Friday, November 21, 2008

A Typical Day

Thoughts for Missionary Wives

I am often asked what is a typical day like living on the mission field . It is a very hard question to answer. You must understand that every circumstance is different. The missionary's schedule will be dictated by the culture in which he works, the level of his language skills, the ministry role in which he has been placed, and even the missionary's personality.

Our days in the jungle were completely different than our days here in Paraguay. Both were full of ministry but ministering to our flock was different there than it will be here. We do not do any medical work here, we do not need to do translation work, but we still have a ministry. Right now we are still discovering where best we might serve and where our particular skills are most needed.

A common misconception some people hold is in regards to what the role of the missionary wife should be. Wives on the mission field do indeed serve in various capacities, but their ministries will be different depending on several factors. How many children are in the home? Does she have small children? Does she need to home school the children? What are her living conditions? (Carrying water, cooking with fire wood, hand washing laundry do take time!)What help does her husband require of her? Her ministry will be ever changing as the dynamics of her home change.

My job is to be the wife my husband needs, finish raising our children yet at home, which includes home schooling them, and if my husband needs me to serve in a capacity of ministry, I will do that as well. But, in my case, I am only a woman married to a missionary. Being a missionary is not my real job! I do not get paid to be a missionary nor do I punch a time clock. I am a stay at home wife and mother and I happen to live on the mission field.

As a child of God I do feel required to take part in christian service as is every other Christian where ever they may live. I have the privilege of enjoying my life as the wife of a missionary and I also feel fulfilled in my role as wife and mother. Serving my Lord on the mission field is just the icing on the cake!

I would like to be able to instruct younger missionary wives as to the role which they play on the field. Every woman is different and married to a different man. Every ministry will ask different things of different people, but the missionary wife must never feel guilty for putting her time and energy first into her family.

Some families are able to find adequate education for their children on the field and I am not assuming to know what may be best for another family, but even if your children are enrolled in a school your job as a wife and mother will still require much time. Some woman even need to have outside interests and ministry will fulfill this for her, but in balance. This time away from the home duties may allow you to came back refreshed.

The work of a home maker seems to always be more time consuming in third world countries. We do not have the option of packaged foods, fast foods, we do not have central air and heat to keep dust out of the home. We sometimes lack time saving appliances commonly found in the American home. Our electricity and water go out often which requires more work. Buying groceries and other supplies takes much more time as we do not have the convenience of a Super Wal-Mart with one stop shopping. Even paying bills takes a lot of time. We can not do it online or even mail in a check, we have to go stand in several lines to pay each one. Of course, that is after standing in line at the bank to change our money in order to pay the bills, all the while watching our backs to make sure we will not be robbed as we leave the bank.

How many times have I seen women on the mission field break under the pressure she feels to perform more than she is capable of! This often leads to depression and even leaving the mission field. Perhaps, if the missionary wife would relax a bit and give herself the opportunity to be 'just another woman' this would not happen so often. Remember you are under extra stress just dealing with life in a new culture and and language.

To the younger wives I would remind you that your children will grow up and you will have more time available for ministry then. Never forget your people are observing you and the best testimony is for you to show them a Christian woman who is at peace and content.

I have known other phenomenal women who were able to do it all! Sadly, I have known many who gave up, not feeling adequate to the job they assumed others expected of them. Sometimes this pressure comes from well meaning folks stateside who somehow think the wife of a missionary should be capable of more than any other woman. A Christian Super Woman with special powers! Some even think that the wife is an employee of the mission, which may be the case for some, but not all.

So dear younger missionary wife, don't forget to enjoy your life. Don't forget to be available to your husband as a wife, not an employee, put your best time and effort into your children, and serve God first at home. Remember you also need time to study and promote your own intellectual and spiritual growth as this will only serve you in your capacity as a counselor to others. And you will be a counselor!

God will always provide the right ministry for you that will not be more than you can handle. If you are stressing out, feeling pressured to perform, loosing joy in your marriage, or do not have control of your home and yet still try to be involved in ministry outside of the home, you are doing too much.

God does not want His children to serve out of duty alone but with a heart of joy. Service to Him will never require you to abandon your first calling to the home. If this is the case for you, perhaps you need to step back and re-evaluate what you are doing and where you are expending most of your energy. Plan a little time for relaxation and fun each and every day, it will only make you a better person.

Maybe you need a hobby... might I suggest blogging?

My husband's typical missionary day;


5:00- 8:00 am- Wake up, study for messages and prepare teaching literature

9:00-10:30 am- Coffee, fellowship and accountability meeting with 3 other missionaries
11:00-12:00 am- Teach two daughters separate algebra classes

12:00- lunch with family
1:00-2:30 pm- meeting with Paraguayan Air Force Major concerning upcoming seminar for Air Force Officers. Seminar begins Friday morning and will continue for 8 weeks.

3:00 4:00 pm- meeting with contact in regards to this weekend's trip to Brazilian border (for teaching)

5:00-8:00 pm - home for dinner, family time
8:00 -9:00pm- meet with church leaders of a local church needing a Pastor

10:00 -11:00pm - visit with neighbors at their invitation
11:00 pm-1:00am- more computer work preparing teaching materials for Friday morning's classes at Air Force



5:00am- up again!!!

7:00-11:00 am- Give a Seminar on the dangers and damages of pornography to the Paraguayan Air Force Warrant Officers .

12:00-1:00 am- grill the meat for lunch

1:00-2:00pm- teach two algebra classes to the girls

2:00-4:00 pm- family time

4:00-5:00 pm- Discipleship class

5:00 -12:00 pm- prepare for overnight bus trip to the Brazilian border

- bus trip

He doesn't sleep, never has. I feel it is my responsibility to try and make up for all the hours he misses. It is a tough job but one I take very seriously! :)


Betty said...

I love this post! You say some very important stuff for missionary wives and I am going to send the link to my sister (the one in China).

Susan said...

This is an excellent article, Rita! I've found myself comparing myself to other missionary wives here. My husband continually reminds me that each of our churches are different, and each wife has different roles. My number one job is being his wife and my children's mother! I'm going to send this to my sister, a missionary wife in Mexico. She's not a "young" mother, as in just starting out, but I know she would enjoy reading this.

cube said...

I don't know how you all do it. I'm in awe.

grammy said...

Very good post. My daughter has worked in missions for the last 12 years. She is in the states now and seems so lost. Once you have lived the missionary life, it seems so hard to live and work in the states. She is working part time for an agency that sends her to do workshops. She was suppose to go to Pakistan and Afghanistan in Jan. but those have been canceled for awhile. Here is a question to you from me, the mom of 'mission girl'. She is 33 and dating a man here. She loves him but says she worries that he may not have the same heart for missions as she does. What would your advise, or what would your thoughts on that be? You can email me if you have time to answer. Thanks

Anonymous said...

my question is:

Why did you go to Paraguay when USA is in worst condition and LOST.You're fully aware i suppose of immoralties and other evil problems in America and , well trained in the Bible should work hard in your country. Why Paraguay? of course you will say it's God's leading what else can we say. But your kids are there already. But really why American missionaries go to other countries when America is more Lost.

Mr. Missionary in my own country

Jungle Mom said...

Mr. Missionary,
Your syntax does not look like it is American English. (Just an observation)
Yes, the US needs more Christian witness but there are many more Christians there than here with access to education, books, and funds. Maybe its just that most American Christians tend to be lazy in their witness.
There is no place on earth that doesn't need missionaries. The Great Commission tells us to go into all the world. The Bible specifically tells is in Acts 1:8, 'But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.'
My husband has Mexican family and felt he should minister a Spanish speaking country.
I have one son and his wife in the states, my oldest daughter is here with her family, and my other two are still minors, I have no idea where they may end up.
Souls are souls and God put us here but we are all to serve where ever we may be.

gecko said...

What a great post, and great advice jm! Your responsibility to the lack of sleep is also something I agree with, lol.

~K~ said...

Thanks for the great post, JM. It encouraged my heart!

Brenda said...

Good stuff. Brave of you to post this. I would love to hear what younger women really think of this.

Our husbands lead exhausting lives, no doubt. Lots of people tell us they would never work as hard as we do and that its not good for us etc. But we are happy and fulfilled and know we are where God has us.

What else matters?

Rhonda in Chile said...

That's the truth! We're all called to different places, with different challenges. We cannot be Super Missionary Wife. If we try, we are setting ourselves up for failure. At the very least, we will be overworked, overtired, and probably cranky.

I also see this problem in Pastor's wives in the US and it saddens me. I've heard of pastors who hire assistants, but include the wife when handing out assignments and responsabilities.
I have to remember that my first duty is to home and family, then church ministry.
Of course I didn't always feel that way. I felt like I had to do it all. Some days, I still do.

Maybe there needs to be a Bible college course called "the missionary wife" written and taught by missionary wives. Hmm there's a thought.

God Bless, Jungle Mom!

FJ said...

Sounds like you've got the job well in hand, jm!

Shane Rios said...

Wow uncle Clint has a big schedule!

groovyoldlady said...

Amazing post, Rita. I think people put some tremendously unrealistic expectations on missionaries to be super Saints, just they do to pastors and their wives.

I know when my daughter joined O.M. as an office missionary here in the States, she left after 2 years a bit disillusioned because her fellow missionaries were just ordinary people who DID love God, but who also struggled with sin and self, just like the rest of us.

Sarah Joy said...

Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!!

And, thank you, Rita. We need more of the experienced women in ministry reaching out to us youngsters and helping us to have the right perspective. One of the most important things I've learned in the past three years while living it Tijuana is that it's not God's will for us to be overwhelmed and desperate. He desires peace for all of us, and if I don't have it, I might need to go look at my load and take off everything God didn't put on me. "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Penless Thoughts said...

I really enjoyed this, Rita. I haven't been around for awhile. I think what you wrote applies to all wives and mothers except for the living in a different area part.

"If you are stressing out, feeling pressured to perform, loosing joy in your marriage, or do not have control of your home and yet still try to be involved in ministry outside of the home, you are doing too much." Doing too much in our own power instead of the peace and joy of the Lord. So many people get caught in this one.

Webutante said...

Lovely post Rita, as always. Would like you to pray for my children in NYC. I am in DC on my way up there tomorrow for the baby shower. My son just called to say his beautiful wife who is 7 months pregnant had to be put in the hospital today with contractions. I am on my way up there early in the morning. I ask you and Pam especially to keep them and us in your prayers....all of her family is in England and Scotland, so far away. May God use this to draw them closer to HIM. Thank you so much.

Nina in Portugal said...

Thank You for the reminder. My Husband and Family come first. All the other things will fall into place in due time.

I thought you handled "Mr. Missionary" quite well!

And No I wouldn't like to know how to kill a turkey and prepare it. But thanks so much for offering to share that with me....God knew what he was doing when he gave me a butcher right down the road!!

Baptist Girl said...

Thank you all for doing what you and your family for doing what you do for our Lord and Savior. More folks need to step up in their own countries and out side their own countries and be thankful and prayerful for those that do..


Liz said...

Oh dear Rita, you and your hubby do a great job!! always have.

What I like the most about you guys is that you're just down to earth, that's nice... you're normal people with an out of the ordinary job!

Joshua said...

Umm how do i say this nicely, I dont care about what you missionary wives do I want my saturday morning cartoons.

Findalis said...

Wonderful post. Reading your blog has given me a better understanding of the life that missionaries lead. I always assumed that it was just Church and church related activities.

Thank you.

degree said...

i visit your site n i got more information then other visited last month
was good enough then last what i had gone throught

work and study