We are almost 2 months into life back in Lilongwe! This little (or not so little) post is just a realistic look into my thoughts on life currently. But before I get into that, just to recap: we are very happy to be back. School has been good, community is good, and we are excited to be back in the place that God has asked us to serve. In the midst of transitioning back, there has been a lot of life learning as well. Ministry is part of our lives in the Kingdom, and though much of our learning recently seems to be more life oriented, when you minister out of your life, it impacts every aspect. So the things we are learning about being parents are gateways into learning much bigger truths about who God is, and what He asks of us.
Parenting is hard. Parenting in the US is hard for lots of reasons, and parenting in Malawi is hard for lots of reasons…some reasons are the same, some are different. Here, there is a lot of flexibility. Norah and I can pop down and see Dan during the day, which is a huge blessing. We have great community and have lots of willing hands to help out if we need someone to watch Norah for a bit. Life is slower here in general, which means more family time together. All of these things are amazing gifts.
But here, there is also a lot of cultural uncertainty and uncomfortability (is that a word?). Here there is the moment of panic in the shop when your previously content baby starts to squirm in the wrap, and eventually lets out a full out scream…panic because all eyes were already on you and your very white baby when you walked in the door, and now they are REALLY all on you; because Malawian babies seem to magically never cry. Now all eyes are on you waiting to see what you do, and you have to fight against every fiber of your being not to just get super embarrassed and flustered, but to try to hold on to the belief that tending to your child is more important that reacting to what others think. Here there is dust everywhere, ALL THE TIME, making you completely irrationally worried about the condition of your child’s lungs. And here you have to worry about checking your babies’ mosquito net thoroughly before putting them in it each night. Here you have to worry when a pesky mosquito sneaks through and takes advantage of your poor innocent baby while she is sleeping (6 times on her face!!), and now you are on malaria watch until the symptom window passes. Here there is a lot of normal life, but with a lot of little differences that make everything seem completely different than what you are used to.
Its been a bit of a hard week for us….for me especially. I feel like I have been coming up against the differences between life with Norah in the States compared to life with Norah here, and it has been a struggle this week. Things that I can normally approach with an optimistic outlook have been extremely frustrating to me, and I have had a hard time taking my thoughts captive and seeking to turn around my outlook. I have been missing my family a lot, and have found myself really wishing to be able to have coffee with my mom. Or sit with my sisters while our babies play together. Or go walk around the outlets with my mother-in-law and go get lunch. Because I know in all of those moments, they would be encouraging and remind me that being a mom can be tough, but to hang in there…I mean, being a human can be tough, but we just need to hang in there, right? And I can have those conversations over the phone (when it works), but it isn’t always quite the same.
It has been a hard week, but I am coming up the other side. I am reminded today of a God that is the same in Malawi as He is in the States, and of grace. That the Lord looks at me, and truly sees me. He sees my frustrations, my fears, my anxiety….and he sees my heart and my hopes and my dreams. He knows all of these things, and he CARES. He has called us here in this season. And in a lot of ways it is different from the States. But in a lot of ways it isn’t too terribly uncomfortable. But he has called us here, and asked us to be faithful. And being faithful does not always means that it will be enjoyable. It doesn’t always mean that things will be set up in a way that is super fun or convenient for us. But it does mean choosing to walk with Him each step of the way. When Norah has a melt down in the middle of the shop, I can choose to surrender it to Christ. To surrender my discomfort, and my cultural anxiety, and choose to serve Him in that moment by loving my child in a selfless way. For now, for me, that is what being faithful to Him looks like. He has called our family here, and my primary role right now is as a wife and a mother, so I will continue to press in to learning what it means to be faithful to Him in those things. No matter where we are.