I love that soap commercial that says “having a baby changes everything.” Any mama knows it’s true. I quickly found that my baby would not only change my life and the focus of my ministry, but that my little 7-pound screaming bundle would change the receptiveness of those to whom I was hoping to minister.
When we first moved here to Eastern Congo, we had no power. Beyond the everyday stress of changing diapers in the dark, I had to learn just how long meat and veggies would last without refrigeration. Not long, it turns out. Without a means to keep food cold, I had to shop in the open air market every couple of days. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but I quickly found that people here were more suspicious than receptive of me; and even though I knew the local trade language, they simply didn’t know what to do with this white lady shopping around their market. So every few days I’d go to the market and get ridiculed and mocked and end up coming home in tears. For three months I cried every day I had to go to the market. One day I finally got brave enough to take my 5-month-old baby with me to buy my veggies. I was scared to death to take her, but we needed food and I didn’t have anyone to watch her, so I tied her on my back in the local style, held my tears back, and went in. This time I was the one who didn’t know what to do with the people in the market. Instead of mocking and laughing, I heard clucks of approval and acceptance. I wasn’t a foreigner anymore; I was a wife and mommy, just trying to make it through the day and feed my children. Within a week, mockery and ridicule turned to defense and friendship.
Children truly are the great equalizer. Every mommy in the world worries about protecting her babies, feeding them well, educating them, raising them right. God not only gives us children as our primary ministry, but also to make ministry possible. It’s true, you know. Having a baby changes everything.
Lovely post! So glad things are getting better. Working cross-culturally can be very emotionally draining. Yay for babies that bring friends. : )
It is true! I’m in west DRC and my youngest baby is ten years old, but he has flaming red hair so he still draws a lot of attention and comments when I take him out with me. It creates opportunities for conversation. Somehow having a child must make me seem less threatening as a foreigner.
Soooo true! The funniest time I did that was when I was carrying our firstborn face out because she liked to see what was going on (she was about 4 months old). I had several ladies at the market tell me I was a bad mother. They turned her around and then patted my back in affirmation 🙂 I never had a time when I had a baby or toddler that I was not treated respectfully.
We really enjoyed this blog! Can’t wait to read more 🙂