Short term mission trips are fantastic. They open hearts, minds, souls to a hurting world. They allow for word to travel fast, on the needs that are out there. They allow for a taste of something life changing. And I would encourage everyone to go on at least one in their lifetime, to somewhere that makes you uncomfortable.
I went on various mission trips. Outreach trips in the UK with the youth group. To a children’s camp in Budapest, Hungary. To a children’s home in Crimea. To a church in the deep dark depths of West Virginia 😉 I squeezed them in to summer holidays, probably took time off work for one of them too. I pray, because it was my desire, that I showed those children and those people who we came in contact with the love that the Bible talks about. And I think back to those amazing trips of meeting the most incredible children who endured hard times and still walked around smiling and laughing and still able to love. I remember having life-altering experiences on those trips. A deep calling to return to those children, but needing to let go and trust them to God.
So you can understand why I found myself baffled by my lack of teeny bopper passion for my new life, the one I had once cried longingly for.
I can give you one clue.
Children change a lot. I mean having children changes a lot, although I was very young back then. And I promised myself these posts would be all about me so hang tight for a minute. There is no denying that when you hold your first child in your hands for the very first time something catastrophic happens to your entire being. You not only melt into a pool of liquid love, spiraling out of control as you feel those iddy biddy fingers and toes. But the weight of responsibility comes at you like a stampeding herd of elephants. God protects, after the past 8 months I can testify to that. But to those of you getting ready to come out here and join this ship, I’m warning you. You will wanna scream “what kind of idiot brings their kids out here anyways!” every now and then. It’s mainly the times when, solely because of the nature of being a parent, impending doom seems imminent. Your child isn’t the vomiting type but suddenly, for the first time since you arrived in country, she’s vomiting every 5 minutes. Or your 1 year old trips and splits his forehead open and you suddenly realize there isn’t a convenient Urgent Care around the corner. Or after making your malaria stricken child go for a week until you figure out this isn’t just croup. My children will carry many scars with them but all superficial I pray.
See, I have to approach the idea for my own emotional and mental process that may be along the road I got robbed of my cheerleading, high kicking spirit because now my life is not my own. Fact.
But here is the newsflash I remind myself of every day…that shift in role as twenty-something clubgoer morphed in to something so much more substantial and effective….a parent. Granted, a club-goer can definitely be effective if clubs are your mission field…good luck with that one 😉 But I know fear, pain, guilt like I’ve never felt before since becoming a mother. More beautiful than that? I’ve discovered joy, love, satisfaction and contentment over the past 4 years than my 26 years before I became a mother.
That will undoubtedly make me more of a missionary than I currently feel.
Isn’t there so much comfort in having the honour to call God our Father?
Having children isn’t hindering or dampening my missionary spirit like I first thought. It’s enabling me to see the world through parent eyes. Example 1: The men on motorbike taxi’s I risk killing every day but miraculously dodge on the way to Poppy’s school….they are someone’s son, brother, cousin. Or…the little girl I had the privilege of seeing and touching 30 minutes after she had passed away, laying on the dusty ground without a doctor in site to call time of death, covered by a piece of fabric. Connecting in that way is the place where I thank God for giving me my children before I came out here.
So I’m going to channel my inner Hannah Montana…Ooo bad example, and get uber excited about making banana cake for my guard’s wife or shouting “hi five!” (so be it if I’m left hanging) when I give used kids clothes to my househelp (wait for that post too) for her neighbours. I may not be about cold showers and powdered milk but I will ALWAYS be about lovin’ people.