Monday, September 29, 2014

Seeking a Day of Rest

Ministry Mama, when is your day of rest?

Haha! Hoo-hoo! What a joke, you're probably thinking. DAY? Did you say DAY of rest?

The other day I read another missionary lady's Facebook post sharing her great discouragement in the ministry and desire to quit. In typical Facebook mode, I quickly shot back a response something like this: "Take some time to rest and refresh yourself in the Lord. Everything will look better after you've rested from ___ ministry."

Then I wondered at myself. I was giving advice that I rarely have applied personally.

I happen to be married to a turbo-charged Energizer Bunny. He loves to work and constantly introspects about laziness (this is a good thing! Laziness is a common sin of missionaries.) We have often had disagreements discussions in our married life about taking a "day off," what a "day off" constitutes, etc., until we got to the point where he has a generally scheduled self-appointed "day off" which he may use for "work" around the home or just to read a book or write or whatever. But he can't do "ministry" (if possible) on that day.

Our teammate is very similar to my husband (another good thing!) So after years of their wives asking them to slow down one day per week, our teammate asked me recently, "So when do you take a day off?"

That stumped me. How does a missionary housewife and mom take time off? Not even a day, but just a chunk of time?

We are busy with caring for our children, cooking, and housework.

We are doing that in foreign countries where everything takes more time.

On top of that, most of us homeschool our children. That deserves its own line.
Homeschooling is a full-time job.

We are doing all of the above + interruptions of nationals (depending on the culture you are serving).

We can't count shopping or running errands as time off. Often those days can be more stressful than staying home to homeschool the kids on a day with meltdowns (the kids', that is) and a head cold.

And Sunday does not count as a day off. For many missionary women, Sunday can be the most draining work day of the week. You have to think and teach the most important Book in the world in another language. There is no nursery, so you still have to care for your children, (fish those pacifiers out of the dirt, take the toddlers to the outhouse--don't TOUCH anything!, is my 7-year old climbing that fig tree??), and on top of that you are usually the children's Sunday School teacher, "bus ministry" helper for all those kids whose parents don't attend, choir director, cook, sweeper, whatever. After church, you may host church members or visitors for a meal at your house.

Compound all of the above with a personality that tends towards being introverted or spiritual gifting that may not be service or teaching.

Add on a slow spiritual drain because:
  • you don't fully hear sermons for years on end because it's in another language or you are busy keeping little ones quietly occupied
  • you are not having meaningful quiet time at home (because of distractions)
  • and you are constantly giving spiritually--you are sharpening, but no one is sharpening you; you are probably the strongest example of Christianity around.
Well...by now, anyone who is not a missionary mama of many (MMM) is officially categorizing this post as a complaining rant. That's not my point. Up till now I've just been answering potential objections by other MMMs who may smirk at me for bringing up the "day off" topic. I know that there's really no time for a day off. I myself haven't figured out what exactly to do about it.
The Creation of the Sun by Michelangelo
The Creation of the Sun by Michelangelo
But God took a day off. Jesus went off by Himself to pray and be with His heavenly Father. Whatever your view of the "sabbath" or the Lord's Day, we can still appeal to God's example from the beginning of creation that we were made to rest once in a while. So we need to figure out how we can find time to rest and refresh ourselves in the Lord.

If you've ever been put on bedrest, especially with other small children already under foot, you know that when forced to, an amazing amount of important work or ministries can be put on hold. God does not need a frantic, frazzled Martha counting the half-hour slots in her day to see where she could possibly fit in that new ministry that needs to be done. God prizes the meek and quiet spirit that Mary showed, taking time to sit at Jesus' feet and learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart. His burden is light.

I have read several blog posts by homeschooling mothers who speak of scheduling breaks or rest times for mama so that she doesn't get burned out. How much more should those thoughts apply to missionary mamas?
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
So missionary mama, please share your thoughts. How have you made time to rest? Do you take a chunk of time daily--maybe two hours each afternoon to nap, read a book, or read your Bible? My friend listens to sermons in her spare time, especially while working in the kitchen. When do you find time to hear another preacher's thoughts in English? Do you take a day off or two afternoons per week, maybe Saturday and Sunday? I realize you still have to cook and maybe do a load of laundry or two, but when do you find time to re-energize personally?

I do think it's important for our longevity in homeschooling and ministry. And if something is important, we prioritize it. So back to my question: how have YOU done this?




Friday, September 26, 2014

A Sour Milk Kind of Week



"Don't cry over spilled milk."
I'm pretty sure that old adage didn't mean that I couldn't cry over the two gallons of spoiled milk that flew out of my warm refrigerator and covered me and half my kitchen in a fatty, drippy mess Saturday morning.

It had been one of "those" weeks, really.
Monday started out a bit rocky, then Daddy volunteered to take the three-year-old to the market while the baby was napping and the older two were schooling.  It helped get us back on track, and I was looking forward to the rest of the week. Daddy headed out to buy fresh milk Tuesday morning. I knew I'd have to process it and cool it as best I could, because our electricity was due to be off most of the day, but if the lights came back on at 6 p.m., I didn't think we'd have too much trouble. The milk arrived about noon, but it was more than I'd planned on. I processed it and cooled it as best I could, and put the mostly cooled milk into my mostly cool refrigerator. We have a tropicalized refrigerator, which means that they are built to retain the cold longer, and as long as the electric company kept there end of the bargain, all would be well.
They didn't.
The magical hour of six o'clock came and went, and nothing happened.
I pasted a smile on my face and went about finishing supper in the semi-darkness. At 6:41 p.m. the lights came back on..............not that I was paying attention to the clock or anything. At 7:05 p.m. they went off again. Back on a few hours later, and then back off again a few more times all through the night.
Thus proceeded the rest of my week.
Lights on, lights off.
Lights on, lights off.
Lights on, lights off.
And every time the electricity went off, all I could think of was that milk in the refrigerator.

*I will add here, that when you live in a place with unstable electricity, all those warnings I heard growing up about food spoilage absolutely get thrown out the window, because if you followed those?
Well, you'd be pitching everything at least once or twice a week!
Those warnings? We like to think of them more as suggestions :)
And trust me, we have lots of practice when knowing if something is really bad enough to be thrown out!
I will also add here that our milk comes straight from the cow, is vat pasteurized by me, and does not go rancid very easily. If we ever have any that lasts more than seven days, I just make it into cottage cheese.

When I went to make hubby and me a cup of hot chocolate with the milk on Thursday night, I realized my milk was in trouble. As I heated it in the pan, it started separating into curds and whey.... We skipped the cocoa. Our lights had been so bad at this point that I just knew that we'd have electricity on Friday. I'd make my huge pot of milk into several tons of cottage cheese then. Bad choice. Friday's electricity was worse than the rest of week's put together and it just carried right into Saturday morning. At this point I figured out that we'd not had electricity about 20 of the last 24 hours.....not that I was counting or anything. Saturday morning I walked into my kitchen hoping to at least be able to salvage a few things out of my thoroughly warm refrigerator. I knew the milk would not be one of those things. I pulled the door open.......................
Well, you read the first paragraph.
Milk ~ spoiled, rotten, clumpy, warm, slimy, smelly flew out of the refrigerator and landed all over everything, me included.
I spent a lot of time scrubbing my kitchen Saturday morning.
You probably could have guessed that!

I also spent a lot of time thinking about my attitude.
A bit spoiled, a bit rotten, and probably a bit smelly this week, just like my milk.
An attitude that swung between entitlement ~ How dare they keep taking MY lights!
and false humility ~ Look how much I'm suffering as a missionary!
and rage ~ What is wrong with these people!?!
An attitude that was controlled by my circumstances and not by truth.
An attitude whose words were directed at people and things, but whose heart was pointing an accusing finger at God.
Every time I "raged against The Machine", I was really raging against the One who allowed The Machine to break.
I wasn't really just angry at the electric company, in the end I was really angry at God for allowing me to go through a hard week.
And that, my friends, is sin.

So with the scrubbing of the floors, and the walls, and the cabinets, and the refrigerator, and the freezer, and the mop, and my shoes, I made sure to do a bit of scrubbing of myself.
A good soul-scrubbing, washing away every bit of that sour attitude right along with the sour milk.


* I share this not to glory in my infirmities or pat myself on the back, but to simply share how Jesus keeps teaching me what I need to learn again and again. And if you find yourself in a sour milk kind of week? Maybe this story will be a blessing to you, too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Am a BMW

I am a Baptist Missionary Woman.

          I want to learn.

                    I want to grow.

                               I want to be more like Christ everyday.

As I look in His Word, I also find examples of women who gave all, sacrificed, and displayed God's powerful work in their lives.

I want to be one of those women who makes a difference for eternity. I want my life to demonstrate what God can do with women who are fully submitted, yielded, and abiding.


***********************************


I want to be recommendable like Phebe. (Romans 16:1)

I want to be a faithful teacher for my children like Lois and Eunice. (1 Timothy 1:5)

I want to be courageous and wise like Deborah. (Judges 4:4-8)

I want to be bold in faith like Zelophehad's daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah, and Tirzah. (Numbers 27:1-7)

I want to be faithful like Anna. (  )

I want to be graceful, ready to risk all, and confident in God's leading like Esther. (Esther 5:1-2; 7:4,6)

I want to be full of sacrificial faith and compassion like Jochebed. (Exodus 2:2-3)

I want to be a bold intercessor like Abigail. (1 Samuel 25:23-31)

I want to be meek, flexible and trusting like Sarah. ( )

I want to be a woman of prayer and faith like Hannah. (1 Samuel 1:9-20)

**********************************

As I look at these women, I realize they were just women. The greatness wasn't in them. The greatness was in their God.

And As I look at myself, I realize I am just me. But I serve a great God who is changing me, working in and through me.

I am a Baptist Missionary Woman. That is true... but that isn't what will make my life impact those around me. The difference will be made by the God I serve who is using me, transforming me, and directing me.

                                                                     And I love what He is doing.

(Thank you to those BMW's who contributed to this post.)




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Missionary Fairyland Grocery-ville

I want to take you on a trip. (Don't you just love adventures?)

There is a quaint little shopping spot called Missionary Fairyland Grocery-ville. It's a place made especially for missionary women. Today, I got special permission for anyone (missionaries or just friends of missionaries) to take a tour.

You can drive right up, and parking is always available. Isn't that lovely? You walk in the door and are immediately greeted with two happy things... a smiling door greeter and air conditioning.

As the door greeter hands you a basket, she asks if you need any help, and you respond, "No, thank you." Then you continue down the well-labelled aisles to find the items you need.

Oooohhh! A sale on your favorite items! Within minutes, you maneuver down the spacious aisles and find everything you need. You pile your treasures onto the checkout counter with ease because there was no line. The cashier smiles and greets you politely. She rings up each item as she chats with you. Then she gives you the total. She bags your items as you pull out your wallet. You pay and head on your way. You get home and whip together a fabulous meal with all the perfect ingredients. ***insert happy sigh, pink bunnies, and rainbows***

Back to Reality-ville.

Our favorite seasoning... TexJoy Steak Seasoning.
We bring it from the States.

Monday, September 15, 2014

That's Life in Africa!

A while ago, I shared a list of questions to ask missionaries; and in fact, I've even made up a questionnaire to ask other missionary women here at Baptist Missionary Women, but then I realized that I've never taken the time to answer them myself. So here are my answers to that questionnaire.

I am Amy Meyers, and I blog at Ita Vita African, which is Latin for "That's life in Africa!" I try to write on missions, whether generally or more specific to our field here in the rural villages of South Africa (like prayer letters or what a typical Sunday looks like for us) on Mondays, which I call Missional Monday. (I explain why I used the term "missional" here.)   I have a not-so-updated categorized list of my favorite posts on missions called Missions Musings.
  1. Children (how many? Ages?): We have four children, all born in April: Caleb (7), Colin (5), Callie (3), and Carson (2)
  2. Do you homeschool? Name your favorite curriculum that you use (whether just one subject, or an all-in-one): I use a mix of curriculum and lean classical in my philosophy of education, but probably my favorite curriculum specifically is The Story of the World (a 4-volume set on world history written in an engaging manner for grades 1-8), and more generally My Father’s World (more of an all-in-one scheduling history, science, Bible, art, and music), which utilizes Story of the World for some of its history assignments. I have researched quite a bit on homeschooling philosophies as well as reviewed several different curricula choices and am sharing that on my blog as well. Here is what we are using this year.
  3. Country of service: South Africa
  4. How long have you been there? My husband came single in June 2004, and I joined him after our marriage in 2005; I arrived in September.
  5. What do you do there? We are pioneering ministry amongst the Tsonga people, so after getting our feet wet and deciding where to live, we started a church called Elim Baptist Church. We also started a little Bible college called Limpopo Bible Institute and have graduated nine men, many of whom are pastoring in Zimbabwe currently. At this point, we have no students, however.
  6. Are you learning a language? How is it going? Are you discouraged? Yes, we minister in Xitsonga. We are not yet fluent, but other people consider us so. We can speak fairly well conversationally and translate lessons and sermons into Tsonga. Seth’s accent is much better than mine. In the beginning it was highly discouraging to learn Tsonga, but now we are encouraged. We actually began learning another tribal language at first, Xivenda, which I have lost quite a bit of, but Seth still uses at times.
  7. Success: Have you had any encouragement in ministry recently? Can you tell me two or three things that have encouraged you? Today, a young man in our church chose to follow Christ instead of living in immorality. This is a huge struggle for our young people, and therefore, a wonderful victory for his faith. Another encouragement is that our teammates (who do the same work as us in another village down the road) are having their opening service for their new church building this coming Sunday. We are also in a building project, and so it is encouraging to see their work come to completion!
  8. Challenges: What is your greatest challenge in ministry? What other difficulties wear you down? Probably the greatest challenge here is the African traditional worldview, which is so opposed to Christianity in general, and specifically to propositional thinking. It takes a long time to teach how to follow the logical steps of Biblical teachings, and further to integrate those truths into their lives and thoughts. Sometimes it seems that everything else (but specifically, their culture) trumps Christianity—and that that is how it will always be. The blindness and darkness of the culture is a drain that sucks our energy and will. The prosperity gospel and charismatic theology is also a huge challenge here.
  9. How is your life similar to life in America? South Africa is the richest African country, so there are several cities around the country that would look fairly American to an American visitor. In the cities you can go to grocery stores and buy products to cook almost all of the American recipes you desire (although you will have to cook more from scratch :)), and you can get technological items such as cameras or iPads (though they will be more expensive here). So we eat American foods most of the time, and although our data is limited, we now can even get wifi through cell phone technology. You might be really surprised to find not one, but two!, KFC’s in our own little village! (Since we moved here in 2006, they have built two strip malls in our village, which has become a hub for most of the villages around.)
  10. What are some special benefits you or your family experience from where you’re ministering? (or from being missionaries) We pay less for electricity because we live in the village, and until we had to purchase our well, our water was free from the municipality. (Of course, that’s also why we eventually had to buy the well, because the municipal water was highly undependable.) My point is that it’s cheaper to live in the village than to live in a city.  In general missionary children, in spite of the many difficulties they face, grow up with a broader view and knowledge of the world than if they’d stayed in America. We have all learned so much about the world and people, about the Gospel, and our own sinfulness, from being missionaries.
  11. What are some positives and negatives of your culture (that you’re ministering to)? Positives: freedom of religion, a general respect for whites (they view us as more educated and able in general), an enjoyment of children, generally friendly and hospitable; they know how to survive on little. Negatives: We have learned that culture is rooted in religion. African traditional religion has nothing to offer a culture. It is permeated with lying, fear and superstition, jealousy, immorality, drunkenness, greed, and laziness of body and mind. Christianity has had almost 2,000 years to change Western culture, but only 100-200 years or even fewer to affect sub-Saharan Africa. It will take much time and prayer to change their culture and worldviews to reflect Christianity instead of a stronghold of Satan.
  12. What sins might a missionary be especially tempted with that another Christian in the U.S. might not? This is actually a theme I’d like to cover in more depth soon, but here is a list of sins that missionaries are tempted with especially that my husband and I have come up with: laziness, bitterness, pride, discouragement, foolish planning, inconsideration, and being doctrinally superficial. And the longer I am here, I feel I must add cynicism to the list as well. Being here has brought to light so many personal secret sins that I didn’t fully realize before: anger and selfishness are two examples.
  13. What books have you been reading? Do you have any book recommendations? I would like to review more of my favorites on my blog, but haven’t found the time. I’ve got about 6 books reviews over there, including a couple of children’s books. This year I read a novel that was really a biography of John Calvin (Betrayal), which was interesting and spiritually helpful. (I did review that one.) My best book from this year is The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit by Matthew Henry. I'm blogging my way through that on Thursdays. For homeschooling, the most helpful books I’ve read thus far, which I recommend to all newbies, are The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy (which walks you through the different educational philosophies, and then helps you match up your personal philosophy with great curricula that share that philosophy.) My favorite missionary biography so far (so moving!) is The Apostle by John Pollock (on Paul). If you like Christian fantasy such as The Chronicles of Narnia (which is incredible, unbeatable, by the way), I’d recommend a kinda new series for you called The Binding of the Blade by L.B. Graham. There are 5 books in the series, and they are hard to put down once you hit book 3.
  14. How can we pray for your people or culture in a general way? Pray that they would be willing and enabled by Christ to stand alone against their culture when needed and to persevere in the faith.
  15. How can we pray for your family specifically? That we also would persevere in our love and service to the people here. That Seth and I would be encouraged in our work and in the Lord. That our children would be converted and would find joy and friendship in one another, since they have no close Christian possibilities for friendship here. That we would know how to help our missionary kids handle the pressures of their lives in another culture—when to push them to reach out of themselves more, and when to understand and be gentle with them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Have You Went on the Tour Yet?

When we were first praying about coming here, we had a romanticized view of what our home should be like. We were going to live in a "suffering for Jesus" missionary shack, thinking we could better relate to the people if we lived in a very humble abode. Through some very wise counsel, we changed our views. We were reminded that our family's goal is to stay on the field for a long time, and wherever we live needed to be conducive to that. We needed to be able to make our new house a home.

So instead of boxing God up in our plan of self sacrifice, we stepped back and let Him take the lead. Our home is much different that we originally imagined, and it is more beneficial in ministry, too. (I sure am thankful we let God choose the home!)

You are welcome to take a tour...

In case you didn't see yesterday's post, Baptist Missionary Women is taking you on a tour through the homes of fellow BMW's. Over the next few days, missionary women from all over the world are opening their homes to you to share with you God's blessing of a home on the field. Stop in each day to see the new additions to the blog links. Our home is on there, and we would love you to come visit us.



Proverbs 14:1 "Every wise woman buildeth her house:
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands."

It's fun seeing how these women have worked so hard to turn the places that God gives them into HOMES that minister to all who enter. (Many of them use their homes all the time for ministry!)

As you look at the homes submitted, praise the Lord for the special touches of hospitality and love that these ladies have given each place... Proverbs 31 being lived out on the field!

Be sure to leave them an encouraging comment on their personal blogs. It isn't easy putting our homes on display for the whole world! Each lady has worked hard to transform their house into a home, and I am sure they would love to hear from you.

So what have you done to make your house a home? How do you use your home for ministering to your own family as well as reaching out to others around you?

I will be back to my regular posting next week.

Charity, Southern Asia




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Missionary House Tours - Come Link Up!

Are you curious what the inside of a missionary's house looks like?  Want to get a "keeping it real" look at how these missionaries live?  Then here is your chance!  Join us for a home tour blog hop here at Baptist Missionary Women!




Missionaries, please link up your house tour below.  Whether you have posted to you blog recently or years ago.  Let's see it!  If you've done it in several blog posts, please share each one separately.

A few ladies don't have a blog, so I'll share their house tours on this post.

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Dee and her husband are furlough replacement missionaries.  While filling in for a young family with 4 children in Ireland, here is where they stayed...


 
And here is their living room while filling for missionaries in Hungary: 
 
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The LaRue Family
Missionaries on Deputation to Chile
 
Decorated the bedroom. Cheap $3 clearance decals from Target!

Hanging clothes on the line using our trailer awning while in Montana!

My kitchen!
 
Ironic decal I found and put on my pantry/linen closet door. I love our tiny home on wheels!!

The top bunk bed (and my youngest son with a book).

And here he is, showing off the bunk bed ladder. :)

One of the many views we've had in our trailer!!

My boys hanging out in the dining area :)
 
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Now it's your turn!  Please link up your blog post(s) below.
Be sure to copy the url of your blog post only!