It’s 9:00pm, I just walked my coworker home just in case the drunk guys out on the trail between our houses were still there. It turns out they had moved on and she was able to walk to her house under the light of the full moon by herself, letting herself into her house in the middle of the jungle far from family and a world away from the culture she grew up in. Life as a single missionary on the mission field is a sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice she has willingly taken.
But not just for her, life here in the middle of the village somewhere in the outskirts of PNG is also rough on married woman, specifically my married woman. I walked back in the house to the remains of my birthday party. The fact that supper was late was bothering her, that and the fact that the cupcakes hadn’t looked the way she had pictured them in her mind (thanks to the unattainable images presented by Cake Boss). But to top it off, it was a week late, but it wasn’t her fault.
Deep down inside she knew. She knew that the previous week I, her husband, had led a workshop for missionaries all over PNG. She also knew that accompanying him was a Patpatar pastor who was, for the first time, teaching not just the local congregation in his tribe, but missionaries from all over PNG who could potentially impact countless other churches and tribes. She knew too, that during that time, she and nearly 40 Patpatar believers along with Christians from 4 other languages on our island had gathered for their 4th annual conference.
The reasons for being separated were worth it, but at the moment it was still hard. 5 moves in less than 2 weeks was difficult and throw in homeschooling on top of that, impossible. But she had done it, and was now back home. That in and of itself should have been a relief, but finding a third deposit of rotting rodent in a drawer didn’t make it feel that way. Washing the dishing with just a little bit of water so we wouldn’t run out because of the drought, having to turn on the generator to do the laundry and baking, having the door knocked on as if our door was the last one standing in the world and a door-to-door salesman with repetitive compulsive behavior lived nearby was starting to add up.
Her not-enoughness was becoming evident, the term looser came to mind, and that iconic new but old term, “fail.” It was supposed to be a fun birthday party, but it just became another evening of trying to get everything done.
May you know this, the life of a missionary is not easy. Leaving the conveniences and pleasure of home is not fun. Walking away from friends and family is hard. Trying to be that perfect wife and mom and missionary in a place that begs imperfection is wearing. But your calling is sure. Your purpose is great. Your mission is possible. Your sacrifice is worth it.
Yet may I also add this and may you not forget. While I honor and uplift you, it is not ultimately about your feats. Your sufferings are not necessarily that monumental. It is not so much about what you have done and haven’t done, as much as it is about what God is doing through you. It is His story that He has started from eternity past and has chosen you to be a part of it. It is His glory that is to be shared among all nations, tribes, and tongues and you get to be a conduit of that message. It is His desire to make Himself known to everyone and you get to experience it firsthand.
You are incredible. Those cupcakes that looked nothing like what you intended were delicious. You are an incredible example of a missionary wife, but it is the one you serve that I am most in awe. Your Creator, your Master, your Lord, your God, it is Him that I am most impressed with. It is Him that you reflect. So whether you sweep, or teach or whatever you do, don’t feel discouraged with your limitations, but do it all for the glory of God.
Fact – With things going on in the village on Thanksgiving Day this year, we were not able to pause and celebrate it as traditionally done. But last weekend in town we had an early Thanksgiving meal in Papua New Guinea with a fellow American family, a Canadian, and an Australian. Truly an example different folks coming together in thankfulness to God for what he has done.