I’ve been debating for four months about traveling to Uruguay in October with some people from my church. We know some incredible missionaries down there whom our church visits each year to do ministry alongside them via service projects and relationship building with non-believing Uruguayans.
Back in March I was pretty set on going. I’d never been on a foreign mission trip. I wanted to get out of my daily life and experience God in a fresh way. I wanted to take a break from thinking about myself and serve others. I wanted to learn about ministry at the feet of some seasoned missionaries. And, selfishly, I wanted to go on a a trip where I could avoid third world countries and having to run a Vacation Bible School for a millionty kids.
Of all the trips my church takes, the Uruguay trip seemed like the best fit for me. In March I made the decision to go on the trip.
By mid-May I had all but forgotten about the trip until someone asked me if I was still planning on going… some unsettled feelings began to stir in me. I couldn’t pinpoint why, but I found myself not wanting to go at all. I thought that was odd given my enthusiasm only 6 weeks prior, but I couldn’t shake the feeling. The “deadline” for signing up for the trip was June 1st. (I use quotes because, at least at my church, deadlines are “suggestions” :).)
I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything. June 1st came and went. God didn’t do anything drastic to let me know He was disappointed in me… and He didn’t do anything drastic to let me know He was happy with me…
I began to tell people I wasn’t going. When they inquired why not, all I could say was, “I just don’t want to.” I felt totally out of character, still unable to recognize where my emotions were coming from. Over the next couple of weeks, though, God was kind enough to make sense of things for me.
I was able to narrow down that the underlying reason I didn’t want to go was my youngest child, Allie. She will be three years old next month, thus, she will be three years old at the time of the trip in October. She is a mommy’s girl if ever there was one. She is quite dependent on me emotionally, and I just began to get nervous that she would be heart-broken if I left her for 12 days.
To be clear, I have left this child before. Elian and I have gone out of town a few times without her for several nights; she spends the night with grandparents on occasion; she is cared for by nursery workers/grandparents/aunts and uncles for several hours six days/week. In other words, I don’t have a problem detaching from her :).
Allie, on the other hand, still cries every time I drop her off at nursery (3x/wk). When we are together, she is rarely more than 4 feet from me. She does play independently from time to time, but only if she is sure I am not going anywhere soon – i.e., I don’t have my shoes on or my purse in hand. She makes sure to make physical contact with me about every five minutes.
So you see my dilemma.
I am concerned that her little three year old brain won’t be able to process I haven’t totally abandoned her if I am gone for 12 full days.
That led me to a discussion with my husband and several friends about my responsibility as Allie’s mother. I got some conflicting opinions from, “She’ll be fine, just go,” to “Your primary responsibility is to Allie and her well-being, not to reach the world at the expense of your children.”
Ultimately, though, I needed to find out what God thought I should do. So I asked Him. And He was faithful to answer.
He told me this is not the time to go on a foreign mission trip. He said Allie is precious to Him, and He’d take good care of her whether I went to Uruguay or not, but He wants me to be the vessel through which He cares for her right now. He encouraged me, that though my children’s preschool years feel like an eternity, they are short, and there will soon come a time when the girls are old enough to do without me for 2 weeks. This, however, is not that time. They are too young and need their mama.
Not all mothers of preschoolers may come to the same conclusion I have. And that’s ok. Every child, every family, every situation is different. But I am at peace with what the Lord has confirmed to me today, and I am so thankful He is willing and able to speak directly to and with me about such things.