I am going to share an article with you here that was published in their August 2009 issue. It was written by Rita Vernoy (whom I have never met). The article mentioned a lot of things that I want to start addressing in my "Missionary Monday" posts, and I felt like it summed up a lot of my random thoughts. Enjoy!
"Thoughts for Missionary Wives" by Rita Vernoy (The Vernoys are veteran missionaries who served in Venezuela for 20 years until they were expelled by the dictator Hugo Chavez. They now serve in Paraguay.)
I am often asked what a typical day is like living on the mission field. It is a very hard question to answer. You must understand that every circumstance is different. The missionary's schedule will be dictated by the culture in which he works, the level of his language skills, the ministry role in which he has been placed, and even the missionary's personality. Our days in the jungle were completely different than our days in Paraguay. Both were full of ministry, but ministering to our flock was different in each country. For instance, we do not do any medical work in Paraguay, nor do we need to do translation work. Right now we are still discovering where we might serve best and where our particular skills are most needed.
A common misconception some people hold is in regard to what the role of the missionary wife should be. Wives on the mission field do indeed serve in various capacities, but their ministries will be different, depending on several factors including, but not limited to:
* How many chldren are in the home?
* Are there small children in the home?
* Do the children need to be homeschooled?
* What are the living conditions? Does she need to carry water, cook with firewood, or wash the laundry by hand? These tasks all require extra time.
* What help does her husband require of her?
A wife's ministry will be ever changing as the dynamics of her home change. My job is to be the wife my husband needs, finish rearing our children yet at home (including homeschooling them), and if my husband needs me to serve in a ministry capacity, I do that as well.
In my case, I am a woman married to a missionary. Being a missionary is not my real job! I do not get paid to be a missionary, nor do I punch a time clock. I am a stay-at-home wife and mother, and I happen to live on the mission field. As a child of God, I do feel required to take part in Christian service as is every other Christian wherever they may live. I have the privilege of enjoying my life as the wife of a missionary, and I also feel fulfilled in my role as wife and mother. Serving my Lord on the mission field is just the icing on the cake!
I would like to be able to instruct younger missionary wives as to the role which they play on the field. Every woman is different and married to a different man. Every ministry will ask different things of different people, but the missionary wife must never feel guilty for putting her time and energy first into her family. Some families are able to find adequate education for their children on the field, and I am not assuming to know what may be best for another family. Even if your children are enrolled in a school, your job as a wife and mother will still require much time. Some women even need to have outside interests, and ministry may fulfill this need, but in balance. This time away from the home duties may allow her to come back refreshed.
The work of a homemaker seems to always be more time-consuming in third-world countries. We do not have the option of packaged foods or fast foods. We do not have central air and heat to keep the dust out of our homes. We sometimes lack time-saving appliances commonly found in the American home. Our electricity and water go out often, which requires more work. Buying groceries and other supplies takes much more time as we do not have the convenience of one-stop shopping. Even paying bills takes a long time. We cannot do it online or even mail in a check; we have to go stand in several lines to pay each one. Of course, that is after standing in line at the bank to change our money in order to pay the bills - all the while watching our backs to make sure we will not be robbed as we leave the bank.
How many times have I seen women on the mission field break under the pressure they feel to perform more than they are capable of! This often leads to depression and even leaving the mission field. Perhaps, if the missionary wife would relax a bit and give herself the opportunity to be "just another woman," this would not happen so often. Remember, dear wife, you are under extra stress just dealing with life in a new culture and language. To the younger wives, I would remind you that your children will grow up, and you will have more time available for ministry then. Never forget your people are observing you, and the best testimony is for you to show them a Christian woman who is at peace and content.