If there was one thing I wanted during my first term on the field, it was a mentor. Not so much a spiritual mentor, although that might have been good too! Mostly I needed someone who could help me with the practical challenges of homemaking and caring for a family in Africa. Someone who could answer simple but mystifying questions like, “How do you cook cassava?”, “What do you use for bathroom cleaner?” and “What do I do with my 18-month-old on a 12-hour flight?” We have wonderful colleagues on the field who helped when they could, but we saw them only occasionally, and cell service in our area was spotty. I felt very alone in my struggle to figure out everyday life in a foreign land.

I realize now that I am not the only one who feels this need. Many women are struggling with the practical issues of living overseas, without help or advice. It is that need that inspired me to start blogging about the practical issues of homemaking and raising children overseas. And today I want to share an interview with an older missionary friend of mine, to glean some advice from her years of experience.

This is a guest post I wrote for Velvet Ashes. Please read the rest of the article here (it's a great interview!).

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  • I had the unusual blessing of living next door to my mother-in-law for my first seven years living in an isolated place. She has 30 years of bush living experience, and the grace to not have made me feel like an idiot for the first five years I was figuring things out. Practical mentors are such a key to thriving. Thanks for the article.

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  • Thanks for sharing, Joanna! "...the first five years I was figuring things out." Thank you for admitting this! I think as newbies sometimes we feel pressure (from ourselves, if no one else) to be thriving by the time we've been overseas for six months or a year. It so often takes much longer!

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  • Guest - Maria

    Thanks SO much for starting this blog, Melissa! We're preparing to move to Africa in a few months, and I've been gathering tips and advice from anyone I can. :-) I'm excited about having a place to learn and share with other Moms overseas.

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  • Thanks! We need more of those people older and wiser to tell us what to do! :-)

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  • You know Melissa, as I tried to look back and remember all the things I went through those first months and years I wish I would have written more of it down so that I could refer more to those experiences to encourage whoever is going through all those "firsts, " that they are not alone. On the other hand, my husband and I also laugh or get a little embarrassed at our youthful energy and probably realize more NOW, 11 yr. later how much we needed a mentor but some times we thought we had better ideas than the family who had been there almost 10 years! Perhaps had we asked more, listened better to advice, and not been so determined to try our way, we may have been saved some heart aches, "almost" burn out and health crisis that have totally changed our lives ;)But sometimes that IS how we learn and God has been so patient with us, and we pray that we are more pliable vessels in His hands than we used to be.;) Thank you so much for starting this blog!

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