Which Department Please?

Sometimes I’m asked about my role as a missionary wife and I think to myself, “Hmmm . . . it might be difficult to define that role.”   A missionary wife wears many hats but here is a small sampling of my many and diverse functions.

I am an unregistered nurse –  Especially to Stephen when he has been through some very debilitating sicknesses.

I am a unlicensed doctor – I have a book called Where There is No Doctor and with the aid of this book, I have successfully diagnosed and treated Stephen, myself, and others who have come to us seeking medical  assistance.


Helping a mom understand how to care for a fever. Sadly this child died because of superstitions regarding fever.


I am an unlicensed pharmacist – This same book gives suggested medicines and dosages for treatment along with how to substitute if something’s not available.  However, most of what we need is accessible at “pharmacies” – basically on the street.

I am an unlicensed veterinarian – I have treated our own dogs, goats, and chickens as well as other people’s animals with the assistance of another book: Where There is No Vet

I also have the book Where there is No Dentist but I steadfastly drew the line at Where There is No Midwife.  These ladies have been successfully delivering babies for centuries and I decided – they really don’t need my help in that department!

When Stephen is away I am a night security watchman – Armed with a flash light, a machete, and our two dogs, Goodness and Mercy, I must investigate around the compound when the dogs alert me.  People need to see and know that we respond.  What exactly I would do with the machete I don’t know but it makes me feel better to have it.

I am a dietitian – no easy task where our main foods are rice, bulgur wheat, eggs, and dried beans.  If we have bread it’s because I made it.  And if I don’t cook it’s canned beans, sardines, or some such as there are no other options.  Stephen is very understanding those times but I work hard to not do that to him if I can help it.

Often I have to be the handyman’s assistant but I am also an administrative assistant – I make copies, collate pages, and staple lesson outlines; I gather reference materials for Stephen as he prepares lessons; I develop power point presentations for his classes; I handle all the  correspondence and Field Reports; I do what ever he needs to help ease his burden thereby freeing him for teaching and evangelism whether at home or on the circuit.


Cookies and drinks on the Nursery Blanket at church

I am the house keeping department ~

The Sunday School department ~

The agricultural department ~

The art department…

Sometimes when Stephen asks me to do something I answer him by saying that I will inform the appropriate department.  One day he responded with, “You have more departments than the Pentagon and getting through to the correct person is harder than the IRS.”

Juggling my departments is a daunting task at times.  The dietitian might call in sick and not want to cook.  The house keeper might be in a foul mood (very foul).  The art department might have the mistaken notion that they are the only ones with work to do and so nothing else gets done.   Somebody may need the nurse but she just really doesn’t feel like seeing anybody at that moment.   I have departmental squabbles and conflicts on a regular basis but I try to keep them all in line and productively employed.  Besides . . . I really can’t fire any of them anyway.


Pigs in a blanket with vegetable rice salad. The dietician really scored points on this one!

First and foremost, my function and role is that of wife to my dear husband – which it should be for any wife.  It is difficult for me to adequately communicate to you that Stephen and I are all we have. Due to the vast cultural, spiritual, and intellectual differences, there is not a single person he depends on more than me.  That knowledge is a heavy weight at times.  I know I must do my best to be my best for him at all times and in every way.  I am not very successful in this but with the Lord’s help, I’m learning.

At times I found it difficult to block out what other missionary wives do and listen to the Lord for His direction.  I had the perception that I was expected to do certain things.  That notion was partly my own and partly placed in my mind by talking to people while on deputation.  “This is what a missionary wife is and does,” or,  “You will be having such and such type of ministry, won’t you?”  But God is not in a box and each mission work and missionary wife is an individual.  I do not want to imply that we can’t learn from the work of others – that would be foolish – but we should not limit ourselves or feel constrained by what others do or expect of us.

The Lord greatly used Stephen to help define my main function in the work we share in Sierra Leone – Illustrated Evangelism.  This role is quite outside the “typical” expectations for a missionary wife as the illustrations fill a need we could not have understood until actually involved in the work.    As the head of the art department, I try to keep my staff of one up to speed with the ever increasing demand for illustrations.  As the work develops and progresses, Stephen and I are continually coming up with new ideas.  One long-term project currently under development is a wordless evangelistic book for the book of John were we will focus on one major teaching from each chapter; something I’m very excited about


Lettering a cloth scripture sign for public ministry



Most likely, if you were to visit our remote mission compound, you’d find me at home or very nearby.  I don’t often travel out of our village.  So if you need me, just take a number, wait in line, and I’ll direct your request to the correct department – if they’re available!

PS. Don’t let Stephen fool you, he has his departments too.  We both think that the facilities manager and the house keeper ran off together because we can never find them!

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