Revelations of a Missionary Wife

I just finished reading a book called In the Presence of My Enemies, written by Gracia Burnham about she and her husband Martin’s year of captivity in 2001 in the jungles of the Philippines.  They had been missionaries there for fifteen years, and Martin was a pilot to several of the islands, flying goods and supplies out to missionaries working with tribes in remote areas.


Martin and Gracia decided to celebrate their eighteenth wedding anniversary by staying at a resort for one night, but they ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That night, members of an extremist Muslim group called the Abu Sayyaf broke into the resort, and took several people hostage, including Martin and Gracia.

They spent the next year in the jungle, being forced to move from place to place as the Filipino army tried to attack the Abu Sayyaf and release the hostages.  They were exhausted, starving, and sometimes their faith faltered.

I picked up the book at my friend Edith’s house, here in Uganda.  We were over for lunch, and I was checking out her books.  After reading the back, I realized that I had briefly heard their story several years ago, and started reading the beginning of the book.  As I read about how they met in college in Kansas City, decided to pursue missions, and trained and moved to the Philippines, I was hooked.  I asked if I could borrow the book, and over the next week and a half, read the entire thing.

I got really excited when she wrote about how she and Martin, on their way down to Arkansas to see Gracia’s family, stopped in Springfield and ate at the Battlefield McDonalds.  Later in the book, she tells one of the other hostages about Silver Dollar City.  Whenever something about the Springfield area would come up, I would excitedly tell my teammates about it.  It was so cool to get a little taste of home, even all the way in Uganda.

I happened to read the end of the book when Angela, Rachel, Cheyanne and I had left the boys, including Josh, at home to join another team who is close by for a girls’ night.  We did the classic (but not too stereotypical) girls’ night activities-a delicious dinner, fresh baked cookies, played a game, and watched a movie.  I was getting tired, so I left the movie early to go to bed. 

As I laid on my sleeping pad, trying not to wake the other girls with the light of my headlamp, I read about (SPOILER ALERT) the Filipino army’s botched attempt at rescuing them, and Martin’s death.  Although I already knew the outcome, it was still hard to read, especially on a night that I was spending away from Josh.

I realize that spending a night away from your husband is nothing to actually losing him, but in that moment, as I read Gracia’s account of losing her best friend to senseless violence, it hit me in a way that I didn’t expect.  I cried as I read about how she was loaded in the helicopter, and had to leave Martin’s body in the jungle because of the severity of the wounds she sustained.

The next morning, I could not wait to get back to Josh.  As I read about one woman’s loss of her husband, I remembered how thankful I am for mine.

Many people ask me, “What is the hardest part about being married on the World Race?”  My honest answer is being around your spouse 24/7.  That’s just not what we were used to in the States, so sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes we need time apart to make our time together better.

Even though it is challenging, I hadn’t realized how dependent I had become on being around each other so much.  When the men and women separated for the month in Thailand, leaving Josh at the airport was one of the hardest things I’ve done.  We spent the month in opposite sides of the country, more than 25 hours of travel apart.

All month, I felt like a piece of myself was missing.  I know that’s so cliche, but it really was true.  I just didn’t feel like myself.  It’s interesting that just myself no longer feels like myself.  It’s that whole two become one flesh thing, like Jesus said.

I highly recommend reading In the Presence of My Enemies.  It’s a story about faith through trials, and how the love of two people for each other, as well as the love of the Lord, kept them going through difficult times.  It’s also a wonderful tribute to Martin, and it is inspiring to read about how they both live(d) their lives.

Gracia now lives in the States, and travels for speaking arrangements, and has also written another book To Fly Again.  She has made telling their story her ministry, and encourages countless people around the world through it. 

Of course I love this, since I believe in the power of story.  Jesus can take something as horrible as a year in captivity, and the loss of a spouse, and turn it into something beautiful.  In my case, it was remembering how much I cherish and admire Josh, and how I am so thankful to be living this life alongside him.

Image(Josh and I at the Great Rift Valley in Kenya)



Bebe Fever Part 2

Today, we volunteered at Sanyu Babies’ Home, and it was probably my favorite day of ministry on the World Race.

When we arrived, we had a short orientation with one of the administrators, who had the quietest voice I’ve ever heard.  If you’ve seen the movie pitch perfect, it reminded me of the Asian girl, haha.

After our orientation, we headed inside to the main building.  As soon as I walked through the door, there were babies everywhere.  They had just woken up, and the staff and volunteers were bathing and feeding them.  One little guy, Felix, was about to crawl out the door, so I grabbed his hand, helped him up onto his shaky feet, and led him away from the door.

I thought we were going to tour the home first, but then someone asked me, “Do you want to feed some babies?”

“Sure.”  I said.  As I was waiting for the next baby to be brought in, I sat on the ground, and Felix crawled right over to me, grabbed my shoulder to pull himself up, and gave me a huge hug.

My heart just melted.  After all of the baby fever that I’ve had lately, I felt so known by the Lord, that He knew we were going to be there on that day, that literally right after stepping in the door, I would get a big baby hug, and that it was exactly what my heart needed.


Felix was taken to go to the playroom, and another baby, Daniel, was brought out, and given to me to feed him.  He was probably 4 months old or so, and as he drank his bottle, I was taken back to my nannying days, when I would sit and feed 6 month old Finley.

After Daniel ate, since he was one of the littlest babies, he was put back in his crib for a nap.  I headed over to the playroom, which was filled with babies, toys, staff, and volunteers.  When I sat down on the floor, immediately two babies came right over, and gave me hugs.  We spent the next few minutes playing, but then I was asked to help mop the floor in the main house.  I went to help mop, and then went back to the playroom as soon as I could.


I played with the babies for a few hours, and a few of them really captured my heart.  Vivian, one of the older babies, loved to point to everything.  She’s one and a half, and when she was reprimanded by one of the staff for hitting me, she dissolved into a toddler tantrum on the floor.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Helen was one of the smallest in size, but she has a big personality.  Duncan loves to cuddle, and after I fed him, he stayed in my lap for about an hour.  They kept stealing the glasses off of my face, and I had to hide them a few times behind my back.  They would get really perplexed when the glasses just “disappeared”.

After that, we took the babies outside, to play.  They have a play yard, but the staff wanted to bring them outside the gate so they could see the outside world.  Which was a bit stressful for me because the road was ten feet away with mutatus and bodas whizzing by.  Most of the babies just sat on the mat and watched, but a few were adventurous and wanted to explore.  I put myself in charge of making sure the runaways didn’t actually run (or crawl, lol) away.

When it was time to go inside, I grabbed a little girl with an adorable pink dress.  As I was carrying her inside, I started smelling something really awful.  I thought it was something from outside, which wouldn’t be that surprising because I’ve smelled some pretty bad stuff around the world.

I kept smelling it, and I was like, “Man, that is really bad.”  It didn’t smell like a poopy diaper, though.  That’s when I realized my armpit was totally soaked.  I knew I couldn’t have sweat that much, especially on just one side, and then I saw that her dress was covered in vomit.  Not spit up.  Full blown chunks.  I’m not a reactive puker, but I gagged and had to try really hard not to vomit myself.  And, of course, I hadn’t thought to bring an extra shirt.

“Ummm, I think she needs a change of clothes,” I told one of the staff.  They were getting ready to eat lunch, so we just took her dress off, and she would have a bath after eating.  We also got to help feed the babies their lunch, which was some kind of rice and corn mixture.


As they were finishing up lunch, it was time for our team to head out.  We were tired and stinky, but we all loved it.  It was such a blessing for me, and it really spoke to my heart.

Sanyu Babies’ Home has been around for over 80 years, and is one of the top orphanages in Uganda.  It was started when a woman who worked at the hospital realized that there were so many babies who were orphaned or unwanted, so she established a home that would love and care for the babies.  They stay there until they are 4, and then they are transferred to one of two partnering orphanages.

And, for the icing on top of the cake, tonight as my team and I were doing listening prayer (prayer where you sit and listen for what the Lord is saying rather than just talking at Him), He spoke to me about babies.

As I was listening, my mind was wandering a bit, and it wandered to the babies, and how much fun and how natural and at home I felt with them.  Before the question had even formed in my mind, I heard Him say, “You will.”  As in, you will be a mom.

And my heart was at peace.


Not Dengue Fever…Bebe Fever

I know that I said, in a blog post a few months ago, that I was totally cool with this season of being babyless.  But, the fact of the matter is, as the end of the World Race draws near, our fourth anniversary comes up next month, and I see more and more friends having babies on Facebook, it is just hard.

I’ve always had the desire to be a mom, and as I see people around me having them, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like. 

I am definitely thankful that right now, I’m sitting in Kampala, Uganda, in a house called the Jesus House, that is the office of an organization that gets village children sponsored and fights child sacrifice.  I wouldn’t trade this, and all the other experiences we’ve had on the Race, for anything, but maaaaybe for the chance to be a mom.  But really, I wouldn’t.

I guess I’ve just been thinking about it a lot lately, after seeing all of the mother’s day posts, and especially since tomorrow we are going to work in a babies’ home.  Yep, tomorrow, we get to bathe, feed, change, and cuddle babies, at Sanyu Babies’ Home.

Although they are not my babies, I will take what I can get, haha.  Thank You, Lord, for giving me these Ugandan babies that have no moms, so I can be a mom to them, at least for a few hours.  I will try to wait patiently until You bring Josh and I into the season of being parents.  😉