29 October, 2014

Unexpected challenges of missionary life

I've read a great blog post here this morning by a missionary in Africa. His first three points particularly resonate with me:

1. Raising third culture children is difficult.
"I can’t judge childhood success or failure by the American parameters which informed my own childhood."
Walking recently with our hosts in Perth. That
is my eldest son giving a shoulder-ride. (Not
my husband!)
That I find hard too. When facing parenting challenges I don't know what to do about or feeling a bit insecure, I have a tendency to think, "What did my mum do?" or "What do other Australian mums do?" But this often isn't helpful thinking, because the circumstances in which we're raising our kids is different. It can get worse easily from there when I start to negatively compare myself to how I perceive other mums in Australia do/did parenting. 

2. Furloughs (aka home assignments) are hard. 

Well, if you've been reading this blog over the last few months that should be obvious. The blogger makes the point that the more children you have the more complicated furloughs are. That, I would agree with without question and is one reason we stopped at three. I would add there that home assignments are also expensive, every time we fly with everyone it costs a lot, so frequent trips back to Australia aren't possible.

His children are all younger than ours, but under the first point he said that being a TCK has made his oldest child really good at making new friendships. I think that that ability is partly attributable to personality, not just the circumstances in which they are growing up, as it hasn't worked that way for my two eldest children!

3. Downward mobility
"Our earthly belongings in the States mostly include my theological books and my wife’s pictures and memory boxes."
Us too, although we've gathered the contents of a kitchen and a few other bits and pieces including a bed, a dining room table, and a lounge.

Downward mobility is something I've been thinking about too. We live comfortably, no complaints. But we do have to watch our budget. We don't own any property and sometimes I wish we did (without the mortgage and challenge of maintaining it). 

Sometimes it is hard while we're in Australia, to keep our eyes on the goal and not get distracted by the seemingly free-spending Australians. Not to think about where we might have been if we'd stayed here and moved along in our professions.
"Like many things connected to the missionary movement, there is a tinge of romanticism in being labeled a “global nomad”. Yet living a nomadic existence with children, at times, is more like a dark comedy than a romantic fun-filled adventure. Especially on long plane rides."

In conclusion, he's given us some good thoughts, though not as well written as I might have liked. Oh, but that's the editor/writer in me! I could also add many more points to the topic. But I'll save them for another day.

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