Monday, June 16, 2008

Living in the Mundane

It was about fifteen years ago that I spent a summer helping out a missionary family with small kids through a difficult time in their lives. Health problems and ministry requirements meant that the family could just use an extra pair of hands. I had a spare pair that summer, so I went.

A group of people had breakfast with me that last morning before the flight. They all shared verses with me and prayed for me. I took off, fairly excited and slightly proud of myself. It was going to be an exciting summer...

Weeks later, as I mopped up pee for the third time that day - potty training was taking awhile to sink in, but thank God for cement floors! - I sat back on my heels and thought about the day I flew over here. Such big thoughts filled my head. But here I sit, mopping up pee. Tonight, again, I will try to wrangle a few wiggly, dirty kids through their bath in the round, plastic basin, trying not to get soaked myself. It is not exactly what I thought.

You would have thought that my life as an MK would have prepared me for this day, the routine of the mundane setting in. Later, as a mother of many, I realize that nothing can quite mentally prepare us for the repetitive tasks that lay ahead... "Didn't I just mop this floor two minutes ago?" "Ahh! What is on your shirt?! Go get a new one on, and then stand by the door and do nothing except breathe until I get the others dressed!"

I found out I was not the only one. Another young man had also ended up down in the same city helping out in another area. Unlike me, he had never even been outside his own state. His dreams of adventure were even greater than mine. Right before we left, our hosts must have felt sorry that we had not seen much of this great country, so they sent us off on a few days trip with one missionary. It was fun. But as we stood looking over one of this country's magnificent attractions, the young man turned to me and said, "whew! This missionary stuff sure isn't one adventure after another like I thought it would be, is it?"

There are days that I remember his comment and laugh. No, it isn't. There are still people in my home church who think that. "How exciting it must be!" Well, maybe. There are exciting things, yes. But this morning... well, I spent an hour sorting through used clothes to find clothes for my kids for next year, trying to guess how fast they will grow. Now I am home. One set of guests has gone, and in a week or two another set will arrive. I am staring at eight beds that need to be changed, washed, rearranged, and set up again.

No, there are days that it is even boring. (Just don't tell my kids that I used that word!)

Then I remember a dusty quote from Hudson Taylor. I can't even remember how he said it. But the gist of it was this: "When you don't know what to do, start by doing your duty. God will meet you there." So today, with lots on my heart, worries about loved ones, worries about what consequences of choices will be, all this filling my mind with "what if's", I chose to do my duty. I'll wait for God to meet me there.

Off to change eight beds... don't even think about the laundry and scrubbing that will come next...

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