Maybe you women out there wonder what it’s like to be a mother overseas.
I’d like to say that it’s exciting, adventurous, and extremely different from being a mother back home in the USA. I’d like to say that most days I’m a superwoman missionary out in the villages, that I enjoy cooking everything from scratch, or that I can set broken bones with my bare hands. I’d like to say that mothering in Mtwara has something of the foreign and exciting about it, but in reality, my experience overseas is extremely similar to being a mother back home. Our pediatrician may be a flight away instead of a drive away, we may be a little more worried about the every-day mosquito bite (malaria!) than the common American mother, and we may make our spaghetti sauce from whole tomatoes instead of break open a can, but all-in-all we have more in common than you think.
About 8 hours ahead of you, I wake up to grumpy babies, nurse a little one through teething, make breakfast and clean up the dishes, read a few books, have neighbor kids over to play, host someone for lunch, make a grocery list, run errands, put baby down for nap, do coloring projects on the floor, and generally hang on for dear life untill Dad gets home and takes over for bath time. My life is tea parties, changing diapers, tying shoes, bouncing the baby, and chopping onions. You might say, nothing exciting. Nothing earth shattering. Normal mom stuff. In fact, there’s no Wed night church, MOPS, or ladies Bible class, so I might stay home even more that most normal American homemakers.
For a long time I felt guilty about living such a “normal existence.” Weren’t there malnourished children only miles away from my home living in dirt huts in the villages? AIDS babies in our local hospital? Unbelievers in the millions out there to teach? Weren’t there a hundred good things I could do to relieve some daily suffering out there for any one of my hard-working friends? What good was I doing for any of them when I was training my toddler to obey or merely reading her a book?
But each morning God continues to wake me up as a mother. My offspring are ever present and obviously before me. They are the task at hand which He has given me. If I wasn’t available, who would nurse my baby, read Addie her English books, introduce her to new friends, or push her on the swing? Addie and Eleanora have half of my DNA, so it stands to reason that her Father and I know them and can minister to them more deeply than any other human beings. These beautiful girls are our first ministry and my main ministry.
If I don’t love my own daughters genuinely and sacrificially, they will merely join the ranks of the millions of the broken hearted in this world. Isn’t it good just to know that in this fallen place there are a few children who are loved and safe? If so, then who will provide that kind of love for Addie and Eleanora but myself? I pray that in my daily loving care for them, I will not just be loving them themselves; I hopI set off a ripple of love that will continue on and on to touch many more people’s lives. If I raise my children up to fear and love the Lord, how many others will my offspring finally touch?
Mother Theresa said that world peace starts in the home. She also said that love starts with a smile. It sounds cliche, but when was that last time that we smiled at our own children? Every mother can do that. A first step toward world peace and solving all of the terrible problems in this place is to pick up my baby tenderly when it cries. It sounds simple to love a baby, but if so, how come so many babies are unloved and alone? Loving a child is a huge undertaking, but it is so simple to start. We must at least try.
From this secure bond of love that comes first from the Lord and then flows from me into my daughters, from this safe family haven, we are energized to go out together and love others in our community in Mtwara that need the love of God. We may be in a place where needs are more obviously manifest, but each of you has a community that needs love—not just us missionaries.
Whatever setting you find yourself in as a mother, know that your job is holy. Know that God has appointed the time and the place in which you live so that you would reach out and know Him and bring your children along. These mundane motherly works are the tasks that He himself has charged us with. He was not above washing his disciples feet or making them a breakfast of fish.
And now I will pry my toddler from in front of the TV and get busy. Blessings! ;)
Grab a soda, pop some popcorn, and sit back for this quick and fun update from the Meeks family on what our team is up to in Mtwara. It is only three minutes long so don’t get too comfortable! :-)
Eleanora Jane Kellis was born on June 13th at 9:45 pm. She weighed 8 lbs 5 oz.
She is as sweet as can be and loves to be swaddled and snuggled.
We think she may be a red head.
This pics say more than we could say!
Ross and Heather