30 November, 2014

Ministry in the midst of dirty underwear

This morning I stood in a church's car park digging around in a bag of dirty clothes, trying to stop my husband's underwear from falling onto the ground. My agitated son jiggled about next to me, his shorts in tatters.

Earlier I'd walked across the same car park as I attached my official magnetic name-tag to my blouse. We were at the church to represent our mission at their annual missions Sunday. (Something that I'd like to suggest is not a good way to approach promoting missions in your church, but that topic is for another day.)

Our children have always had a nice levelling effect upon us. Our journey as missionaries began very early in our marriage. We first started speaking at events like this when I was pregnant with our first child. It took us a long time to be able to get clearance to leave and our son was 18 months old when we finally left Australia. I used to pray before events that there would be someone who would volunteer to look after him while we spoke up the front. I remember searching for a private space at the back of a large historical, but unfamiliar church where I could breastfeed. That was just a part of our normal life.

Once in Japan and in language school we studied the Japanese language while our son napped. When he didn't nap, we didn't study. Partway through language school I fell pregnant and needed to nap myself, so my study fell behind.

Our second son attended his first school at only a few weeks of age. He accompanied me to my one-on-one Japanese lessons. The boys indeed kept us from devoting ourselves too much to our studies, but they also had us out in the park meeting other families, and sitting in the cry room at church. They had us grounded in the reality that we were just like any other person on this earth, nothing special.

When we came back the first time from Japan our eldest was five and his nearly two year old younger brother's introduction to the land of his citizenship was via visiting churches. The third boy came along only a couple of months before the end of that year in Australia. His first road trip was to visit churches in Sydney and Canberra, his first airplane trip was to Japan when he was not yet three months old.

As we've gone along in this interesting lifestyle they've been a part of whatever what going on. There's been no clear separation between family life and ministry life. Occasionally we've done "ministry" without them, but more often than not they've been in the vicinity.

So it's no surprise this morning that as we set up our table, like we've done many times before, we had a boy come to us with a problem. He'd shredded his shorts. No idea how.

If we'd been at a church in Brisbane, we'd have had nothing to offer except condolences, but today we had our luggage for the weekend stay. Except that our stay was coming to its conclusion and everything we had was pre-worn.

Hence I was dispatched to dig through the bag of dirty clothes in the boot of our car. 

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