While very few missionary wife books exist, the ones I got my hands on all recommended having a helper. Strong suggestions for help come from some good missionary wife and mother blogs and websites which also include comical details of the trials that will no doubt occur when hiring a local and expecting her to know American ways of cleaning and washing.We've laughed off (and, at times, cried about) various incidents we've had over the past few years with what has turned out to be a long line of helpers. In all honesty, I have been thankful for these women who have served our family. These sweet ladies cleaning and cooking meals while Chris and I struggled through language study, culture shock, and helping our kids through the transition of moving has, in most ways, been a reason we've been able to survive.
|One of Our Sweet Helpers|
The answer came during our Hungry Ghost holiday season this year. Our helper, like most Cambodians, headed out to the countryside to be with family for a week, and we were left to fend for ourselves. I shuddered as I considered a week without her. The missionary lifestyle just takes more time: Shopping for food at many locations only to have to change your meal plan because none of those places has any flour, more mold and mildew in our household than inhabits the entirety of the North American continent, dusting jobs that seem so large it is often hard not to burst into tears as you take out a can of Pledge and a grab several handfulls of rags. The list goes on and on, and I grew more discourage as I thought of our holiday "break."
What ensued during that week brought with it the realization that our home had gained not only a calm peacefulness, but our motivation, energy, and level of satisfaction reached heights we never dreamed possible! Chris and I bonded over household work in the early mornings and the evenings, feeling a delicious sense of ownership and empowerment. After work, Chris would come home and could see the hard work I had put into the day, encouraging me and thanking me - then picking up a broom or rag to help with something I had been unable to get to (I'll take a moment to say that I DO realize I have and extraordinarily wonderful husband).
|Wonderful Chris Helping in Our First Home|
What, we wondered, had brought about this drastic change? The only answer was our helper's absence.
Then it hit me like a lightening bolt. Like many moms, I had struggled with not seeing the results of my parenting day in and day out. It is hard to keep eternal perspective as we raise our precious ones. It seems, however, that God in His gracious wisdom has provided a way we can see results every day to keep us motivated and encouraged. It comes in a very unattractive package and is often resented and stressed over: Housework!
In having a helper, I had robbed myself of the satisfaction of daily results. Who would have thought?! Now, as I am doing dishes and laundry in between child-rearing and child-enjoying, I have the blessing of seeing results in my day to day life. When I feel discouraged that this child or that still has rebellion in this or that part of his or her heart, I keep encouraging and correcting them, sharing God's grace with them, then go wipe the counter clean and marvel how it could have been so filthy 30 seconds before.
I guess cleaning is a bit like training a child. By trusting God for His help and His strength, we keep obeying and trying. Before we know it, that child or that counter is pure and clean because of God working through us.
I'm so glad that I need not rob myself of this joy, neither the joy of raising my children nor the joy of being in charge of my own home. I think I'll go wash some dishes!
Please Note: I am NOT saying it is wrong to have a helper! I believe God fashions and form our families to function in many different ways.