“Mama! I’m thirsty!” “Mama! I need help!” “Mama, will you read to me?” “Mama, I love you so much!” Crying, screaming, fighting, playing, hugging, kissing, cleaning, reading, homeschooling; someone always needs me, and these are just some of the things that make up my days. This is to be expected; I am a stay-at-home missionary-mom with three little ones ages 5, 3, and 1; and baby number four is on the way.
God has given my family the task of serving Him in Papua New Guinea, and I have the privilege of being Mama to missionary kids, which is a full-time job! However, I often struggle on homeland ministry assignment when people ask me what my ministry is. I always feel that being wife, mama, and teacher, and making friends with nationals is never a good enough answer. How have I truly impacted God’s kingdom with these roles?
I have really wrestled with this during our time on the field and here in the U.S. on HMA as we prepare to return home to PNG. Is what I am doing truly “ministry”? I have not yet decided if the answer is yes or no, but I have at least decided that it is necessary. Over and over, Scripture states how our children are a blessing and priority and that we have a responsibility to raise them in the Lord. My husband and I have decided that our kids must come before ministry. How can we effectively minister if we as a family are unhealthy? So, for now, keeping us healthy looks like me staying in the home without a lot of other official “ministry.”
And you know what? I am happy with that because everyday life can be exhausting in a remote country like PNG. Power outages, little or no water at times, cooking everything from scratch, kids that are always filthy, and bouts of unexplained illness are just some normal daily occurrences. I also get to pour myself into my children. Missionary kids have some special challenges that many other kids don’t face: not knowing where they belong, saying goodbyes constantly, dealing with cultural challenges, and more. But they are also blessed in ways other kids aren’t, like growing up cross-culturally, being bilingual, having crazy pets, and many more amazing experiences. I get to be a part of every one of them, good or bad, and point our kids to the Lord through it all.
Another reality of ministering in PNG is that homeschooling is the only option for our kids’ education. The responsibility of their schooling falls on my shoulders. When we return to PNG, I will have my plate even more full with homeschooling my crew.
Since I focus on our house and kids, my husband is truly able to take part in some amazing ministry opportunities. Seth has done many building projects, taught classes, traveled into the bush to preach, and built deep friendships with young men in the area. And I don’t stay home all the time either. We go out as a family and fellowship with the amazing people we have been called to serve. I sit and visit with other mamas, and we watch our kids play together. I play sports with some of the youth while others watch our kids. We try to be a part of the Papua New Guineans’ community and live everyday life with them, as a family.
Is being a stay-at-home missionary-mom a ministry? I don’t know, but I am pretty blessed to be one.
PRAY: Raising kids is not for the weak. Take time to pray this quarter for those stay-at-home missionary-mamas who are balancing homeschooling, home responsibilities, and building relationships with others in their community. Pray that God will grant them small, still moments where He can continue to reveal Himself to them.