Confessions of a missionary wife: self pity or gratitude?

by mendibpng


I’ve been struggling with some kind of flu since Christmas day. Because it hit me so severely, we cancelled our family holiday and we never had Christmas dinner until Friday of this week. I spent the next week basically in bed while my family fended for themselves. I’ve slowly started getting better; however, if I have a really good day (like yesterday) then I am tempted to do too much and end up with exhaustion, sinus pain, etc. Three other frustrations hit me this morning on top of feeling sick and tired and I wanted to just sit in my room behind a closed door and shirk my responsibilities. (ie looking after the twins, taking down Christmas decorations, cleaning the house, getting ready to leave for the village…) After he washed the mountain of dishes that I had already planned to do, Ben came in and reminded me of James 1 where we are supposed to consider it joy when we face troubles of any kind. I had quoted the same verse to Ben just a few days ago in the midst of a major computer failure while he was trying to get translation done. (SHOOT!)  Even though I know that my small ‘troubles’ of today are minuscule compared to people I am constantly in prayer for, I wanted to have my moment of self pity and frankly I wanted to stay in my room and avoid one person that I would need to confront this morning. Have I mentioned I hate conflict and disharmony? I would rather stuff all negative feelings as far down as they can go, thankyouverymuch!

Since getting sick, I’ve been so intent on keeping my family of eight fed and keeping things going (and if you are reading this and I haven’t answered an email please accept this as an apology!) I ignored the prodding from the Holy Spirit to write a post about what I’m thankful for. I’ve been so absorbed in my health (or lack of it!) that it’s really hard for me to actually think of anything I’m thankful for. So here it goes….

  1. Stability. I am thankful for my home and the stability it provides my family when we are in transition going to and from our village for translation workshops.
  2. Flowers. I am thankful for the previous owners of this house, who nurtured amazing flowers, creating an Aloha Path in front of the house. There are roses, several varieties of orchids and many other kinds of plants that I don’t know the name of! All I have to do is walk out my door to drink in their beauty.
  3. My kids. Having five of my own kids and an intern living with us means that my world is full of kids from the crack of dawn until late at night. I am never lonely!
  4. New team members. A few months ago, God spoke to me through the story in Exodus 18:13-22, where Jethro told Moses (please forgive my loose paraphrase) “what the heck are you thinking?? You can’t do this alone. You’ll burn out!” We tried to do too much with few personnel and began asking God to send help. Our team went from us, the Nystroms (working remotely), Beth, and Jessie to adding three more couples and another single, at least for the short term! It spoke volumes to me that God heard our cry for help and came through for us and for the 20,000 people of the Aitape West, who desperately need to hear the gospel through God’s Word in their own language(s).
  5. Aviation. We have been able to get in and out of our village fairly easily the last few times because of the provision of the helicopter!
  6. Ben. I have a husband who loves me and isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong. He listens to me without trying to ‘fix’ my issues and tries to understand me. He values my perspective as his equal. Six months ago he ordered things to come on a ship which make our kitchen so much easier to navigate. (Incidentally, this means he’s happier to be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up!)
  7. Shared purpose. Ben and I are both sold out for why we are here in Papua New Guinea. Early on, I asked God to make it clear to me that He wanted me to come to Papua New Guinea. He DID. And no matter how hard things get over here or how much I miss my family, I know I am supposed to be here. I’ve never once felt like Ben dragged me over to live out his dream. Never. And there’s nothing quite like sharing work that we both believe in.
  8. Health. If I am going to be honest here, my affliction is really just a blip in the whole scheme of life. I haven’t ever had a terminal illness or ongoing sickness, although being sick for weeks and weeks does give me a greater compassion for those who are struggling with these things.
  9. Safe friends. It has taken me a long time to get to the place where my closest friends are the ones I feel the safest with. I love the verse from Proverbs 13:20“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  Added to the friends I have here, in the fall I joined an email bible study including three women (two I’ve never met in person) who are navigating a lot of the same areas I deal with: ministry, motherhood and faith. There is no pressure to pull off an in depth study each week (we do it when we can) and I am encouraged by the things these women have written.
  10. Partners. The churches, individuals and families who pray for us and support us financially share a big part of our lives and ministry here. Almost every day we have an email asking us what our current prayer requests are, and this is an encouragement that we are not forgotten back in our home country. We are also grateful for those who are sacrificially giving to our ministry so that we can do our work here.

2 Comments to “Confessions of a missionary wife: self pity or gratitude?”

  1. I Love you, Mandy! And I can “hear” your voice in this and know what you must have been feeling. I will especially hold you in my prayers these days…and will pray that God will bring you some really good humor! I’m pretty vacant these days or I’d try to find great words and funny stories. Love you!

    • Hello Lawrie! I think humor IS good medicine, great idea! I might put on a funny show while the twins nap. You are always so good to encourage me, thank you!! 🙂 Love you too.

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