This week we will feature a different woman from #theFives as she shares her heart with us. In an attempt to break down walls and promote unity among women, we will uncover the real lives of those we haphazardly label and judge.
Here is the story of Stacey McKenzie, a missionary in Ukraine:
“When people hear ‘missionary’ some people assume I am somehow amazing or extra spiritual or make huge sacrifices,” Stacey said.
A life in overseas mission can come with adventure, but is more about faithfully following God’s call beyond traditional comfort zones.
“It is difficult for me to constantly be meeting new people, hosting myriads of people in my home all the time, and making conversations in a foreign language, etc.,” she said. “But this is the way God made me: a more reserved person, an introvert.”
God also has used these traits to make disciples.
“My patience allows me to be a good listener,” Stacey said. “As I get to build meaningful relationships with a few individuals, we are able to be real and open with one another, teaching and discipling on a deeper level. Patience, along with my strong sense of calling to the mission field, keep me moving along even when things are not so exciting or we are not seeing a lot of immediate fruit.”
And yet, life as a missionary is just like everyday life for everyday women.
I think that people forget that I am still a wife and mother. It’s not so glamorous here,” Stacey said. “I still do mountains of laundry, fall behind in cleaning, and cook regular meals. My children still fight with each other and argue or disobey and I still have to pay bills and get reports in on time, etc.”
That’s in addition to learning new languages (spoken Ukrainian and Ukrainian Sign Language — Stacey’s husband is deaf and their ministry reaches out to a population often overlooked by typical missionaries, churches and evangelists), doing administrative work for the Deaf Bible Society, trying to meet people and build relationships and more.
However, Stacey said misconceptions of “missionary life” may limit the way people pray for her, and she greatly values the friends with whom she can share her whole heart and who will pray for her accordingly.
“I know people are praying for us to adjust to the culture, to be kept safe, to learn the language and lead people to Christ and plant churches, etc., but are they praying that I can help my children with their school when its in a foreign language and we are all frustrated, or that I can make a real friend so I won’t feel as lonely, or that I don’t let the stress of day-to-day life in a foreign city and language cause me to become short and irritable with my kids or husband?”
“I desperately need those prayers as well,” she said, adding, “Some days there just aren’t enough hours to get everything done. Some days we are stressed, worried or feel like failures, but other days are amazing. And some how, in this country where I still don’t speak the language, I feel peace and at home.”
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Share your story below.
We hope you can #findyourtribe here with us.
*All stories featured in the#FindYourTribe series were collected and written by Sarah Gooding. We love her so.
Karen Hooper says
You are AMAZING! I want to encourage you in knowing that I will be praying ALL of those things for you from Colorado. My daughter and I travel to Managua, Nicaragua annually to build relationships with and encourage students and staff at Oasis de Esperanza school (built for children who previously had no schooling and whose families lived in the city dump ground). Our friend Jennifer, a staff member in the kitchen, is deaf. One of the most amazing experiences of my 51 years of life was a conversation with Jennifer. As I am sure you are aware, Spanish sign language and English sign language not being the same created extra challenges in our attempt to communicate. It took multiple “translators” for Jennifer and I to have a conversation; an English/Spanish speaker, and two people proficient in English signing and Spanish signing. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I realize my short annual trips can in no way be compared to a life lived in a different country, but your story touched me as a result of my experience in Managua. I am so grateful to you for the work you and your husband are doing. May our perfect Father in Heaven provide for you and your family in the work you are doing and in your day to day trials! “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. Blessings, Karen Hooper
Erica Willis says
Stacey and Chris opened my eyes to a world I truly never thought about. The struggles of being Deaf, let alone the lack of Jesus available to that community. I am inspired by their story every day! I totally agree with you, Karen!