A major DOWN in the
Ups, Downs, and All Arounds of Living in Peru
A week ago, we had some visitors here at our campus and we shared breakfast with them. They asked a lot of really difficult questions, but the one that was hardest for me to answer was, “How do you balance family and ministry?’ I looked him right in the eye and said,
“I don’t know. I don’t think I do.”
Balance in ministry is hard for basically everyone, I think. I’m a pastor’s daughter and I saw my dad have a very hard time balancing family life and church ministry. Looking back over the past 30-odd years, I’m 100% positive my dad knows now that he didn’t balance it all that well. He’s worked hard on changing that in the last few years and we’ve all been grateful for that (my mom especially).
So, maybe I can say I don’t have the best example of balance in family and ministry. But, I don’t think I can blame it all on my father. Truth be told, there’s no one to blame it on – it just is what it is.
In this post, I can’t talk for all of Peru; I can only talk about where I am specifically. Here, the missionaries that have been around the longest have just automatically taken their kids with them to everything they do. Their kids are an integral part of their lives and their ministry and, really, there is no separation between family life and ministry. In some ways – this is genius. The kids here have grown up knowing what ministry is and they know that even children can have a role in ministry. They know what serving the Lord is and they have grown up with a love for the Lord and an appreciation for what their parents do. I went to a Bible school that was full of missionary kids and many of them had grown up in boarding schools and weren’t very familiar with what their parents did and hadn’t been involved in their parents’ ministries – and many of them were not walking with the Lord. So, I think in many ways the kids being involved in ministry here is a wonderful idea.
- What do you do when your kids are little and need you 24/7?
- What do you do when your ministry is from 9-5 and you have no sitter for half of that and yet you need to get a ton of work done?
- What do you do when you need to travel, but your kids are little and need a schedule?
- What do you do when you have a weekend event and no babysitter, but you’re expected to be up front and active the entire 48 hours?
These are just some of the questions I ask myself on a regular basis. I, personally, find it almost impossible to balance my life with my daughter and my life in the school. If I’m in the school, I can’t give all my attention to my daughter and I have to focus on teaching. If I’m at home, then obviously I’m not teaching at all and giving all my attention to my child and no attention (except lesson planning, etc) on the school. If we have an afternoon where our sitter is gone, then we have to figure out how to handle it – either I don’t work and take care of the baby or Brian doesn’t work and takes care of the baby. Last week, if Elena hadn’t been sick, I would’ve missed three days of school because of my sitter being gone. That’s a chunk of time! But, I can’t expect my husband to just stay home, either, because he has his own responsibilities (and more of them than I have).
So… how do you balance??
I still have no idea.
I’m saying “no” more often and I’m being honest with the parents I teach for, telling them that I’m at my limit and can’t add anymore students or be expected to do anymore work until I get full-time help. But it still doesn’t fix the problem of all the responsibilities that I have while I wait for full-time help.
Yes, family should be involved in what you do. I know there are varying views behind this, but I, personally, don’t think kids should be sent off to boarding schools – I think they should be with their parents and see what they do and be a part of their lives. But, I also believe there comes a point where priorities change and how you do ministry also changes.
I think we’re at that point and some days, that frustrates me. I want to be a missionary – I want to do ministry! I would like to do what I do better than I’m doing it now. But then… I want more kids. I can’t just wait to have children because I’m a missionary right now. I think that’s totally against God’s plan for anyone. I don’t want to be hindered by my children, but I think it also means that some things must change.
My earnest prayer right now is for someone to come help full-time. Here’s my list of needs:
- Someone who views the school as a ministry, not a job.
- Someone who is committed to working with the kids and investing in them.
- Someone who speaks Spanish and English. The Spanish can be minimal, but they should have a general knowledge of Spanish.
- Someone who can commit to a school year (at least) at a time – April to November.