Confessions of a missionary wife: embracing the spectacle…

by mendibpng

Ellie, Noah, Jenny Beth and Jacob with their village friends and spectators…

One of the things which feels ‘normal’ to me is people staring at me. As an MK growing up in Indonesia, I often had people pinching me, laughing at me and calling me names from a distance whenever I left my house. I came to Papua New Guinea thinking that I was used to all of that. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was to see it happen to my children. (At least the pinching and pulling hair is not a problem in our villages—we always have a huge crowd of followers whenever we leave our house.) During village stays, we stay inside our house a lot because of the demands of living…cooking everything from scratch, doing chores with minimal modern conveniences and of course homeschooling. However, sometimes in the afternoon, after the twins have their naps, we take a walk outside. If I feel too lazy to go out, I still push myself to do it because Jacob inevitably declares, “I want to run!!” So off we’ll go to a small courtyard where he and Jenny Beth run in circles or take off down a path to another hamlet. One afternoon when we had a particularly large crowd following the twins everywhere, I thought I’d just embrace the moment and get it on camera. I took the above picture and all of the kids crowded around to see it on the little LCD screen. Notice how Ellie and Noah protect their little siblings—it’s really sweet!

As I reflected on that afternoon, I thought, some things, like getting stared at and being the center of attention, can be extremely annoying. But if I am not too annoyed to think straight, I realize that this is one thing that comes with the territory. I can use the opportunity of having a captive audience to speak a kind word or even share my love for Jesus. I just have to look past my own personal level of comfort. It doesn’t mean I’ll ever enjoy being the spectacle but I can live with it because I’ve chosen to be there. And I have a place (my house!) to retreat to when I need a little privacy. (Although a mom of five children rarely gets privacy anyways!) Seems like most things in this life we’ve chosen end up being about balance. How much of myself can I sacrifice without crossing onto the side of insanity?! It’s not an easy question but it is one that constantly pops up when I deal with cross cultural living. And now as a mother, I am often looking for signs in my children, of when their comfort levels have been pushed too far. Thankfully they have become attuned to their feelings and can usually articulate what is going on. One day at a time…

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