What does a missionary mom experience when she’s 8,000 miles away from the rest of her family and her newest child needs to be hospitalized for four days? Kayt Spencer, a SSMF missionary who serves in Taiwan with her husband Kalan and two very young children, reveals the crucial lessons she learned.
Since starting our family in Taiwan, I’ve often lamented, “It would be so much easier to have kids if we lived near family.” (For the record, this is true. You can’t beat grandparents!)
But about a month ago Kalan gently pointed out that I often use this phrase as an excuse to throw myself a little pity party.
“Kayt, God has called our family to live in Taiwan. It is hard, but using this little phrase to complain just makes it harder. It sounds like you don’t want to accept the work God’s given you to do. Do you think you should keep saying it?”
I wasn’t ready to hear that.
So you can imagine what I was thinking when Jude was admitted to the hospital a couple weeks ago. Those four days may have been my most stressful and exhausting experience yet as a parent.
Then, just a few days after we returned home, we all got the stomach flu.
But somehow God’s been using this chaos and sleeplessness to teach me a few things.
First, He showed me that we do have family here.
The evening we were admitted to the hospital, our church family started to pray for us. Over the next few days, they came to visit, brought meals/toys/coffee/baby snacks, subbed for Kalan’s classes, folded our laundry, and watched/fed/ even bathed our daughter.
Second, God showed me that even when I felt alone, He was taking care of us.
The first night I told the nurse there wasn’t any toilet paper or soap. She chuckled and said, “This is a city hospital; you need to prepare those things yourself.” Kalan was home with our sleeping 2-year-old, my phone was nearly out of minutes, and there was no internet access.
A moment later, an arm holding a packet of tissues popped out from the other side of the curtain. “We can share,” another tired-looking mom said.
Third, the Lord reminded me that He will give me strength I need for the task at hand.
My job is (to borrow from Nike) “just do it.” For example, one morning I told the nurse that Jude’s sheets were dirty. “There’s where we keep the clean ones, and there’s the room for soiled laundry.”
I don’t know why I was so surprised. Well, it turns out that it is physically possible to hold a baby attached to an IV while putting new sheets on a bed.
Fourth, God reminded me that even when I forget Him, He doesn’t forget me.
Like when I came home to shower on the third day and our apartment electricity had been shut off–which meant a warm fridge, laundry half-washed, and no way to update my family in the US. I called Kalan and had a complete meltdown over the phone.
After I hung up, Keira looked at me curiously. “Mama, eyes wet!”
“Yes, Keira, I feel very sad and tired, so I’m crying.”
“Oh. Hmm…Mama pray?”
Nothing’s more humbling than getting a much-needed kick in the pants from your toddler.
We finally prayed and then I called the power company. We had electricity within an hour.
Lastly, God showed me that distance is no obstacle for Him.
We were blessed by our parents, siblings, and church family in the U.S. throughout this ordeal. Many people wrote to us to let us know they were supporting us in prayer. A dermatologist from our home church considered Jude’s case, offered helpful opinions, and explained what was going on in plain English.
Even from across the ocean, God used His people to encourage us.
–God’s given us family around the world.
–He takes care of us when we feel alone.
–He gives us strength to do the work He’s given us.
–He never forgets us, even when we forget Him!
In light of all this, I’ve decided to stop saying, “It would be so much easier if…”
(Heb. 12:1,2) Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…