The Greater Good: Families in Mission
By Kristen Leigha Weiss
It’s amazing how becoming a mother changes the way I perceive the world. Maybe it’s the way I grew up, but I feel as if I have truly turned into my mother, and I now see everything as being full of GERMS! I have been a missionary since 2006 and never really put much thought into getting sick while on missions, mainly because I was willing and prepared to suffer for the Gospel and sickness seemed like a small sacrifice in order to share the Good News of the Gospel on the mission field. I have been in missions in Mexico, Spain, and India, and I suffered sickness in each of these missions.
When we were leaving for Mexico 3 weeks ago, I was thrilled and excited to return to my first mission base, the place I met my husband, and where the Lord first captured my heart for missions. I was so excited for Edmond to fall in love with General Cepeda as both Jonathan and I had and for everyone here to fall in love with him. Although we have not been on missions in over two years I didn’t think twice about coming or about not being prepared; after all I had lived here for a year and knew everything there was to know about the mission here. Boy was I unprepared for the lessons the Lord has in store for me. Boy was I unprepared for the lessons the Lord had in store for me.
We have been living in community since Edmond was 5 months old, so I am used to people wanting to hold him and play with him, and I was pretty much prepared for that to be the case in General Cepeda as well; but when it came time to share him, I didn’t want to, for fear of him getting sick or hurt.
Our first day here some of the people in our group were sick with a virus, and we were told that there was also one going around town, and I didn’t want Edmond to catch it. Almost immediately upon our arrival, my mind was full of fears and worries about Edmond’s health and wellbeing. I was completely ready to suffer with sickness, but I wasn’t ready to submit my son to it. Edmond is an extremely active 8-month old. He loves to crawl on the floor and put everything that he finds in his mouth. For those of you who don’t know, the Casa de Misiones (the mission house) in General is basically open to all the elements, the floors are always dirty and dusty, mainly because we live in the desert. We have birds living in the ceilings of the courtyard, where we spend a lot of time, not to mention all the random people always coming in and out of the house, which is already overflowing with over 50 people. Needless to say GERMS are everywhere!
Edmond sticks out quiet a bit here in Mexico, and everyone wants to touch his fair skin and pat his blond hair as they grab his face and comment on how strikingly beautiful his bright blue eyes are. It was really hard to let everyone touch him and hold him.
At one point during our first day here there were some kids playing in the patio, some I knew and some I didn’t. A young girl about 13 or 14 years old just walked straight up to me and without asking she took Edmond out of my arms, while I was talking with Jonathan. At first I was really bothered but as I watched her with him I knew he was in good hands and I realized how silly my reaction was. Edmond didn’t seem the least bit bothered as she sat there holding and playing with him. I could see just how much joy it brought her to be able to hold him and make him laugh. I gently told her not to let him put his hands in her mouth and not to put hers in his, to which she nodded yes with a smile that almost said “duh”.
And then in the ranchos the little old ladies all wanted to hold him and a few would just take him without asking, or if they did ask they would not really wait for a response. This was very hard for me and I realized this was just their culture.
After this experience I was taking a walk with one of my mission sisters, who is also a mom. I shared with her the fears I was having and all the things that were occupying my mind. She said something that really helps is to ask herself, “What’s the greater good? Is the greater good having your way, and being fearful, or to bless those around you?” As I began praying about this I realized I had taken back all the control I had given God, and He was no longer in charge, I was. If God was calling Jonathan and I into missions then He was calling Edmond into missions as well. We are a family in missions and that means that Edmond is just as much a missionary as we are, and that when I let my fears keep him from proclaiming the Gospel with his smiles, coos and laughter, I am robbing the people of General Cepeda and the outlying ranchos we visit from the joy and happiness Edmond brings as a little missionary.
I felt as if God was asking me, “Who do you put first? Me or your family? Do you not trust Me to take care of Edmond as I took care of you in missions? Is he not my son first? Do I not have his best interests in mind?” I had to come to terms with the fact that I can only protect Edmond or any future children that the Lord chooses to give us to a certain extent, and if I was willing to suffer for the Gospel then I had to be prepared to allow my children this gift and sacrifice as well.
I felt like God was asking me to open my eyes to the beauty that was around me, to stop seeing everything as germs and sickness, especially the people, but as hearts and souls that He was asking us to love and care for. I had to learn to let go and give back to God what is rightfully His and to live into the freedom that is a life lived totally surrendered to His good will!
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