06 October 2012

A 31 Day Grand Prix {day 6} ~ Is there time to {gently} home school and be a missionary, too?

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." I Peter 3.3-6

When my family first arrived on the mission field, we had four children, ranging in age from 5 ½ to 7 months.

I had three primary goals:
1. help me and my family adjust and figure out how to survive in this very different and foreign land;
2. home school my oldest two children; and
3. learn to speak Zarma, the local language.

I figured that within a few weeks… maybe two months, I’d have a good enough routine down to start intensive language study. After all, I’d just spent 15 months learning French, exploring cooking from scratch, home schooling one plus having/caring for a newborn. I’d even have house help…

Should have been a piece of cake, right?

Boy was I wrong!

Have any of you been there, too?

Home schooling is a challenge anywhere on this globe we’d try and to it. There are, however, particular challenges unique to expat parents home schooling their children. One of those struggles is figuring out how to manage time so that what's important gets the time and attention it requires.

As I tried... and failed miserably... to live up to my expectations for what I would and would not accomplish, I morphed into a really miserable person to live with. My temper was short and my expectations for others were next to impossible to achieve as well. I yelled about the little things then found myself wasting time doing unimportant things because I tired of never meeting my goal. There was nothing in me that even remotely resembled a gentle and quiet spirit.

For the good of my family and my own sanity, I knew something had to change, starting immediately.

Many reasons why made their way on to my list, but the long and short of it was that something I’d looked forward to doing from the moment I first learned I was pregnant with my oldest, something which I’d loved and which had come easily and naturally up to that point, suddenly became overwhelming and cumbersome. I could not consistently find the time to actually get to home schooling.

I was well prepared, at least as far as dealing with the educational side of things; I had a master’s degree in special education. I was used to individualizing education, identifying the most critical things for a student to learn, figuring out students’ learning styles and the most effective way to teach utilizing that information... In short, personalizing an academic plan to capitalize on the strengths of a particular student while at the same time addressing specific weaknesses and areas of struggle was exactly what I had trained to do. I knew all sorts of tricks to manage and modify behavior and I could write clear and specific goals and objectives with hardly a second thought. I’d spent hours researching and purchasing the curriculum I wanted to use and I loved it. On top of that, I tend to be a driven personality who most always accomplishes what I set out to do. 

Except, evidently, home schooling while on the mission field. 

Home schooling just wasn’t working… for a myriad of reasons:
  • I never dreamed how the oppressive heat would drain my energy… my typical get up and go got up and hightailed itself right outta there.
  • EVERYTHING takes longer. (Bread baked, fruits and vegetables bleached, water filtered, ice cubes made, laundry hung,...).
  • Menus never worked or abruptly forced to change because something simple, like butter… or kidney beans… or eggs… or flour… wasn't available when I went shopping.
  • Trips into town always took much longer than expected.
  • People continually stopped by to say hi… wanting to visit (including those wanting to practice English or to giggle as I stumbled my way through the Zarma greetings)… wanting to meet the foreign family with all those little blondies… hoping we might have their medical answers for sickness in their family… needing food, clothes, money or some other type of help… looking for work… and that list could easily go on.
  • Just keeping the desert from moving in and taking over the house was a full time job in and of itself.
  • Learning a new culture and a whole new way of doing almost everything in a second (or third) language is not just physically exhausting; it drains and empties mentally and emotionally, too.
All of my plans and thoughts for what life, ministry and particularly home schooling in Niger would look like desperately needed major overhauling. There just were not enough hours in the day to accomplish daily living… How in the world could I fit home schooling and then ministry on top of that?

Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
- Henry Van Dyke

I began by asking myself some questions...
  1. What do I know about me?
  2. What do I about my family?
  3. What do I know about God?
  4. What things are imperative and without wiggle room?
  5. What do I expect my home school to look like? Is this realistic?
  6. Are all of those factors compatible? If not what needs to go?
  7. What do I need to change to love and care for my family with a gentle and quiet spirit?
(To be continued... tomorrow!)


  1. I love the title of these posts. It's the same question I've been asking myself lately... :-) God's grace to us!

  2. Hi, Richelle, I just commented on Part one of this post (I think!) Is it okay with you if I use your title (modified) "Is there time to homeschool and be a missionary too?" on a blog post? I would link it back to your blog. This title is kind of what I have been wondering about myself!

    1. sorry i didn't get back to you right away - we were at a softball tourney all weekend! no problem, feel free to use whatever. appreciate that you've asked.

      drop me a note when you've written... i'd love to see what you have to say.


Stop in for a chat! I love to hear what you have to say ~


Related Posts with Thumbnails