A Woman of Grace

Our week has tempted me to see only distractions and frustrations, but upon review with a thankful heart, the little milestones reached pop up.

Rather than my usual one lesson a week—translating the children’s Sunday School lesson into Tsonga, I had two lessons to prepare for, as we’re planning our first ladies’ meeting of the year tomorrow. The ladies from the three Baptist churches in our area try to meet once a month in Mashamba village for a two-hour Bible study. Anytime I teach for this group, called Vomanana va Tintswalo (Women of Grace, or specifically,  Mothers of Grace), I feel the stress of preparing a good lesson, then trying to get it into “good,” clear Tsonga.

Perhaps that stress underlying my other duties made me a bit more snappish as I tried to rush the children through their lessons and tasks this week. Guess I felt more like a Monster of Grace? Or maybe you can relate, if not in whole, at least in part to these scenarios:

1.    Multi-tasking. Trying to multi-task. Get Caleb going on his handwriting paper, then do 15 minutes of preschool work with Colin. Almost done instructing Caleb on the new cursive letter of the day, got Colin “graphing,” (he counts objects in a picture, then puts that many manipulatives, like Cheerios, in the boxes—he needs help with this or he just does his own thing, meaning 20 manipulatives on this graph of 2 objects…) when nature calls. Suddenly. “Keep working!” I call as I run away.

I’m in there just long enough to be at the point of no return when Callie starts hollering. She was snacking…I assume she’s trying to get out of her booster seat and got stuck. She does that. I hear Colin start shouting at Caleb; Caleb’s now refuting loudly. “Help Callie!” I try to shout through the door over two loud boys, so I know it had better be a concise command. Did I hear other sounds out there as well?

Ah. Yes, my missionary mama ears decipher two other continuous sounds as I emerge from my momentary retreat. The chaos has awoken Carson, who is now pulling himself up precariously in his bed, planting his face between the rungs, and crying until taken out. Junk. I had hoped for another hour from him.

And the other sound is “Ndzhawini.” (Tsonga for “in the place.”) An African has come calling and is announcing himself. Continuous is the correct adjective for both Carson’s crying and an African’s “knocking.” Continuous means “constant, unbroken,” like the roar of machinery. Continual means “happening again and again at certain intervals,” like a dripping faucet. (For you homeschoolers, I always remember them by the –al ending in continual/interval. Hope that helps. ;)) How many times have I told them to knock ONE time and then wait. I WILL come. Sigh. And why do they always have to come when my house is anything but a testimony to the peaceable perfection of Christ??

The next 20 minutes, I help the visitors one-handed holding Carson on my hip with the other hand, trying to ignore the un-schooling sounds going on in the other room. They’ve come about Bibles they’re trying to sell to raise money for tuition to attend our Bible institute. I later instruct my husband in probably not-so-meek-quiet-cheerful tones that he really needs to be here to help this guy the next time he comes, since I’ve helped him the last two times, and every time it involves a call to Seth to sort out the details.

They leave just as the rain starts. Another sigh. I have laundry up on the line. Groan. I just realize this is going to interrupt homeschooling for another 20 minutes while I rescue the drying laundry from re-damping. I can’t expect a preschooler to graph for 40 minutes by himself, can I? Especially when he’s already eaten his manipulatives?

2.    Multi-mistaking. That was Tuesday. Yesterday, I tried to homeschool while my husband laid tile with another man in the children’s room. I would not call our house large. As I hung three loads of laundry for the third time that night (in the garage that time—I could not have guessed more wrongly about the laundry/weather on Thursday every single step of the way), I just about lost my sanity temporarily when I plucked something off my sweaty neck and, behold, a spider. All I could think about was how much I had to do (have you ever tried to prepare a Bible lesson in another language with 4 small children milling around while your husband and another man tile in the next room?), and how much had gone wrong that day in the housekeeping department!

3.    Multi-messing. I braved fingerpainting twice this week. Today I cut it short, of course graciously, when Colin dug both hands into the small can of new purple fingerpaint received from a beloved American friend this Christmas, splooshing it all out after just one usage. Caleb, unsure what to do with his disturbed emotions at my “gracious” spirit in reprimanding Colin, started to shake his hands worriedly. Yellow fingerpaint went flying. Then, while trying to save some purple paint, in one second of unnoticed cluelessness, Callie taught herself a physics lesson on gravity by turning the orange paint can upside down.

That’s enough examples for now. I still don’t have my women’s lesson done. And my children are still sleeping in the bathroom. 🙂 But the good points of the week shine through. I have tile in the children’s room! (Mostly—we ran out.) Our last room in the house that didn’t have tile! Caleb finished his first reader—his first real book! He also finished his first unit in math (10 lessons). He’s actually done with 11 lessons this week. We’re celebrating with ice cream tonight. Any excuse for ice cream, right? And right now, the children are shouting at the top of their lungs in the sandbox, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart!” Yes, some things are going pretty well.

Caleb made a sticker book about Moses and the ten plagues for history this week. Rather, I called it a sticker book, but we don’t have cool sticker-printer paper or whatever you call it, so he just colored, cut, and pasted. He actually colored and cut twice, since he didn’t put his project away, and his brother hijacked the first one. 😦

Caleb's "sticker" project. Notice the pile of laundry in the background waiting to be re-hung.

Caleb’s “sticker” project. Notice the pile of laundry in the background waiting to be re-hung.

We started a new unit in science on the 3rd day of creation. Here’s Caleb sorting the rocks he collected.


Callie found her shoe. This is a miracle. All week there’s been one. Now there are two.

Poor Carson. When will I learn to always put mosquito repellant on the kids? I thought him being in a long-sleeved sleeper on a chilly night with the windows shut would be enough.

The Welt-Trained Mind.

The Welt-Trained Mind.

Literally climbing the walls this week.

Literally climbing the walls this week.

Your prayers that I would truly be a “Woman of Grace” would be greatly appreciated!

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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3 Responses to A Woman of Grace

  1. Ann Bedford says:

    All I can say is , “Oh my!” Thanking God for my peaceful life that I didn’t even realize was peaceful until I read your post.

  2. Debi Morrison says:

    Oh wow, Amy. As I sit here laughing with only me home, I do so respect everything you are doing for the Lord. There always seem to be, “those days” but God gives grace and we make it through. You are an amazing young woman!

  3. Christie says:

    All I can say is… I loved this post. Thank you so much for writing it all out for us.

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