This month's guest post is from another missionary mum and MAF wife, Sarah Newnham, living in East Africa (like me!), but this time in Kampala, Uganda. Sarah and her husband, also Mark, went through the MMS programme in Ohio just like we did and have already completed the required 8 years service with MAF following that. I'm pleased to say they have chosen to continue their service with MAF. We had the chance to meet them/hang out with them/pick their brains (!!) with their eldest 2 children a few years ago when they revisited the MMS programme. Today she shares some thoughts living on the mission field both as a child herself and as a mother. You can read their family blog here.
I am a Missionary Mum but I am also an MK (missionary kid). I think we are often misunderstood and no one fully understands where we are coming from, except other MK’s. One thing that can usually be said about us is that we grow up with transition and the feeling that no one place is quite ‘home’. At the age of 22, I had lived in around 30 houses.
So in 2000, just a year after getting married, when Mark & I began our journey into missions I think I envisaged that life would continue to be one of transitions. That was OK. I enjoyed going to new places, meeting new people and travelling and after all, the other name for MAF is ‘Move Again Friend’!
We lived in Ohio, USA for three years while Mark trained as an aircraft engineer and we then began serving with MAF in Uganda in 2005. I really thought that after a few years we would be moving on to a new location, but here we are eight years later, still living in Uganda.
Why? The simple answer is that this is where God wants us to be and we don’t yet feel he is asking us to move. However, there are several reasons and this lack of transition has not always been easy for me to deal with. I am an MK/third culture kid after all … moving is what I am good at. The thought of moving home, particularly to another country, may fill most of you with fear and anxiety but I find it quite exciting.
Several years ago, we were offered the opportunity to move. I would have loved to go, as the post on offer would have taken us to the country where my parents were serving as missionaries. How wonderful it would be to live near my mum and dad but Mark was not ready for all the new role would entail. How I willed it to be different and yet, deep down I knew I had to accept what was best for Mark. He needed to gain more experience here in Uganda.
One of the best things that has come out of living in Uganda is that this is where two of our children come from. Mark & I were unable to have our own children and God blessed us with two amazing children that we have adopted here. Amy & Joshua are now 7 and 6 years old. Just last year we had a biological child, Abigail. They are each miracles in their own way but that is another whole story in itself!
While I cope well with transition, we have one child in particular who does not. I may struggle to think of anywhere as ‘home’ but this is most definitely ‘home’ for Amy & Joshua. Uganda is the country they come from, the only place they have ever lived and it has become clear to us how important it is for them in building their identity that they know something of this beautiful country and culture for themselves. They are one of the reasons we have not moved on.
There are times that it seems like a sacrifice for me to stay in one place but I realise that God is doing it for a couple of reasons ...
It is the best thing for my whole family right now. As a mum, I want what is best for my children and right now that is stability. God wants what is best for us and a happy/well adjusted family will last far longer on the mission field.
It is the best thing for me. I have realised that it is tough staying in one place. It is simply easier for me to be the one who moves on to new places and challenges but staying put and being the one left behind is hard for me. I have had to say many good byes to close friends and colleagues this year. I still grieve at times but God wants me to grow in this area of trusting him when I am the one left behind. The experience is drawing me closer to the One who remains the same and is always there, Jesus, and I am thankful for this season of my life in which God is teaching me to make transitions, in terms of building new friendships and finding new things to do even when I am still in the same location.