children, and never leave you (even though I know some days you would tell me that you are actually really struggling). I admire you so much for coming up with creative meal plan ideas that your children want to eat. I admire you for honoring your husband and working alongside him, even though sometimes it probably feels like the lonliest place in the world. I admire you for every single time you step outside your gate, the sweat dripping down your back, headscarf tied precariously on your head. I admire you every time you open your mouth and speak a French word, a Hausa, a Songhai word. I know that those words don’t come naturally, and every time you speak one, you wonder if you are going to be laughed out. I admire you for all of that.
And I think of you, dear missionary Mom. I think of during my day. I think of you in the morning when I wake up and wonder how you are doing over there on the other side of the world. I think of you when I’m changing a poopy diaper, knowing that you are doing the same. I think of you when I’m sweeping the grass off my floor, knowing that you are sweeping the dust off yours. I think of you when my husband leaves for the day, because I know your husband has also left for yours. I think of you when I go out to run errands. I buckle my kids into their carseats and browse the over-crowded aisles of my gloriously lit supermarket, while you stop at 19 different shops and stalls before you can find one bag of flour without bugs in it. I think of you when I notice my daughter has a rash, because I bet on the other side of the world your daughter also has a rash, and it causes worry in both of our hearts. I think of you when dinnertime comes around. I felt off today, so I ordered a pizza and took my kids to Chick-fil-A for dessert. But you, dear missionary Mom, don’t really have that option. Instead, you toiled (in your hot kitchen) to make dinner from your family, even though your son complained that there was no “real” Taco seasoning in the tacos. I think of you when you get on Skype to call your parents across the ocean, plaster on a big smile and show them what your children did in school today. I think of you then, because I’m doing that, too, on the other side of the world. I think of you when you hit “end call” and cry into your husband’s shoulder because it’s so hard to be so far away from family. I think of you when I bathe my kids and kiss them and tell them how incredibly much God loves them. And across the world, you do the same with your kids, only you tuck them in under their mosquito nets. We both sigh, and take our own weary bodies to bed, worrying about this and that and how to accomplish tomorrow’s problems.
And isn’t it amazing, dear missionary Mom, that the same God who sustains you, also sustains me? Isn’t it awesome how we serve a mighty God who can get us through those gloriously mundane moments in each of our days? Isn’t it beautiful how we are all Moms…Moms who struggle with different things…but all Moms nonetheless? Isn’t it fabulous to think about how we are not alone?
Oh, no, dear missionary Mom, you are not alone. You are doing a fabulous job and I hope that you hear me when I say that you are put there for a reason. A reason that you may never know. You are doing God’s work, dear missionary Mom. Don’t ever forget that.
An Adult Missionary Kid