Broken and Thrilled

Story and photos by Christine Stanfield, missionary to Uganda.

My heart is broken. My soul is thrilled. My heart rejoices. My soul feels crushed. All of this happens every Tuesday afternoon as I gather with other volunteers and women in this community. While women come I assess blood pressures, answer questions mamas ask about their pregnancy or other health concerns, hand out Mama Kits, greet their young children and I pray. During the meeting we offer praise and worship, we share God’s Word together and we pray.

Looking at their surroundings it could be assumed the women gathering here have nothing. But when I am with these dear ones, my heart is broken and my soul is thrilled. My heart rejoices even as my soul feels crushed. And just when I think I have seen it all, THIS HAPPENED on Tuesday…

As the opening announcements were being given and ladies straggled into the gathering, one very pregnant mama stopped to talk to the leader. In turn, the leader shared with me that one of the mamas who comes regularly gave birth within the last 48 hours. All was well with the mom and babe until about 24 hours later when the mom wasn’t doing so well. She was transferred to a hospital.

The leader reported she had just been told that mom has nothing with her in the hospital. Her husband is in prison. She has no baby clothes. She has no food for herself and no money to use to meet any of their needs. This is not an uncommon scenario for these women. The leader said the mama who told her of this dire situation wanted to know if they could ask the women gathered to contribute to help the mama in the hospital. I agreed with the leader, “Yes! Let’s give these mamas a chance to be blessed through giving.”

The announcement was made. The ladies stood and prayed together for the mama in the hospital and for her tiny newborn. They prayed earnestly, with sincerity, asking God to intervene and meet that mama, one of their own. My heart was broken but my soul was thrilled! I could almost feel the breath of the Holy Spirit.

And then, they put what they had into the offering cup.

They gave, and not just a little. These precious women collected nearly 40,000 Ugandan shillings (just over the equivalent of U.S. $10)! Amazing! My heart rejoiced in their generosity even as my soul felt crushed with the weight of what they would be going without in their own homes in order to help give life to the mama and newborn in the hospital. I could almost hear the angels rejoicing.

On Tuesday afternoons my heart is broken. My soul is thrilled. My heart rejoices. My soul feels crushed. And I can hardly wait until Tuesday comes again.

ACT: Have you considered becoming part of the great stories told on the MissionCentral blog? Get connected to WGM Mobilization today to find out how you can serve in Uganda or other countries around the world.

 

Raising and Training Disciples

Toys are spread all over the floor. The two older boys are wrestling and fighting and need disciplined. The youngest needs a nap, and we have an appointment to get to in an hour. Pick up that mess! Stop fighting! Please stop crying! There’s so much noise and chaos every day. This situation can be summed up in the title “stay at home mom,” which our American culture uses often. But how does this work in other cultures? How do missionary moms do it? Read this story by Krista Horn, missionary mom at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, to find out.

Recently I was asked, yet again, what it is that I do here. Besides the kids, that is. I’ve been asked this question many times, in various forms. This time it was phrased, “The kids are enough, I know [insert awkward laugh], but have you been to the Peds ward or the orphanages? I mean, what’s your thing?” I was honest: I don’t do anything. And I wasn’t embarrassed or guilt-ridden with that reply.

Long before we reached the mission field, and even before we had kids, I used to vex over this issue. What would I do? What would be my ministry, my “thing”? And how would I ever accomplish said ministry if we had kids in tow? What would it look like to be the non-ministry spouse as we headed overseas?

Well, after five years of motherhood and one year of missionaryhood, I’ve come a long way in my understanding of this issue. I currently don’t vex about it. The pressure to give an answer to the question “What do you do?” let alone give an answer the inquirer wants to hear, simply isn’t there. Not only have I given myself the grace to “do nothing” but take care of our three very busy and active little boys, but I’ve really begun to understand the fact that the value of “doing” and “accomplishing” is a cultural value – a high value in our American culture but not necessarily in this Kenyan culture. And that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s often a very good thing.

It’s no secret that our Western culture is work-driven and success-oriented. It’s a wonderful thing in that it’s allowed our culture to come so far in areas like medicine and education and technology and infrastructure and countless other things. And being a Type A, super organized, task-oriented, efficient person, I love this part of our culture. Actually, I appreciate it so much that, since living here in Kenya, I’ve often had to fight my own cultural superiority when I see inefficient systems in place that perpetuate poverty and disease and lack of education. Sometimes I want to shout, “If you would just do something then it wouldn’t be this way!” And that’s partly true. There is certainly room for this culture to grow in just getting things done. However, I’ve been able to pull back a bit this year and see glimpses of the bigger picture, which has shown me that our own work-driven culture doesn’t get it all right, and this less-efficient culture doesn’t get it all wrong.

Here’s what Kenyan culture does really well: focus on people. Case in point: stopping to greet people is very important here. It’s unfathomable to the average Kenyan why you would have anything so important to do that it would cause you to breeze past them without stopping to say hello and shake hands at the very least, if not ask about the family as well. Another case in point: when you meet someone for the first time, the question “So what do you do?” never comes up. Why would that be pertinent? Most people are subsistence farmers anyway and wouldn’t be able to regale you with tales of their career path to date. On the contrary, people are not generally concerned with what anyone does, but they are concerned with how your family is doing and whether your children are well and how they’re enjoying the break from school. The people here care about people.

And that is something I’ve grown to love about this culture.

It’s also something that’s inherently hard to adjust to because, truth be told, it’s tiring to greet so many people along the way. It makes going anywhere twice as long as it should be, which is especially hard when you have a tired toddler on your back who really needs to get home and take a nap, or when you’re just simply not in the mood to say hello to anyone. And Eli often has a hard time coming and going from the hospital because there are so many “speedbumps” along the way (which is a Kenyan expression used to describe being late because of greeting people). But the point remains: this culture cares way more about people than our own culture tends to, and that is a good and godly thing.

So what do I do at Tenwek? Well, technically I’ve been teaching a PreK/K class for MKs for the past five months as well as coordinating all the holiday gatherings for the missionary community, which is something I suppose. But more than anything, what I do is take care of our kids. I feed them and clothe them and change their diapers and wipe their bottoms and teach, discipline, and encourage them. In other words, I have three little disciples in my charge every day, and mothering them is what I do each day as a missionary.

To read the rest of the story, visit Eli and Krista’s ministry blog at storiesinmission.blogspot.com.

ACT: There are many missionary moms out there, working hard to raise and train disciples of Christ. Will you send a word of encouragement to some of them? Here’s what you can do: Post a comment on this blog story—or a message if you prefer something more private— with your word of encouragement, and we will get it out to the moms on the field.

Chogoria Chaplains’ Excellent Work

Jim and Martha Ritchie are missionaries working in medical training and discipleship at Chogoria Hospital in Kenya. In their most recent ministry blog update, they speak about the wonderful work the chaplains are doing at Chogoria despite the government doctors’ strike. Learn more about how God is using those in His service at Chogoria to lift up the poor in spirit.

“The Chaplains in Chogoria continue to carry an enormous burden of care.  Right now in Kenya, the government doctors have been on strike for three months, and many of the patients who would normally go to the government hospitals have sought care at the Mission Hospitals.  Consequently, the workload for Chogoria has increased dramatically.  Sadly some of the government-sponsored doctors who work at Chogoria felt compelled to join the strike, so staffing is decreased despite the increased workload.  In the middle of the struggle are our magnificent Chaplains.

“Every month, our Chaplains produce a report of their activities.  I thought I might reproduce their most recent report here to give you an idea of their wonderful work.  They don’t just sit around in the office waiting for work.  They are out in the wards and offices and waiting areas and counseling rooms, actively doing the King’s work.  I am intensely proud of them.  Please pray for them and for all the Chogoria staff who are carrying the day, showing the compassion of Christ to patients who otherwise may feel abandoned.”

To continue reading the Ritchies’ blog, visit chogoriastories.blogspot.com for stories and statistics about how God is working. If you’re interested in serving at Chogoria, visit www.wgm.org/kenya for more information about available ministry opportunities and how you can get involved.

Meet Mondo

Darin and Laura Arnott are missionaries on the American Indian Field. Read their story about a business owner God is using to share His gospel message with Native Americans. Please also pray for Mondo as he seeks God’s wisdom in expanding his ministry.

arnott

“Mondo is the owner of Mondo’s Food Spot, located in Sells AZ, on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. He is truly a bright spot in our lives and we enjoy our times spent with him on our frequent trips to Sells. We travel to Sells once or twice a month. While there, Laura visits a young lady in the jail and Darin follows up with a teen boy we met at summer camp. It seems we always end up at the grocery store! This last time we ran into a couple people we know. What a blessing to see familiar faces smiling back at us!

“We are so impressed by Mondo’s story. He faithfully serves his community of Sells through food service. When people come in for a bite of local Tohono O’odham flavor, they also receive a slice of God’s Word. Mondo freely shares the Gospel and his testimony of redemption! Mondo is also in the process of implementing some modern updates to his business, specifically a new roof, new structural support and electricity. We are excited to walk with Mondo and see how God continues to work in and through his life.”

WGM encourages you to spread the gospel however you can at your workplace. Missions work goes beyond the title of “missionary.” We are all called, and WGM can help you spread the good news (www.wgm.org/worldgo) and connect with the Arnotts (Arnotts’ Facebook or Arnotts’ missionary page).