You know you’re a missionary if…

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Ever since we pulled out the Christmas stuff, I’ve been grumpy, homesick and sad. I miss Hannah and I really don’t want to celebrate Christmas without her. She gets to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with Jesus Himself! It would be nice if I could go up to heaven just for a day to join that birthday party. I would come right back to earth to finish the work God has given me here. I just want one more moment with her, one more smile to savor…

But the reality is that one moment wouldn’t be enough. I’d soon want another…and another…and another…until the day comes when I do join her in eternity. It makes me wonder what Christmas is like in heaven. Is it like any other day? Is every day like Christmas? Or do we get to eat birthday cake on the birthday of Christ? Do we give each other presents? Do I get to celebrate my birthday in heaven? Hmmm…So much to ponder.

Anyway, in an effort to laugh – and choose JOY – I’ve decided to write this post to poke fun at all the little things I miss from the States and some of the small stuff that is annoying me here. I mean, I totally expected to miss my family, our traditions, my friends, and Target. But some things that I miss are really random and unexpected. Other issues that I’m facing are so trivial but seem quite large in light of everything going on in my head and heart. So here it is. My list of missionary funnies.

You know you’re a missionary if…

1. you miss Dawn dish soap. I loathe washing dishes, but at least they were clean after I washed them in the States. I put everything possible in the dishwasher. I’d arrange and re-arrange the contents so that I could maximize what went into it before I ran it. But I don’t miss my dishwasher. Instead I miss dish soap…And here is why: During the week, my helpers wash my dishes and Aaron usually helps me on the weekends. Regardless of who’s washing the dishes, I do miss good, grease-cutting dish soap. Soap that gets dishes sparkling clean…the first time.

2. you miss Lowes. Of course I miss Target and Ann Taylor Loft and Gymboree! Who would have guessed that I would miss Lowes? I miss it because my apartment could use some TLC. Aaron and I actually have time to do little projects around the house, but we rarely have the right supplies. A quick trip to Lowes could fix that problem, and I’d be loving DIY home improvement. (I might have to wander around Lowes instead of the mall when I get home!)

3. you need a spa day like never before! I’m really not high maintenance when it comes to hair and nails. I rarely get pedicures…or haircuts for that matter. However, my feet are unrecognizable! Really dreadful. My hair could use a trim too. (Maybe a spa should be my first stop in the States. I don’t want to look too rough going into Lowes!)

4. you can leave your kids at home while you buy produce from the local farmer’s market. Seriously. Even if my helpers aren’t home, I can walk up the hill, still see my house, and buy tomatoes, cabbage, green peppers, red onions, etc. The best part is that I never spend more than $5!

5. you can tell someone is being attacked by pincher ants by the scream. True story. Just happened the other day…and it wasn’t even my kid!

6. you de-worm your kids every 6 months.

7. you’re always wondering if the “stomach bug” is caused by a virus or an actual bug (or worm).

8. you feel scandalous if you wear jeans during the week. I just did this last week. I was feeling especially homesick, so I thought wearing a ‘normal’ outfit might help…at least it couldn’t hurt. For whatever reason, wearing jeans did make me feel more like myself, but I don’t think the neighbors or helpers really liked it. I wore skirts the rest of the week.

9. you miss processed foods. I had eliminated almost all processed foods from our diet. I made as much as possible from scratch. I loved doing it, so I’m pretty sure this is completely psychological. I miss boxes of mac and cheese and frozen pizzas and oreos and a large variety of junk food! It’s because everything has to be from scratch here in rural Kenya and I can’t get all those indulgences I made oh so infrequently. (I’m anticipating a good 10+ pound weight gain when I’m back in the States…I haven’t even mentioned all the restaurants we’re missing!)

10. your idea of recycling does not include a bin you set by the curb on trash day. Here, everything is reused. My current method of recycling is cleaning every single plastic or glass container that comes from Nairobi (or was brought from home). The squirty jelly container has become my ranch dressing dispenser. The tomato sauce jars are used as homemade salsa containers. Cans can house seedlings. We even wash Ziploc bags so that we can reuse them!

So there you have it. A top 10 list of the current ‘issues’ I’m having as a new missionary. I realize that these are first world problems. I realize I wouldn’t have this frame of reference if I didn’t lead such a plush life in the States. I also recognize that I can solve a lot of these problems by focusing on the blessings. Noah, when he heard of all the snow PA has gotten, said, “Mom, I really miss the snow. It would be nice if it snowed in Kenya, but I’m glad I get to play outside everyday here. I didn’t like being in the house so much in Pennsylvania.” He’s absolutely right. I miss the snow too, but I don’t miss the psychosis that winter causes in my children. I love that my little balls of energy can explode outside everyday. I love that this is becoming a home to me. I love so much about Tenwek. Yes, there are things that are difficult, but life isn’t supposed to be easy. Life is real. Life is messy. Life is good…as long as you are following the only God that is good.

Praises and Prayer Requests:

1. Praise God for children who so often teach us important truths.

2. Praise God for this advent season when we can really focus on Christ.

3. Praise God for great friends from both my earthly homes.

4. Please pray for the orphan ministry. We are celebrating with one of the orphanages on the 26th. I am in charge of the party. Please pray that I will know how to share the true meaning of Christmas with the children and that Christ will be honored and glorified in all we do. If you’d like to donate to the orphan fund, please do so at the WorldGospelMission site.

5. Please pray for us as we anticipate December 14, 9 months since Hannah’s homegoing.

I Peter 1: 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

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2 responses »

  1. Hello my name is Crystal and I just moved to the UK from Washington, DC. I found your blog before we moved but admist the move and all the craziness that, that brings I lost your blog. The last time I read your blog was when I think your husband wrote about the passing of your daughter to be with Jesus. My heart and prayers go to your and your family. Your baby girl is a beauty and I know she is dancing with her daddy in heaven. After reading this blog post I would really love to send you a care package, is there an address I can send one to? Its our heart to give especially during the holidays when being away from family is the hardest. Our pastors are missionaries and we talk to them all the time about being away from home as they can relate. Anyway would love to support you and your family and send a little love.

    God Bless,

    Crystal Russell

  2. Hi, I love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I’m a disaster relief nurse with Samaritan’s Purse (just got home from a month in the Philippines) (so, we are in the same “family” so to speak). Anyway, I’ve followed your blog and journey and grief. I’m so very sorry. I’ve prayed for your family countless times.

    I wanted to share how I understand your feelings about missing things from home. I was only in the Philippines a month (compared to your long-term in Kenya). But wow, did I miss stuff. I really missed ice-cold drinks. I felt so scuzzy 24/7 (disaster situations do that) and had to do bucket baths. I felt so un-lady like. The first thing I did once I hit Seoul on my way home was buy girlie products at duty free shopping. 🙂 And sprayed expensive perfume all over myself. 🙂 I couldn’t wait to get a burger and fries somewhere (Chicago). I hope you treat yourself to some spa treatments once you get back to the states. It really does a girl good. 🙂

    God bless you.
    Kelly

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