My name is Heidi K. God prepared me well for the transience of global woman life by moving my family around Minnesota a lot when I was growing up. I loved moving more when I was a child and didn’t have to pack anything, but just watched as all my familiar possessions were arranged in new locations. After 5 years overseas, God is giving me a season of much-needed stability and rootedness while my family lives in Florida and my husband travels back and forth for work.
Andy is a Bible Translation Consultant working with Nigerian languages, and we moved to Nigeria when our boys were 4 and 2. We added a girl to the mix during our furlough, and she was 5 months old when we returned to Nigeria. During our first term, I resented the power shortages, the inability to blend in, the need for house help, and the bargaining in the market. By the end of our time there, I learned to appreciate the slower pace of life that power shortages created. I enjoyed the warm hospitality I received as a foreigner. My house helper became like family to all of us, and I gained confidence in my bargaining ability and started to enjoy the repartee:
“Pay 3,000 Naira [for the shoes].”
“Maigida [master of the house] says I can only spend 2,500.”
“Oh. Okay, take them.”
While we lived in Nigeria, my focus was on supporting my husband in his work, taking care of the children and the house, and helping our friends and neighbors as God enabled us. My husband travels for work about twelve weeks out of every year, so I am a single parent a fair amount of the time. Several times when my husband was traveling in Nigeria, there was unrest in our city. I did not realize the toll these events were taking on me until I started having health problems when we returned to the states two years ago. At that point, we decided to relocate our family to the US until I completely recover. Andy continues traveling to Nigeria, but thanks to technology he is also able to get most of his work done from our home in Florida (this is probably the only situation in which technology and I are friends).
My work hasn’t really changed, other than the location and the neighbors. In Nigeria, I could help our neighbors with money, food, clothing, transportation, schooling…I felt very helpful. In America, I try to help my neighbors by being “HOT” (Honest, Open, and Transparent). Since Americans live so much of their lives in isolation, we are able to hide who we are more easily. I try not to hide, and thereby, to encourage others not to either. I love the freedom I have in Christ. I love that in every way I struggle, Jesus was victorious on my behalf. My reputation is safely hidden in Christ, so I don’t have to be weighed down by discouragement when I fail because I know that “it is finished.” Just as in Nigeria, that is the gospel I want to share with my neighbors in America. And that is what I want to share with my children.
Unfortunately, I still experience physical symptoms of stress. I thought healing would happen faster. I would appreciate prayer that I would learn to truly trust God with all that I treasure, but especially with the lives of my husband and children. As proof of my HOTness, I confess that I still get easily anxious. You would think that after living amidst shootings and church bombings, there wouldn’t be much that would ruffle my feathers in America, but just the other day I struggled to enjoy a morning at the beach because I was concerned about my children. It probably didn’t help that I saw the lifeguards doing a rescue drill that I didn’t realize was a drill until after the fact, but still…I suspect that my “belief” that God works all things for my good is just lip service. I want to really believe it to the point that it changes the way I live.