Serving the Servants
A Missionary wife may be involved in many different ministries. However, her top priority, humanly speaking, is always taking care of her own family.
At first glance you might think this a selfish priority, but in reality it is far more unselfish than selfish.
If she doesn't keep her family tops on her priority list, it may destroy her husband's ministry, and either shorten their length of service, or negate the eternal value of it.
If she is also a mother, failing to find the right balance between family and ministry could result in losing her children to the world.
There could be nothing more heart breaking than serving the Lord full-time for many years only to lose your own family and forfeit the opportunity to spend eternity with them, due to lack of balance, between your ministry, and personal life.
But, I won't concentrate on a mother's role in missions on this page, since I've had no personal experience with motherhood.
I love children, and always enjoy working with them, but the Lord didn't see fit to give me children. So I think it wise not to spend much time theorizing about the best way to find that balance.
Instead I'd like to share with you a little more about my experiences.
While my husband wires buildings, what am I doing?..You may wonder.
I confess, you probably won't find it very glamorous...
But, in truth, serving the Lord is rarely glamorous, and it may give you a better idea of what being a missionary wife on short term mission trips is all about.
My day usually begins around six in the morning. The apartment we stay in here in Mayagüez has a balcony that faces toward the east. As soon as I'm up, I dress, help my husband get settled, and then go out on the porch where I have my personal time with the Lord while watching the sunrise.
After my devotional time, I come in, make breakfast, do dishes, and take care of any preparations that need to be taken care of for the noon meal. Some salads need to be made several hours ahead, and meat may need to be taken out to thaw.
Next on the agenda, I try to get some exercise. Up until this trip I had been walking to the library to use their internet services, but this time we've bought a pre-paid internet air card so I can work right at our apartment. That has been a blessing!
Anyway, I still usually walk about twenty minutes in the morning before it gets too hot. There is a park about a quarter mile from the apartment. I usually go there to walk, and while walking I usually hand out tracts. Only eternity will reveal the impact of this ministry, but I do know that the Lord has promised His Word won't return void, so I trust He is using them as He sees fit.I also pray that the Lord will use the "seed" I'm "sowing", help it to fall on fertile ground and grow. I know that is something only He can do.
After walking I usually have several hours before I need to start lunch. During the first week, or week and a half of the trips, this time tends to be occupied mostly with shopping, or unpacking. I don't mean shopping just for food, but for the supplies the men need for their construction as well. Although the men usually go along, I usually do the driving here, since I lived here for ten years and am accustomed to the culture and traffic. After that first week and a half, shopping usually slows to only once or twice a week.
If I'm only shopping for food, I usually combine it with my morning walk and "kill two birds with one stone" so to speak. If I go early enough that may only take an hour to an hour and a half. However, if construction supplies are needed it usually takes half a day.
Once the unpacking and initial shopping is done, I can usually get some writing done during the morning two or three times a week. I am currently webmaster of three websites, this one, http://www.simplified-solar-power.com/, and http://www.effective-health-supplements.com/. Between the three sites, there is always something I need to get done.
You may be wondering why I can only write two or three times a week...
The answer is because I usually have to do wash at least a couple of times a week, since Dennis regularly sweats through at least three changes of clothes a day while he is here. Additionally, I need to clean the apartment at least once a week, and sometimes twice, since the building they are working in is connected to the apartment so a lot of construction dirt is constantly being tracked in.
Around noon I start getting lunch. Putting it on the table, eating and cleaning up usually takes about two and a half to three hours depending on the meal. The men are resting for about an hour and a half after lunch due to their health problems. I sometimes rest with them if I'm tired, or I may do computer work during that time. When they go back to work, I usually start planning the evening meal. If it doesn't need much cooking I may have a little more time to work on something I wasn't able to get done earlier.
After supper, I usually do whatever Dennis wants me to do. Of course, on Wednesdays we go to midweek service, but the church here also has services on Tuesday night, their prayer night, and on Friday night. Friday is an Awana ("Oansa" in Spanish)program for the children.
The men aren't up to working all day, and spending the evenings in services. So they don't usually do any of them other than Wednesday, and occasionally even Wednesday is too much for them.
Since I speak the language, the services are easier for me to understand and participate in so I'll occasionally go to on of the other services as well. I don't do it more regularly because frequently I haven't finished with supper, clean up, and preparations for the next day in time to make the services.
Additionally, sometimes we may need to go out in the evenings to get supplies. If not, I always have things to do on the computer.
On Short Term Mission Trips
Although the previous section shares some details about my experience as a missionary wife on short term mission trips, please realize a missionary wife could do many different things than those I'm doing.
A wife's experiences are largely determined by her husband, and what he is doing. If our short term ministry were one of street preaching, I might be singing before the preaching.
If we worked with daily vacation Bible schools, I might be teaching a class.
If we worked on translation, I might be typing or editing translation work.
If we had younger children, the majority of my time would undoubtedly be dedicated to taking care of them.
So, a missionary wife might do many things depending on her situation. Yet one thing I can assure you...
It's never boring.
Full time Service
Although I've not experienced full time service as a missionary wife, I've had the opportunity to observe many. A missionary wife who is living on the field full time has far greater opportunities for ministry than does a short term missionary simply because she has the ability to cultivate relationships over time. She may:
- visit with her husband
- head up the ladies' ministries at their church
- head up the children's ministries at the church
- head up, or be involved with the music ministries at their church
- work with ladies discipleship for new believers
I'm sure this list isn't exhaustive, but the opportunities for ministry are limited only by her time, interests, and talents.
Nonetheless, if she has children, she will need to be careful to dedicate the time they need to them.
There is no greater ministry in the world than being a mother. A missionary wife always needs to be careful not to neglect that, her most important ministry.
A missionary wife has a supporting, yet vital role in mission ministries. However most of her ministry is more mundane than glamorous.
So I believe I Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God", is a good theme verse for a missionary wife.
Although cooking and cleaning may not seem glamorous, it is vitally necessary so men can focus on their ministries. It is truly a ministry of serving those who are ministering!
May the Lord find us faithful so when we stand before Him we will here His, "Well done".
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