By Joy Maschhoff
What’s it like being a mommy missionary in the Dominican Republic? In many ways, it reminds me of the picture above. Our daughter Noelle is eagerly but apprehensively climbing an inflatable wall on our street during an event last fall.
So much of life in a different cultural setting feels like a climb. When it comes to the language, I sometimes feel like I am hanging on by the tips of my fingers and my toes. What used to feel comfortable and familiar verbally, like sharing the gospel, my testimony, or a funny story from last weekend, now feels like a stretch in Spanish.
Recently, I brought my daughter to a new after-school activity. She and I endured stares and curious looks as she was whisked off to a room with no air-conditioning (it was 98 degrees) and filled with children who looked and spoke differently. She emerged 2 hours later alive, sweaty, and saying “it was ok”. She is so brave. We both drove home teary-eyed, exhausted, but hopeful it might be something that brings her life down the road. Another stretch, another foothold.
I went grocery shopping on another day. No pepperoni this week. No cocoa powder for the birthday cake I was hoping to make. The young man helping me with my bags kept giggling and winking at his friends about helping “la rubia” (white woman)…stretch, strain, just keep going. It usually takes 5 minutes to get home. This time in traffic it took 20; I had to swerve 3 times to keep from being hit. Fall down a few foot holes, stretch, strain, get back up.
It is a climb; it is stretching; it can be exhausting, and I can often feel alone on the wall. But I love this picture because it shows two tender mercies. Tender mercies I rejoice in daily:
First, the wall is inflatable. It’s soft; it offers mercy in the midst of exertion. As Noelle reaches or slips, she bumps into the soft wall and remembers, ahhh…this is kinda fun. So too, I have found that God, in His faithfulness, always provides these mercies in the midst. My children began school again recently, and as we entered the courtyard on the first day…stretch, reach…they were greeted with squeals of joy and hugs from their friends…bump ahhh. While walking home another day, I ran into a young woman from the group of girls I have been doing Bible study with. As one of them ran into my arms, she exclaimed, “Joy, when will we start again? I can’t wait to go to your house. Will we read the Bible again?” …bump, ahhh. I went to the grocery store today. They had La Criox…bump ahhhh!!!!
Second, I look at that picture, and I see the harness and belay line. My daughter is securely attached to someone who is assisting her climb and protecting her from a fall. This is the key. The wall could be 100 miles high, with thousands of reaches, stretches, and new footholds. The wall could be hard and not soft. And she would still make it. She would be safe. She would be protected. She could stop, rest, reflect, look around, and not fall. She could lose footing and recover.
I’ve learned that the only way to thrive in this unfamiliar context is to remember my harness and Who holds my line. For me, my harness is my time with God, spent in His Word and in prayer. As a child of God, it’s always there, always at the ready, it never goes away. When I set aside the time to read, study, examine, meditate on the scriptures, and be on my knees before the Lord, I remember it’s there. I feel my harness, and most importantly, I get to know and understand and trust more deeply the One who holds my line. The One who leads the way. The Kings of kings. The Holy One. The Lover of my Soul. When I live in the reality that He’s holding my line, that He’s leading and assisting my climb, that He’s protecting me from a devastating fall, I can climb with joy. I can climb for Him. I can sing through the stretches and offer thanks when I bump into the soft wall. Hallelujah!
Being a missionary in the DR has it’s challenges and sweet mercies. I know you have your own unique challenges being a mommy missionary in the USA. I hope the next time you feel stretched you will also feel that belay line holding you fast, reminding you of the One Who loves you entirely.
Joy Maschhoff lives and serves with the Navigators in the Dominican Republic with her husband Joe and three children (Noelle, Sophia, and Augie). She has a big heart for Nav kids, being one herself, marrying one, and now raising three! Her joys include passing on a love for the Word of God, crafting, trying out new recipes, and anything to do with coffee, chocolate, or chips and salsa.
When we wrap up a series we are going to tag old ones that are related for some of our newer readers. We don’t have any other posts on life overseas – but here are a couple that are related to trusting God in ministry: Trusting God with the Unexpected, When Ministry Hurts Enjoy!