Thursday, August 30


Over the last few weeks I have been emailing backwards and forwards with some 'new friends' ... soon to be good friends and next-door neighbours! They are our Link Family and are already well-established MAF missionaries serving in Dodoma, Thomas and Patricia McKelvey, with a daughter, Grace, who is just 2 months younger than Naomi.

When we got news that they were our Link Family we were both really pleased. Not only had we met them a year or so ago when they made a quick visit to Coshocton ... we shared a short discussion in somebodies garage while waiting for the guest of honour at a surprise party! But Thomas was one of the first MAF Engineers to go through the MMS programme (very useful for Mark) ... and Patricia had her own calling to serve out in Dodoma (like me back in 1999-2001). It was in Dodoma that Thomas and Patricia met! So, a perfect fit for us as a family!

As with all things, like moving your family across the world, it seems that to some extent guys just assume everything will come together, while the women pay attention to the details. So, I have been in touch with Patricia about all kinds of things for both our look-see visit in November and our move there in the New Year. Discussing everything from ATMs and internet, chocolate chips and ziplock bags, to house girls and appropriate clothing ... and all the subjects in between. Today, we chatted on Skype for the first time to save having to type quite so much in emails with all the information flying back and forth ... and I know it was definitely the first of many Skype calls before we get there!

With SO much to think about at this end ... it's really reassuring to know that there is someone who is looking out for our best interests at the other end too, working out the schedule for our visit and sorting out our house for when we move amongst other things! It's been fun to hear just how much Dodoma has changed in the last decade since I lived there too ... for example, it made me laugh to hear that there are now 10 ATM's in town! When I lived there, there was only one that we knew of in Dar Es Salaam, a whole days drive away. Just one of many differences I look forward to discovering myself in only a few months time ... as well as getting to know the McKelvey's a lot more and the other MAF families.

Tuesday, August 28


A few months ago we gave Abigail $1 and later on, we went out to the fair. Halfway through the afternoon a little voice piped up 'I would like to use my money to buy this'. While we'd forgotten that we'd even put it in her pocket, she had been carefully weighing up the options of where she would spend her dollar and carefully handed it to the ladies behind the stall.

It was such big thing for her that day and yet she'd been so conscientious about it. We realised Abigail was growing up fast and was probably ready to start receiving pocket money. Then came the big discussion between me and Mark as to what we would expect from her in order to earn it. She may only be 3 years old (almost 4) but we certainly weren't going to give it to her just to spend, without her beginning to understand the concept of earning it and learning the value of money. Call me old-fashioned!

I did a bit of research on the internet to see what tasks other people thought were reasonable for little people of a similar age to do, while we were working out something for Abigail. It surprised me how many 'chore' charts included life skills like getting dressed, brushing teeth and read for 15 mins amongst other things. I see the importance of these tasks and yes, use them on a checklist of things that need to be completed each day but I didn't agree that they should be classified as chores. They should be part of every child's development not something they are rewarded for doing.

With that in my mind I laminated a plain piece of paper and using a dry-erase pen started to devise the first Beckwith family chore chart! As she's still little, we've started quite basic with daily tasks of making her bed, tidying her toys and laying the table for dinner. Then there is the possibility of helping with the washing, shopping, emptying the bins, cleaning the kitchen floor (a favourite pastime of hers ... see Home Help), and filling up the spare loo roll holder, all whenever these jobs need doing during the week. 

While we don't expect Abigail to do everything on her chart, she's beginning to understand the value of choosing to do or not to do the jobs listed. We have the chart on the fridge and each time she does something, she gets a mini-magnet in the appropriate box or bubble. If the chart is looking a bit sparse on a Saturday morning (payday) she doesn't get all her money and she's slowly getting the hang of it all, as are we! 

Now from time to time, while we're out shopping Abigail will see something she wants and asks us if she can buy it with her pocket money ... and actually thinks to ask us if she has enough money to buy it yet. She has really impressed us with her approach towards her money. From week one of earning it, she saw a hoop in Walmart that she wanted. We went to see how much it cost and then then worked out how many weeks it would take her to earn enough. She was very keen to save the first few weeks money to get it and was really focused towards that goal rather than just spend spend spend the minute Saturday morning came around. In the couple of months that have followed, there has been no change in that mindset ... for which I am both proud and grateful to see!

The chart itself is still a work in progress as we tweak it a little bit here and there, which is why I'm using the dry erase version to start with! Maybe in a few months time I might share the finished thing. I'm aware that this is just our interpretation of what is and isn't good to include as chores, so it may not suit everyone but so far it's worked well in our house!

Friday, August 24

Potluck, Jumble or Mismatch?

You'll have heard of a swarm of bees and a pod of dolphins. You'll have heard of a crowd of onlookers and a panel of judges. You'll have heard of a bunch of keys and a pack of lies. But how would you describe a group of missionaries? Which collective noun would you use? (A hint ... there is nothing that is currently being used, it's time to get creative!!)

In my experience, when you get a group of missionaries together, there always seems to be a slightly higher concentration of eccentric personalities! Maybe it's because you have to be, to up-sticks and move yourself and/or your whole family somewhere new, to embark on a a career path that is a little out-of-the-ordinary from the mainstream. Who knows? When I was in Tanzania before, at All Nations and now here in Ohio, I don't see any change in that pattern!

Another personality trait that is not uncommon to find amongst missionaries (especially those who are least prepared), are those who have gone into mission and moved away to escape something. I have first hand experience of seeing more than one person start out strong but then realise that wherever they are, they still have to work through whatever situation it was they thought they could avoid ... and then fall apart to some extent. I can't stress the importance of getting everything in order and taking the time to be fully prepared before you commit to mission work.

There are also those who fall somewhere along the 'normal' continuum too! I hope I fall into that category but how far along the line, I guess will be dependent on your own opinions of me and what I'm doing!!! 

With all that in mind I was trying to come up with a collective noun to describe missionaries. Like the group photo from our wedding below, all the them have been, are, or plan to be involved in mission work at some point ... but what are we called as a group? I thought maybe a 'potluck', a 'jumble' or a 'mismatch' of missionaries sounded about right! (For alliteration purposes, I'm leaning towards the last option!)

One famous missionary, Jim Elliot, once said "Missionaries are very human folks just doing what they're asked. Simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody". I'm thankful that whatever we're called and whatever our personalities, as long as we're willing, God can use us, wherever we are and whatever we're doing!

Let me know what you think. Do you have any other interesting alternatives for a group missionaries? In the meantime, in writing this I have discovered some new & very random collective nouns (& variations) for myself ... an ostentation of peacocks, a smack of jellyfish, a murder of crows, a parcel of hogs, a blessing of unicorns, an ambush of tigers, to name just a few! Here's my new favourite, a mission of monkeys ... that will come as no surprise to those who know me well!

Wednesday, August 22

New Friends

Last weekend we enjoyed a short family break to visit some good friends in Toronto, Canada. Both families grew by one member last spring, Naomi and Grace are just over a month apart in age and we were able to meet and introduce the newest additions, as well as catch up on everything else.

It's interesting to watch 'little people' and see the similarities and differences. Over the weekend we saw that one of them was a better walker, the other a better talker ... but those things will even themselves out over the next few months and next time we meet we'll probably notice personality rather than ability differences. Isn't it amazing how each one of us is a totally different person, right from day one?!

Naomi fell asleep within minutes of leaving their house, as we started the long journey home, on Sunday morning and Abigail was quick to make a diagnosis as to why. According to her, Naomi was asleep because she was sad ... 'Cos she had to say good bye to her new friend'. It never ceases to amaze me just how sweet and sensitive she can be and how more and more, as she gets older, the world doesn't have to totally revolve around her but she is aware that other people have feelings too.

Abigail has been talking lots about new friends recently. Both to refer to new people we have met here in the States but also to those we're going to meet in 'Africa'. We've just been trying to drop it into conversation bit by bit so that she can be as prepared as possible ... on the road to our transition that we've already started. She's really excited to see her new school in Tanzania and to meet her new friends but I was just really touched that she also realised her little sister would need friends too ... something that as she's so much younger her parents may have overlooked slightly! Oops!

Happy Anniversary!

Was yesterday's blog post missing? Yes and No!! Today marks exactly one year since my first post as 'The Missionary Mum', with Who Am I?. So, I thought I'd delay a day, to write on the first anniversary of my blogging adventure! One year, over 150 posts later and with readers from 10 different countries, I'm still going!

Some people have asked me why I 'waste my time' writing this when I could be doing other things. Others have written and thanked me for recipes or words of encouragement that I have written at exactly the right time in their lives ... or just for keeping them up-to-date with what's going on in our lives as a family from a slightly different point of view than the Beckwith's Big Adventure family blog does! 

Thank you to those who enjoy it and for those of you I have got to know a little bit more in the process of writing it! Thank you to those of you who have become and remained supporters of us as a family in mission, as a direct result of the blogging! Thank you for letting me have a little outlet, when sometimes days as a stay-at-home mum can be a little dull and mundane ... yes, even for missionaries!!

I have also realised over this last year, that I have many friends who are missionary mum's too. They are literally based all over the world, some blog and some don't. I thought it would be nice to have a guest spot once a month  ... for some of them to input either something fun, yummy, inspiring, helpful (the list goes on!) about their stories of life as a missionary mum too. 

So, watch this space for a little more variety in the months to come and let me know if there's anything else you want to read!

Saturday, August 18

Home Grown

One thing we've had lots of fun doing while we've been living in the States is having a small garden. 'Garden' in the American sense of the word, what us Brits would call a 'veggie patch'. 

While none of us profess to have very green fingers or thumbs (depends which side of the pond you live on as to which digits you use apparently!), we thought we'd give it a go. There is only a small strip in our back yard that we could actually cultivate but from the first summer we lived in the States, we cleared it and experimented. It's been so much fun for all members of the family too.

We've only planted four or five things each year but have enjoyed small crops of peas, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, basil, peppers, carrots, spinach and onions. A packet of seeds costs nothing, which has meant we've managed to save a little on the grocery bills too, last Autumn we didn't have to buy carrots til Christmas time!! Below was this years first crop of peppers ... and there are plenty more ready and waiting to be picked, perfect for our crock-pot stuffed pepper recipe.

We have been enjoying the home grown food and also eating less pre-packaged stuff filled with preservatives. I'm sorry to say it but in the States, food we've bought has lasted a ridiculously long time after opening ... unhealthily, preservative filled, lengths of time! 

Knowing that some simple things will be less easy to come by once we're in Tanzania, I've been perfecting a few basic recipes for us to enjoy, like a homemade tomato sauce I found in a book from the library, which is a much better, fresher and yummier alternative to any pasta sauces we've found here. It's great with pasta, as a dipping sauce for our pizza homemade pizza rolls, or as a base for other sauces (in lasagne's or bolognese's) and freezes really well. You can alter the taste and make it sweeter by caramelising the onions a little at the start if you have the time but you can also use the 'chuck-it-all-in' method in too!

1 large carrot
2 ribs celery
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup/120ml extra virgin olive oil
2x 28oz/794g cans diced tomatos
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (if necessary)

1. Chop the carrot, celery, onion and garlic
2. Heat the oil and add the chopped veggies til soft
3. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar (to taste)
4. Bring to the boil and simmer for ??? ... it depends how long I have!
5. Let it cool, then blend in batches 
6. Mix it altogether and re-heat/freeze as required

Thursday, August 16

Soccer Mom Syndrome

Today I was really proud of Abigail ... she completed and passed her Level 2 swimming class, having done Level 1 earlier in the summer. Katie, her teacher is one of her favourite people right now and we couldn't have wished for a better person to work with her in the pool!

Abigail has absolutely loved being in the water and her confidence and ability has improved by leaps and bounds. She told me today, 'Swimming is my favourite thing', when I asked her which part, she replied 'All of it'!!!! Mark was there for the first lesson of Level 1 and the last lesson of Level 2 and was really surprised at just how much she has progressed. 

While she has been busy with Katie, I have had a chance to get Naomi much more used to the fun of being at the pool. At the beginning she wasn't even a fan of sitting on the edge and now she quite happily hangs out in the deep water, splashing around and being as silly as the rest of us!

I wouldn't have changed all the trips to the pool for anything this summer as we've had lots of fun, whether it's been just us three girlies or with Nana or Mark coming with us. There have however been days when I've wished that  we didn't have to pack up all the swimming gear, snacks, toys etc again and then drive to the next town for the lessons.

I guess, although a bit prematurely, I've had a little taster of what being a 'soccer mom' would be like. Traipsing from one kids commitment to another, playdates, sports practices, music lessons ... the list goes on. While, I'm not likely to get the true soccer mom experience, as where we're moving to there is unlikely to be too many options of things available, I was able to get a very small glimpse this summer!

Tuesday, August 14

Worldly Goods

As I've mentioned before, one of the sacrifices of the missionary lifestyle is living on a much reduced budget. It totally goes against the grain of what the world is telling us ... 'Bigger, Better, More' ... including the pay-packet. Knowing that our money is coming from supporters too has also been a big factor for us, as we feel we need to be a lot more responsible with it as well.

We have learnt to have a totally different perspective when it comes to money and 'things' since we got married and especially in the last four years. Knowing that we would be following the missionary path and that we didn't want to accumulate too many 'worldly goods' that we would have to ship all around the world with us when we got married,we did something different. We broke down a dream honeymoon in the Maldives into small chunks and asked guests to give us money towards different elements, including upgrades to a watervilla, spa treatments and scuba-diving as well as 'airmiles' towards the flights etc. 

It was an amazing 10 days and something we would never have been able to have arranged or afforded ourselves! When we returned however we found that our car had been broken into and some items had been stolen. Not exactly how you picture ending your honeymoon ... but it has helped shape the importance that we place on our possessions right from the start of our marriage.

We often find ourselves looking longingly at items in shops and magazines and saying 'If we weren't doing what we're doing ...'! But do you know what, even though lots of our possessions are borrowed/secondhand/second choice we feel a freedom from accumulating things and what we have doesn't have as much importance in our lives. Basically we're living a much more contented lifestyle than we thought possible which was a totally unexpected bonus.

Since living in the States, we've also learned ways to save little extra bits here and there. In the UK, you can get the odd voucher from time to time to save money on your weekly groceries. In the USA, the equivalent 'coupons' are everywhere. Some people take coupon-ing so seriously that they can spend $1,000+ in a food store and literally come away having spent less than $10. It really is an artform of it's own and takes hours of preparation and organisation ... and way too extreme for me.

In the Sunday papers each week there are booklets literally full of coupons, see below. It was a trick we didn't learn until we'd lived in the States for at least a year (a tip to anyone welcoming new people to a new country ... fill them in on information like this, especially if you know they're on a tight budget! It may be obvious to you but it's probably not to them). 

Since we discovered this, we have bought the papers on the way home from church most weeks. While we haven't changed our shopping habits to suit the coupons, we have found that we've saved $5-$10 a week on groceries on the stuff we would be buying anyway. While it may not sound like too much, when it adds up to $300-$500 a year, for little effort, it's definitely been worth it. 

It has also meant a little bit of extra spending money for us ... so from time to time when we do see a couple of things we might like to buy we have been able to do just that. Definitely a win-win situation for us!

Saturday, August 11

Blink of an Eye

When we signed up with MAF, we knew that one requirement for us as a family, would be to complete the MMS programme. This meant approximately three more years of training. Having just had two years at All Nations, it seemed like another long stint of preparation time rather than being out 'doing mission'.

Before Mark could qualify as an aircraft maintenance engineer, he would have to complete 4,800 hours in the hangar and then take 3 written tests, one oral and one practical. We still felt this was the right route for us as a family, even with three years in the States. In fact, the majority of the planes Mark has been training on have been mission aircraft, now being used all over the world ... so in reality, he (along with the other guys in the hangar) have had a much farther reaching impact in the world of mission aircraft here at MMS, than he will once we're based in one place with MAF!

Well, guess what? Today, those 4,800 hours are complete ... what a big milestone in our family! In some respects they have flown by in the blink of an eye but so much has happened in the meantime. Including two trips back to the UK, Marks rapid response to PNG and ours as a family to Florida ... as well as gaining an additional member of the family last Easter when Naomi was born here in the States, to name just a few.

4pm today ... 4,800 hours done!

Having met at All Nations, we have always felt that our mission journey has been a joint venture, rather than me following Mark fulfil his calling. I know that when we moved here, Mark felt very responsible to make it work because we had moved for 'his' training but while he's been learning in the hangar, the girls at home have been learning lots too.

This next month or two will include Mark's exams and may feel a little more stressful than normal. I know that the weight of responsibility will weigh heavily on him once again as he takes each part of his examinations but I'm so proud of him and all he has achieved in his 4,800 hours in the hangar. I know that a lot of what he didn't know at the beginning will just be second nature to him now and it will be a lot more straight forward than he is expecting!

Our next phase of transition officially starts now!

Wednesday, August 8

Colouring Fun

Yesterday afternoon, I was setting Abigail up with her crafty bits and pieces on the table for some creative fun when a little face looked up at me longingly. It occurred to me that without realising it, Naomi is growing up fast and could probably be set up at the table herself! 

So as soon as Abigail was settled I got some paper and crayons out for Naomi too, who has done the odd bit of scribbling before but I've never given her this kind of opportunity. What followed was lots of giggles and excitement from a very happy little girl! Each time she coloured she kept wiggling and giggling ... just like when she's dancing, which was hilarious.

Both girls enjoyed smiling at each other across the table, while they were 'busy', working hard at their creations. I remember when Abigail was about the same age, she would colour and colour the same piece of paper over and over so it was full of scribbles of all different colours. Naomi on the other hand seems to currently prefer a more minimalist approach ... just two or three colours before asking for a new sheet of paper!! It's fun to notice differences so early on!

We have a pile of printed paper from the hangar that was just going to be thrown away which the girls use the back of, so Naomi was welcome to be as picky as she wanted to be! It's been a great way of saving money and recycling too. It definitely works for us, especially now Naomi is beginning her artistic career!! In time, I'll pick a few of the best 'pieces of artwork' and scan them, so we can keep some of her first creations without having to carry lots of extra stuff when we pack up and move from the States.

It was a slightly strange feeling seeing both my girls at the table enjoying the chance to get creative. Suddenly Naomi seemed so grown up and no longer like a baby! I know that it is inevitable but it was one of those realisation moments that my girlies are growing up fast! I was especially pleased that on only one occasion, over the space of about 20 minutes, did she attempt to eat her crayon though as that had been my one concern. As it went so well, I'm guessing it will become a much more common occurrence in our household from now on!

Tuesday, August 7

Amish Country

We live just 20 minutes drive from Amish Country. It's like taking a step out of reality to beautiful countryside and a 'simpler' way of living. We joke that moving to America has immersed us in a different culture ... but the Amish way of life is another experience altogether and we live so close to the largest Amish population in the USA.

There have been a few documentaries recently, both in the UK and the States, covering the Amish lifestyle and introducing Amish people to 'western' living. It is not uncommon for us to see some of the Amish community in Walmart while we do our grocery shopping or see their horse and buggy's driving round town. But if you take a short drive north you are surrounded by their homesteads, shops, fields and ways of cultivating them, animals etc ... and it is a little bit like stepping back in time.

In some respects it makes me laugh that we talk about them living a 'simpler' life. No technology, electricity, working the earth. If you think about it, if anything, we use technology to make life easier. So while it could be described as simpler ... it would definitely be a lot harder work on many levels too. In some ways it also reminds me of how many of my friends live in Africa as well.

We have had the opportunity to get to know some Amish folk and have had the privilege of sharing a meal in their home on a few different occasions. We did it when we first arrived here, about halfway through our time and just last week while my mum was visiting. It has been a lovely experience to build a relationship with them a little bit, learn about the cultural differences (of which they are really interested in how the English customs differ) and we will keep in touch, as these new friends have asked to receive all our updates after we leave America too.

This last visit they gave us a small pocket recipe book with some Amish recipes in it ... their food is delicious! The quantities are always quite large, so this weekend we tried the Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad out, at a pot luck dinner we went to and lets just say, there was hardly anything left in the bowl to bring home! It was really easy and really yummy! I have never eaten so much raw broccoli and cauliflower in my life as I have since living in Ohio, this is one recipe that rocks the raw stuff though!

  • Salad
  • 1 bundle of broccoli - cut v small
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 6-12 fried and crumbled strips of bacon
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower - cut v small
  • 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
  • Sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
1. Prepare and mix salad
2. Prepare and mix sauce
3. Mix altogether
4. Chill before serving

Friday, August 3

I Miss Nana

Yesterday afternoon, we dropped my mum at the airport after a couple of weeks of fun and silliness together. VBS, trips to the pool, visiting Amish country, meals out, playing in the back garden/yard and so much more.

As we drove away, waving from the airport, just as the window closed and mum went out of sight, Abigail piped up 'I miss Nana'. A couple of hours later, on the journey home a little voice called out once again 'I miss my Nana'. It was one of those bittersweet moments of being a missionary. So gorgeous that she feels that way and had lots of fun with Nana but so sad that because of our choice to work overseas our children and parents only get a few weeks concentrated time together each year, rather than the year round regular visits they would have enjoyed, if we lived back in the UK.

I know both sets of parents have to spend the first few days of their visits readjusting to the stage that each girl is at, what they're into, the routines in the family and other things like that which would have been second nature if they saw them more often. It can be a little frustrating for everyone. This visit, my mum commented on how much both girls had changed since she last got to spend time with them. Naomi is no longer a baby and Abigail is now more of a young lady than a little girl.

It highlights to both me and Mark, just how much of the girls childhoods our parents are missing out on and I'm sure to our parents too. It is heartbreaking to know that we are the cause of that but at the same time, we're so lucky that our parents are supportive of what we're doing and are both happy and able to travel to see us and the girls so regularly.

It is definitely one of the sacrifices of the missionary lifestyle. We know many others who have also chosen to move overseas from their home countries for different reasons and are making the same sacrifices. Everyone has their own ways of working it out but it doesn't always make it any easier.

Thursday, August 2

Christmas is Coming

Really?!! ... Really?!! Christmas is always coming, from December 26th, the day after Christmas, there is always another one on it's way. It's just a lot further away! Imagine my surprise on July 10th, when a friend helpfully posted on Facebook that Christmas was just 24 weeks away!

I don't know about you but 24 weeks sounds a lot less than 5 months! The realisation then dawned on me that within the following 24 weeks our whole lives would be completely turned upside down. By Christmas, Mark will have finished at MMS Aviation, we will have packed up our lives here in the States and shipped all our belongings off, said goodbyes to all our friends out here ... and be temporarily homeless and back in the UK to celebrate Christmas with family, before moving to Tanzania in early 2013.

Suddenly 24 weeks seemed like no time at all and thoroughly overwhelming. When I was thinking about a typical week and how much I do and don't get achieved, I realised I'd better get a head start on it all. Now of course we are already a few more weeks down the line ... and no, I couldn't tell you what the countdown is today, I'm avoiding working it out for the time being.

Earlier this week we were doing a little bit of holiday gift shopping with my mum before she heads back to the UK. In one store in Roscoe Village, there is already a whole display of Christmas cards on sale and although as I write this it's August (just), consider that we were in that shop in July. 

Is it really necessary to be selling Christmas cards in July? Apparently so!!! I think that's the earliest I've ever seen something in a store. To me, it is totally wrong but there you go, such is life. As a family we love to celebrate Christmas and while this year is going to be very different for us, I don't think I'll waste too much brainpower thinking about it ... for the time being at least!

(One little confession to add to this though. I did wrap 3 Christmas presents this afternoon to send home with my mum when she travels back to the UK tomorrow ... so we don't have take extra baggage with us when we head to England for Christmas! Oops!)