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Thank you for visiting us! Please find our latest blog right below and the rest of them at the bottom of the page, organized chronologically. Enjoy!

 

ByElizabeth Simonyi-Gindele on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Memoirs from a Missionary Mom: On Loneliness

Elizabeth Simonyi-Gindele By Elizabeth Simonyi-Gindele on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

 

Experience has taught me that an inevitable part of being a missionary mother is the feeling of loneliness. Present in varying degrees at different times, loneliness can be a warning sign that I am isolating myself, but it can also simply indicate that I am living as a sojourner where there are divides and differences in culture that can never be crossed.

Isolation is dangerous and should be resisted, but the inescapable moments of loneliness that come with cross-cultural living are best dealt with through acceptance, knowing that they are part of the sacrifice that God asks of us when we answer His call, leave the familiar, and move beyond our comfort zones.

Our First Year

During our first year in Chavuma, Zambia with four boys five years old and under, most days I didn’t get past the clothes line, pegging out loads of diapers and laundry. Even without small children, life in developing countries where many missionary mothers serve is characterized by hard work.

Housework is exponentially greater than here in Canada as dirt and insects abound. Food is prepared from scratch and is sometimes hard to find. The climate taxes energy levels. Power is not always available twenty-four hours of the day. Water needs to be boiled and cooled before it is safe to drink. In those early days in Zambia, the “mom” part of my role left little energy for the “missionary” part, and it would have been easier to focus on tasks of daily life and become isolated from those around me.

I’m thankful for the small goals I set for myself when I was almost overwhelmed by the newness of my overseas experience.

I’m grateful for the Monday afternoons when I joined an older missionary lady to visit in nearby villages. Eventually, I started my own weekly Monday afternoon village trips when I would tie our baby on my back, tuck our toddler in front of me, and drive our four-wheeler to a nearby village, stopping to walk and greet women who were pounding cassava and preparing their evening meal. Wednesday afternoons with the help of a Zambian lady, we cooked a meal of mush and relish and showed hospitality to believers from the local church. Biweekly Sunday afternoons I attended a ladies English Bible study and was able to get to know hospital staff who attended.

If I hadn’t pushed myself to reach out to others from the beginning, it would have been much harder later on.

In those days I struggled with significant loneliness. I was often home on my own as my husband was constantly on-call at the mission hospital. Once our fourth son was born, I didn’t have the energy to progress in my language skills, and my ability to communicate adequately was limited. The Zambian peoples’ lives are vastly different from anything I had known, and they obviously had no concept of where I had come from. Still, I longed to connect on some level with people around me and live Christ before them despite obstacles.

A Pivotal Experience

One Sunday afternoon in Chavuma, I had a pivotal experience that shaped how I view loneliness.

It was the time of day near to the equator where the temperature cools almost imperceptibly and the sun starts its rapid descent to the western horizon. We had stepped out of an English gospel service onto the edge of the dirt roundabout that brings one to the mission hospital at the top of Chavuma Hill.

My gaze was caught by two women who were slowly walking toward the road descending the hill. The older woman came first, carrying something in her hands that looked like a cloth-covered dish. The younger woman came after. I assumed that they had been at the hospital, bringing food to an inpatient.

For some reason I walked across the road to speak to them, clapping my hands and greeting them in the customary Luvale manner. The older woman indicated the bundle she was carrying in her hands and simply stated, “The child has died.” I realized that it was not a dish of food she was carrying, it was a dead baby.

They were making their way slowly down to the foot of the hill to the burying place. There, a male family member would meet them, having prepared a hole in the dry, rocky soil. After they placed the small body in the hole and filled it in with dirt, they would heap stones on top to stop dogs from clawing through.

Thankfully, I had enough Luvale to appropriately express “this is a hard thing” and the ladies continued on their way.

Accepting Loneliness (and Trusting God to Carry it)

As I reflected on that experience, I realized that I will never fully understand what it is to be a mother and woman in a culture so different than my own - and that is alright. There are aspects of culture that cannot be crossed no matter the efforts I take to not isolate myself, no matter the endeavours I make to speak another’s heart language, no matter the lengths I go to to understand another’s history. I still must humbly learn, adapt, and demonstrate love and empathy.

I can display Christ to those He has sent me to serve despite inevitable cultural divides.

Two long-ago writers, Amy Carmichael and Hannah Hurnard, both wrote poems titled, “In Acceptance Lieth Peace”. I have found this description to be true when loneliness comes from never quite being understood or fully known. As I have lived cross-culturally as a missionary mother, I have experienced God’s peace when I have accepted my loneliness, offered it back to Him, and trusted Him to carry it for me.

Missionary mothers around the world need your faithful prayer support. Have you reached out to one of these mothers to let her know that you are committing to pray for her? Based on this article, what are some good, open-ended questions you can ask a missionary mother about how she has coped with the experiences of isolation and loneliness on the field?



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Did you miss our past blogs? Check them out below!

 

Adult Third Culture Kid Research

One of the main reasons I decided to pursue doctoral studies was to conduct research. Not just any research, but "Adult Third Culture Kid" (ATCK) research. For many years, I worked with children, teens, and adults from various mission agencies, preparing them for international ministry and helping them transition back to Canada.

As I listened to their stories of joy and heartbreak, accomplishments and struggles, I realized that there is so much more that we, as caregivers and organizations, can learn from these international workers and their families to contribute to their transition and healing. In particular, we need to find new ways to help them help themselves, long after the end of the transition retreats and workshops we offer.

The question I am exploring for my research is “How can spiritual self-leadership encourage identity development and sense of belonging in ATCKs in order for them to fully realize their potential and value contribution in the workplace?”

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6 Gospel Truths for TCKs

Ethan, an adult Missionary Kid, shares 6 gospel truths for Missionary Kids & Third Culture Kids ...

"While there are many positive things about growing up as Missionary Kids, we face unique challenges and personal needs that sometime seem impossible to meet. Yet there is someone who promises to be able to meet those needs in a meaningful way, Jesus. The good news of Jesus is He can meet every need of our heart arising from growing up cross-culturally."

 

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 A behind the scenes look at God's faithfulness in the MORE Network and an invitation to pray with us!

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Changing the Oil on your Cross-Cultural Worker

How do we care for our Cross-Cultural Ministry Workers? Using car maintenance as an analogy, Mark unpacks three ways the church can support & care for Cross-Cultural Ministry Workers.

 

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The Joy of Transitions

God calls us to follow Him in obedience. Almost always it means change. Leaving our comfort zone, we move into unknown territory, feeling anxious, fearful, and sometimes terrified. Yet we can journey through transitions with confidence, fearlessly, and with anticipation. What does transitioning God's way look like? 

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Wilderness ReBoot: Solitude, Community & Mission

Ben shares about how his love for the wilderness first started, and gives insight into what adult MKs (Missionary Kids) can expect at Wilderness ReBoot. 

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What are some ways you could love and encourage the MKs you know? Here's a story of how one church practically loved and supported MKs!

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Adult Third Culture Kid Research
One of the main reasons I decided to pursue doctoral studies was to conduct research. Not just any research, but "Adult Third Culture Kid" (ATCK) research. For many years, I worked with children, teens, and adults from ...
Read more...
6 Gospel Truths for TCKs
Ethan, an adult Missionary Kid, shares 6 gospel truths for Missionary Kids & Third Culture Kids ... "While there are many positive things about growing up as Missionary Kids, we face unique challenges and personal ...
Read more...
Behind the Scenes (at MORE Network)
 A behind the scenes look at God's faithfulness in the MORE Network and an invitation to pray with us!
Read more...
Serving Leaders: Replacing Ourselves
How do we serve leaders? By thinking about how to replace them! Okay, maybe some of you will think this is a bad idea...
Read more...
Changing the Oil on your Cross-Cultural Worker
How do we care for our Cross-Cultural Ministry Workers? Using car maintenance as an analogy, Mark unpacks three ways the church can support & care for Cross-Cultural Ministry Workers.  
Read more...
The Joy of Transitions
God calls us to follow Him in obedience. Almost always it means change. Leaving our comfort zone, we move into unknown territory, feeling anxious, fearful, and sometimes terrified. Yet we can journey through transitions...
Read more...
Wilderness ReBoot: Solitude, Community & Mission
Ben shares about how his love for the wilderness first started, and gives insight into what adult MKs (Missionary Kids) can expect at Wilderness ReBoot. 
Read more...
Christmas Memories from Around the World
Watermelon, Handprints and Fireworks ... What do they all have in common? They are all elements of favourite Christmas memories and traditions from our MORE staff, from around the world! 
Read more...
Loving and Supporting MKs: One Church's Story
What are some ways you could love and encourage the MKs you know? Here's a story of how one church practically loved and supported MKs!
Read more...
World Mental Health Day 2021
3 Articles + 1 Library for World Mental Health Day 2021. Resources for Cross-Cultural Workers & Third Culture Kids. 
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