"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9
After returning from the United States, I have to admit that it took me a while to readjust to my every day life in the Canary Islands. The girls and I had a great visit with our family and friends, and coming home was a bit of a let down as we got back into the daily routine of home school, home keeping, and ministry.
Our small church had lost a few people in the past several months, for various reasons. Some left to find work elsewhere, as we still suffer a 30% unemployment rate, and it is especially difficult for immigrants to find permanent jobs. Others leave because they simply lose interest in the things of God and choose a different path, or Christians leave to go to a different church that offers more of what they are looking for in a church.
Whatever the reason, as a missionary wife, it is never easy when people leave. Sometimes there is a temptation to take it personally. You question yourself, wondering if you did or said something wrong to offend the person, or maybe you could have done more to meet their needs. One thing the Lord has been teaching me is that part of the ministry is learning that people will come and go, and it is our responsibility to help them as much as we can while we are discipling them, but don't beat yourself up when they do choose to leave. We do what we can to show them love, care, and truth--but when for some reason they decide to depart and go elsewhere we have to learn from our mistakes (or try to learn what we can do to better serve the people the Lord has committed to our shepherding), yet continue to plow so as not to be discouraged in the work. It is the nature of the ministry that people will come and go and you must learn how to accept that in a positive, constructive manner that helps you become more effective in ministry.
For me, it was learning more about what is expected of me in my role as a missionary wife, and what expectations are realistic, and what expectations I was placing on myself that really are imagined or impossible to achieve--you have to realize that we can not meet everyone else's expectations and needs. For example, we imagine that they didn't "like" us or my husband's preaching style, or we should have called more often, showed them more attention, etc. I can not think of too many professions where the wife and family is automatically placed in the "fishbowl" of public opinion like they are in the pastorate and missionary life--with the exception of politicians and celebrities.
As I was suffering a bit of discouragement, the Lord spoke to my heart about not growing weary in well doing, and to keep on going in our efforts to reach people despite what seems to be an impossible task. One Sunday morning we arrived at church, and I began doubting that anyone new would come, and started to doubt why we were even here, as if it was a waste of our time. That very morning a lady from Cuba came in--and at the end was very joyful, saying she was going to bring her daughter and husband next week. Sometimes you are almost surprised when God answers your prayers. Since then several new visitors have come, and the Lord knows just what you need, and when you need it, to keep you pressing forward. By God's grace, I am learning to embrace my role as a missionary/pastor's wife and enjoy helping other women in our church become better Christians, wives, and mothers.