Deputation Tips Part 1
Some enjoy it, some endure it. Some love it, some hate it, but most missionaries do it! It's called deputation. Deputation is a time of visiting churches in order to present your call and burden while making churches aware of the need for the Gospel to your particular mission field.
All those hours in the car and spending so many nights in unfamiliar places can be hard when you add small children to the mix. Most missionaries on deputation are young families with small children. I love to see the young families, with bright eyes and fresh faces eager and excited to get to their mission fields! However, deputation may be challenging for the young mother who juggles her wifely and motherly duties with all the other responsibilities and challenges that deputation brings.
Here are a few things that helped me on my deputation journey with two small children. For you missionary wives that have "been there, done that" please feel free to add any comments of your own with advice or tips that have helped you. For you missionary wives that are on deputation right now and have anything to add, please do! You are experiencing this ministry right now and may have many things to share.
This week we'll discuss the "Traveling" aspect of Deputation. Next week we'll discuss the "Staying" aspect of Deputation.
Clorox Wipes - I took these everywhere! Sometimes you may need them to tidy up a place you are staying, especially motel rooms. I would always wipe down everything I thought my babies would touch. Also, they are quick, easy and portable for cleaning up after yourselves in a prophet's chamber or someone's house. Our rule of thumb was to leave the place as nice or better than when we arrived.
Baby Wipes - We always kept a container of these in the car as well as one in my diaper bag. They are handy for quick hand and face washes, quick clean ups, etc…
Paper Towels - We always kept a roll of these in our car and they were always handy.
Color Wonder - I'm not sure if they still have this in America, but this stuff was amazing! It was always a great treat for my kids to color with markers. Color Wonder was great because they could color with this and there was no concern of them getting the marker anywhere but the paper. Great when you are guests in someone's home!
Good Music - Our oldest kids were very young during our deputation years, but they still loved music! Sometimes all they needed during a fussy, tired time was some music to sooth them and send them right to sleep!
"Special" Toys - When space permitted we would keep a small container of some favorite toys in the car. The only time they played with these was in the car, and when we were guests in someone's home.
Clothes - You really don't need as many as you think you do! It's hard to decide which cute little outfit, or adorable dress you want to pack, but the truth of the matter is, your kids can wear the same things every Sunday and the only ones who will know that are you and them! After several months on deputation I realized that I only needed a certain number of outfits for Mission's Conferences, etc… Certainly take into account the age of your baby and know that sometimes a change of clothes in mid-service is necessary, but also realize that laundry facilities are almost always available.
Packing System - I found what worked best for me was to have the suitcases organized, i.e. one for the parents, one for the kids, (obviously this will be different for different family sizes) a toiletry bag and garment bag.
"Home" - We traveled with our Pack-n-Play when space permitted. It was nice for our baby to sleep in her own bed every night. Each child also had their own special blanket (and still do several years later...same blanket!) that they kept in the car with them and slept with at night. It was a functional piece of "home" that they could bring with them and also served a valuable purpose (Since my husband liked to keep the temperature of the car at sub-arctic temperatures! :-))
Ice Chest - We were thrilled towards the end of our deputation when we were lent a mini-van and moved out of our Dodge Neon. The van was roomy enough to fit a cooler, the pack-n-play and all of our luggage… with room to spare! We kept the cooler filled with bottled water, juice, milk and sometimes sandwich fixings. It was always nice to stop off somewhere for a picnic and for the kids to run off some energy.
Snacks - Sometimes a cranky toddler is just a hungry toddler. We always kept a variety of good snacks for the children in the car. These came in handy on long trips when the exits seem to get father and farther apart… and there are no food places in sight.
Bags - The hard truth is that sometimes kids (or adults!) get car sick! Before we started any trip we would have several plastic bags double bagged together and in an easily accessible place in the car. They hardly took up any space, but when someone got sick it was just a simple matter of tying shut the top bag and disposing of it at the first rest stop we came across. No messy bucket to clean or rinse out and you can use the aforementioned baby wipes and/or Clorox Wipes if everything didn't quite make it into the bag. A trash bag is handy too… a place to keep all the trash in one spot until you stop for gas and can throw it away and then start another one from your stash.
Family - Deputation is probably the only time (until furlough) where you will spend countless hours sitting with your husband and children. Use this time to bond with your children by playing silly road games, singing songs, learning Bible verses, even language study! Strengthen your relationship with your husband, enjoy this time of togetherness before you enter the completely new and wonderful, but somewhat scary and very different life on the mission field!