Friday, January 24

Sanity Saver

This month's guest post comes from a missionary mum right here in Dodoma. Naomi Jones and her husband are here serving with SIM (Serving in Mission) Australia and are originally from Melbourne. While Andrew is involved in Entrepreneur Training, Naomi is using her background in Family Psychology in both school and hospital settings. They have four children. Today Naomi shares how to survive the sometimes hard slog of being a missionary and a mum here in Dodoma!

I have lived here in Dodoma, Tanzania with my husband and 4 children for almost eighteen months now.  Amongst the many pieces of helpful information I was given before we came (and again on arrival) was that if we wanted to stay even a little sane while on the mission field, we needed to bring some of our hobbies with us.

It felt like obvious advice at the time; of course we would try to fit into our daily schedules time for leisure/fun/relaxation as we had always done. But on arriving here the truth began to settle. Life in Tanzania can often feel like a “hard slog” and lots of daily tasks are time consuming and tedious. This, combined with the very real and endless needs of the people around us, can sometimes make leisure time and associated activities feel a little too decadent. 

I began by assessing my options. My “sanity saver” of choice has always been exercise; surely a simple activity to pursue in Dodoma I hear you say? Well not exactly! Swimming was ruled out first. The nearest “lap” pool is out of town and too far away to visit in between work and school commitments. The local hotel boasts a gym on it’s website which I was quite excited about until I saw it in the flesh. Not so much as a gym as a room with some old equipment lying around waiting to be repaired. Exercising outdoors is do-able if you don’t mind the (usually unwanted) attention, the uneven surfaces and the inescapable heat factor. Fast losing inspiration, I was spurred on by friends and family at home who reminded me how much enjoyment I used to get from these activities back home. At that point, I mustered up some courage, put aside my inhibitions and made do with what Dodoma had to offer!

I can truly say now, that exercise has acted as a “transition object” for me in the time we have been here. It is something familiar and predictable in a place where not much else is. When life feels overwhelming, I know that I can count on running to give me the usual endorphin rush, or on walking up a mountain to give me the same sense of peace that it always has. I believe that God wants us to engage in the activities that we love and that are “life-giving” while we are here on the mission field, without feeling guilty. Sure, it is a more challenging task at times, and sometimes it may even involve asking others for help with say, childcare, but at the end of the day it is truly worth it!

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