This is Part 2 of the Young Missionary Survey. (If you missed Part 1, you can access it here.) All of the missionary women participating in this survey are age 35 and below. In this part, we'll hear from the married women* who've served on the field.
The question they’re answering is: Based on your experience, what advice would you give to women?
The young married missionary women answered:
- Enjoy where the Lord currently has you, and make the most of it! There will be times of loneliness, disappointment, fear, feeling inadequate, but God has you. He has currently called you where you are and as long as you are in His will, you will make it through! He doesn't promise that following Him will be easy, but it is worth it! You will eventually be able to speak and understand the language, make friends (as well as your kids), and you will start feeling comfortable and 'normal' in your new homeland. Enjoy where God has you, and when times get hard and you want to complain or 'go back home,' stick it out and you will see that it was worth all you had to do to get there . . . especially the first time you get to lead a national to Christ, or experience your husband do it. smile emoticon
- Write out your expectations for your ministry, for your husband, and for the nationals you are working with. Then, rip it up and ask God to show you His desires and His ways. So many frustrations stem from our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, others, and even of our Heavenly Father. Remember that surrender is more than surrendering to go; it's a daily laying down of self will. There will be many challenges that the Lord gives to reveal our selfishness and pride. May we say as Jesus did, "Thy will be done." Your joy will only be found in Christ. Enjoy your children; see them as God sees them--blessings!
- Practice being positive and making the best with what you have. We all have down days and struggles but no one has to live there. There are always blessings and things to be thankful for in every situation and generally more than we realize. I believe a happy person and a content person is a thankful person. To be thankful you have to be aware of the positive things around you to be thankful for. In the hardest most stressful times when you can't even find a beginning to your list, start loving on God in your quiet time. When you remember his goodness, it makes it easier to see all the good he has given also. Making the best out of a little will come extremely helpful on the field.
- You don't have to know all the answers right now, but trust the One who does. I have yet for Him to lead me astray.
- Love the Lord, love His Work, leave the results to God. Stand on His Promises. He is faithful! Remember that what we get to do is amazing because we reap eternal rewards. Everything we do, and the things we might do without are all worth it so another soul gets to be in heaven for eternity. I constantly remind myself, “Keep your eyes on Jesus!”
- Communicate! Be patient with yourself. Learning a language, culture, building a ministry takes a lifetime; it's not going to happen overnight. Don’t give up! It will feel like more than you can handle, and it is. But it’s not more than God can handle! Learn how to wait on the Lord. It's so easy to get frustrated when things aren't working out the way you want or as quickly as you want, and it can become consuming and drag you down. On purpose, decide to give it to the Lord every day, sometimes multiple times a day and trust in Who He is and that He is your loving Father Who wants the very best for you. He can see the bigger picture and will take care of any need or situation in His timing. The ministry is people. Love them by being selfless and giving. Step out of your comfort zone, and be willing to be used. God will stretch you and bless you through it, if you let Him. Enjoy the adventure!
- Serve others.
- Let go of traditions and be willing to embrace/create a new normal that will meet the unique needs you have in the unique place you've been called. July 4th is wonderful, but don't let the lack of something you've loved keep you from exploring and enjoying the fun things that surround you in your new home.
- The advice that I give myself all the time is to take everything one step at a time. Day by day. If you think of everything that has to be done, it will stress you out. But one task at a time isn't as overwhelming. One of my college professors always said, "shoot the crocodile closet to the boat." And be faithful. God didn't call us to be super successful, just to be faithful to what He has called us to do. He takes care of the rest.
- Do not go into debt. Living on the mission field is stressful. Learning to live on a foreign currency can be challenging. Doing all of that with debt adds a heavy distraction to what you were called to do.
- Be flexible! Flexible with your expectations, flexible with others' mentalities, flexible with your demands on others and yourself, flexible with pastors, flexible with visitors, flexible with household duties, flexible with your husband being on call all the time, flexible with people who don't have the same priorities as you, flexible with your children, flexible with your schedules, flexible when you have NO schedule! Flexibility and the willingness to learn and adapt are important anywhere, but when we can't "fall back" on what we know, or be with people who we instinctively know how to respond to, or how to deal with, when there are spiritual battles and totally different challenges, flexibility becomes invaluable to success on the mission field.
- Remember, to everything there is a season. As a mother and wife I have learned/still learning there are seasons in which we serve in the ministry. When the kids are smaller, it may seem like we are limited. Deputation, language school—those are only for season. God has purpose for all the seasons of life. Enjoy each one, and give each one your 100% best.
- It's totally okay to not be as busy ministry-wise as other older women in ministry are. I felt so much self-inflicted pressure, which translated to pressuring my hubby more because I couldn’t keep up and even once neglecting my kiddos when they were sick. I had to learn to not pressure myself or let others pressure me because there are seasons of life. Titus makes more sense to me now that I have little children. I understand what I can do, though, Sunday schools and women’ meetings. But I'm careful to do what I know doesn't leave my family with only leftovers of me. Last piece of advice I would give is to make your field your home. Don’t keep your eyes back on the States. Bloom where you are and be there completely. It will make a difference to those immediately around you like your little family and even to those you are reaching. Ask God to do this in your heart and family’s heart and let Him bring you joy through it. smile emoticon
- There have been so many times I just needed to vent. It helps me to write it all down, every ugly feeling. That way I can think it through and avoid burdening my husband unnecessarily, and explain what I'm dealing with better.
- Be humble and realize your biggest obstacle and enemy will be yourself.
- Life, in general, is inconvenient. Be flexible. Focus on truth during the hard times. Never forget that the Lord is always in control and He is always good. When going through a trial, look for the many blessings God gives to help you remember He is there with you during the power outages, loneliness, etc. Never underestimate the impact you are making. You may have to do nursery duty every service and never hear a sermon or talk to visitors, but you are making an impact through your example and service to the Lord. Dig roots where the Lord places you. You won't always be there and you may not be able to speak their language, but love and friendship supersedes language. Be faithful even when it hurts. Never stop shedding tears for lost souls.
- My advice would be to not try to be "wonder woman" on the field. You will not always be able to do everything you want to do (especially when you have small children). Let God lead you on a daily basis and always put your family first. I used to constantly beat myself up because I felt like I was not accomplishing much even though I as so busy. God knows our hearts and works in ways we cannot imagine.
- God has taught me so far to be patient; it's okay to take things slow. Learn as you go. Be teachable. Know that God uses people in all different kinds of ways and at all different timings. Do justly. Walk humbly. Love mercy.
- My go to verse when I have a really bad day is Psalms 139:14, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." I never understand how "good, godly people" can be so cruel to missionaries but at the end of the day its not your husband (it is good that I have such a wonderful Godly husband), your children, your parents, your friends or even your pastor but you and your relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ that will get you through it all. If you have that strong relationship with Him, all things will pass away. People will disappoint time and time again. They are not worth giving up the ministry for; they are human! But God is constant!
- God's plans will be much different than yours. After living in (mission field) for a year, I was diagnosed with leukemia, and that definitely wasn't in my plan. We saw God use my illness for good, and even though that wasn't something I would have thought I wanted. Philippians 4:11 is the verse the Lord gave me through that journey. Surrender is hard and sometimes happens to a husband before a wife. (My husband desired to go back to the field when I was given a clean bill of health, but I was much more hesitant.) The Lord worked on my heart, and after several months He gave me peace about returning. God will guide you when you seek and trust in Him.
- Trust God and submit to your husband. Know that your husband is human and he will make mistakes, but that God is in control and it is your job to submit, not fix him. And always show him respect; never disrespect him in public.
- Don't compare yourself to another missionary (good or bad)! Their strengths and weaknesses are not yours. God put you where you are and didn't make a mistake.
- God's timing is always right even when we don't see it. Keep plugging away! He is preparing us for more waiting . . . until we reach heaven! Don't try to carry the same load as your husband. You are not the head of the family or the one responsible for the ministry God has given to him. Your husband needs support and a sweet wife to come home to while he is in the fight! The devil will attack you. Be ready to fight him off with all your might and with prayer. He has been defeated already!
- Keep your eyes on eternity. The highs and the lows, difficulties and victories, will be put in proper focus with eternity in view!
Weren't these a blessing! Thank God for these young missionary women who are willing to lay down their lives to reach others with the gospel.
* Note: The reason I divided singles and marrieds was not to discriminate; it was because singles addressed their advice to singles, and the married women to other married women.