Thursday, 18 September 2014

Missionary learnings

It's night time and the little people in the family are finally asleep. The bigger ones are watching How To Train Your Dragon in Russian and laughing a lot - including John and that's a bit surreal - so i'm allowed unfettered access to the laptop. At last!

I love to write but I don't get to do it that often at the moment. Something to do with having a tiny person permanently attached to my, ahem, self. All day i'm musing things inside my mind, lots of deep things I could write about like how weird it is suddenly having two teenage daughters, or how God seems to be holding our heads above water with invisible hands, or how John is starting to deal with the trauma of some of the things that happened when Sim was born or...a million things. But Sim doesn't sleep a lot, I don't have a lot of time and also I'm not that interesting so if you want to know about the deep stuff then email me. You will receive a misspelt answer typed onto a smartphone with one finger while Sim is attached to the aforementioned, ahem, self.
In the meantime here is a silly list that sort of sums up some stuff we've been realizing about missions lately.

What being a missionary gives you:
1) Flexibility.
We were pretty chilled out before we got out here (i.e. completely unorganised) but after a couple of years on the missions field we are bendy like sexy yoga teachers. In the last two weeks we've been told that Svieta isn't going to move in, and then that she is going to move in, and then that she'll be sleeping a few nights a week in dorms, and then that she actually doesn't like it there and will be coming home tonight for dinner. And that ain't nuthin. Things change so much out here that trying to keep track would give one whiplash and thus we keep our knees bent, our eyes on the horizon and ride the waves of change as if we've never made a plan in the first place.
This annoys the bananas out of family who need to know days in advance when we can skype. But we don't know. We have a plan, but the plan is written in pixie dust and liable to dissolve. Sorry. Blame the people who design our days. 'Cos it's not us.

2) The Giggles
Things that once seemed profound/ worrying/ important start to seem, well, just kind of silly. Oh no, my laptop is broken. Hahaha!
Oh no, Beth is having a strop again. Hahaha!
We haven't had our date night. Our what night? Hahaha!
We regularly, every day, spend our time with children who were dumped in orphanages at three months old. We cuddle babies in hospital who are alone and scared and nobody comes when they cry cos it hurts. We deal with corrupt police, civil war and not understanding anybody ever.
It makes one a little frothy in the face of things that used to be a big deal. Things that once would have prompted an indignant blog rant have been demoted to 'silly'. That and also we're hysterical with exhaustion and despair. Wheeeeeee!

3) Sugar issues.
We comfort eat. We crave food with energy in it. We're borderline diabetic. Send celery.

4) Weird kids.
Beth's speaking age in England is that of a four year old, which is fun 'cos she is two. It got a bit ridiculous, even trips to the park ended in accolades for the smart kid. Random grannies were impressed. It was nice.
Here she is regarded as a slack jawed moron by local kids who, to be honest, are themselves essentially pond life. Because she can't speak Ukrainian. As a proud mother I hate that her true genius isn't appreciated as it should be, and that the locals aren't wearing t-shirts emblazoned with pictures of her FACE. Everyone should have one.
But it's ok. She doesn't care. She thinks it's normal and she's learning the new words super fast and she potters about making up her own languages in the sandpit and employing classic toddler choosiness when meeting strangers. Think blank death stare if you're speaking Ukrainian. It's brilliant. I love her.

5) Owbies.
Last week we decided to travel as a family to one of the orphanages that we visit. Why? Because two hours each way isn't a big deal (see point two). Because it's good for the kids out there to see, and learn, what a loving family dynamic looks like and because it's really fun for Beth because there's playgrounds and piles of dirt and feral puppies and possibly ebola. Also it's fun to do things together. And everyone loves babies.
On our way home Beth snuggled in to me - face covered in chocolate ice cream, mud, sweat and blood from a monkey bars induced fat lip - and it was perfect. Sim passed out in the car seat, tired from too many gentle head strokes and pokey fingers. Maternal guilt is a fairly constant state but this time I decided to shrug it off, all those thoughts of 'what if' and 'oh no' and 'what will people think'. Instead I decided to hold my sweaty bleedy princess while she dreamed of dirtpits and be grateful that this life affords her a little adventure. I don't believe that God wants me to (s)mother in fear, I think that although I will never forget every single bump and graze and the terror of serious harm...I think that I can give all that to Him to deal with and learn to rejoice in the freedom of raising a slightly feral child. Because I want her to know her own capacity for bravery and joy. I want her adventures to shame mine.

6) Some things that look a bit like Jesus.
There's a new thing at the centre of me and I think it's joy. Maybe. Peace? I'm not sure what to call it, and please bear in mind the sleep deprived-ness of me, but I don't recognise myself from ten years ago. Or even last year when culture shock was making me a crazy person.
If you'd told me a few years ago the kind of thing I'd be dealing with in 2014 - two ridiculous childbirths, learning how to raise babies, learning how to love a new culture and the teenagers that it brings into my home that isn't even my home and how do I deal with that and working in orphanages and sourcing things and having permanently high blood pressure and and and and and. I would have kicked you in the privates and run away screaming.
But now there's a God-bit within me, forged and being forged, sharp. I am held together by the prayers of the saints at home but also the core of me is getting more like Him. More peaceful, more joyful and more content.
Oh dear I'm tired and talking rubbish.
Over and out. xxx

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