I have a confession to make…..sometimes I feel like I am not a good missionary.
Kevin and I arrived in Botswana full time in 2004.
I’ve been doing this full time for 13 years.
It’s a long time.
At the same time I feel like even after 13 years, there is still so much to learn.
I don’t know the language. Setswana is hard and it’s even harder to find someone who will take the time to teach you in conversational Setswana.
I don’t have the culture figured out yet. I cringe because I know I’ve probably offended more times than I really even realized. It’s not intentional……it’s just culture.
Sometimes I have no clue what my exact calling is here in Botswana. I thought I knew…..several times, only to discover I really have no clue. Missionary friends around me impress me with their clearly drawn out paths and big dreams. Me I am over here like, “Uh…..”
Since moving to the southern part of Botswana three years ago, I really find myself trying to find my niche. Our first year in our new ministry, I was told, give it a year to settle and then you’ll find it. Three years later I know no more of what I am supposed to be doing than I did when I arrived in Lobatse.
I cringe when people ask me, “So Sarah, what do you do with Word to Africa?”
Five years ago I could have answered that question without blinking.
Now, not so much.
It goes something like this, “Uh well…..my husband…..”
Yup, I deflect to what Kevin does, because it’s far easier to tell people what he does as his is more “missionary work”.
Me, well right now, I am more a full time mom than a full time missionary. Most days I am really okay with this as I know this season with my kids is short in the big scheme of things. Spending time with them and parenting them is a great honor and I pray that the Lord uses me every day to be the best parent to them.
But there’s a part of me that misses that season where I was doing “missionary work.”
When my dad was in the hospital in December he had just gotten the worst news of his life…stage 4 terminal cancer.
We were scheduled to return back to Botswana less than 30 days later and my head was spinning with all the questions of what we were to do.
Almost as if my dad was reading my mind he gave me the last “daddy talk” that I ever got and it was a doozie.
He looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “Sis, you have a job to do in Botswana. That is where your work is and no matter how this all shakes out, when January 9th rolls around, you get on that plane and you go home. You get my babies back into school and you get back to work.”
“Well we’ll see what happens Daaa….”
“Sis, I AM SERIOUS, you go!” (Insert stern look and a finger pointing.) “That’s your home and while it hurts my heart every time you leave, that’s where you belong and your mom and I are so very proud of you for that.”
And that was the end of it. My father had spoken and I knew better than to argue back.
Five days later, he passed away.
January 9th rolled around and with a very heavy heart, I packed up my little family and we did what dad said….we went back home.
Landing in Africa usually brings me so much joy, but my heart was so heavy with grief, the ocean that separated me from my grieving mom and sister seemed especially big.
I honestly don’t know how I did it. I know it was a daughter doing what her dad asked of her. I also know that the Lord gave me such an endless amount of grace to just “Chin Up Buttercup” (as my dad used to say.) Looking back now, I am just amazed at the strength the Lord gives us when we need it the most.
This past Sunday our family went to visit our dear friends Isaac and Vino, who have been pastoring a church in Metllobo about an hour away. Kevin needed to do some prep work for an upcoming outreach (see “missionary things”) and so we decided to go as a family as I had never been to his church.
As I walked closer to the church (which was really a small room…..small…..very small!) I heard the beautiful voices singing in worship. My heart swelled. (If you have never visited an African church….it should be on your bucket list!)
I was greeted with a rib crushing hug from an African momma who was singing her heart out.
I made my way to a chair as my husband and kids left to do children’s church outside. I sat in a cramped and stuffy room with about 30 other people and listened to them talk about the Lord’s faithfulness through testimony after testimony.
I was touched. I needed to hear those stories.
Babies who had been prayed for were being born.
Fields that had produced no crops were flourishing.
Sickness was healed.
And the smiles on their faces said it all……the Lord is faithful.
I sat there and just had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. In that moment, even though I have no clue what all is ahead, the Lord is faithful and He who has called me to this great country knows the steps ahead.
All I have to do is love people and be obedient to what the Lord has told me to do.
My missionary work might not look like “missionary work” to me right now, but my dad was right, I do have job to do and it’s here.
Till then, I just keep moving forward and somewhere along the lines pray that I am making both my earthly dad and my heavenly Dad very proud.
So there you have it folks….confessions from this missionary momma!