In less than two months now, my wife Sun is due to have our second child. One of our supporting churches recently told us that they wanted to have a baby shower for her in absentia. We thought that it would be good to send something along to be read at the baby shower since she would not be able to be there. As Sun and I got talking, we came up with the following list of challenges and blessings of being a young mom on the mission field. Every woman, and every family, is different and various parts of the world are very different as well, but here are some thoughts on Sun’s experience here in Thailand.
- Feeling isolated at times. We have very few close friends and no family nearby, and do not have a church family here locally that we can depend upon.
- The heat! It is very difficult to be out and about when pregnant
- It is common for local Thai moms to send their kids off to school at age two and a half and go to work. This might be somewhat similar to what some moms do in the States, but it is difficult for these local moms to understand why we don’t rush to send Joshua off to school now that he is three years old
- Many Thai churches not kid-friendly. Nowhere to take a crying baby or fidgeting toddler. This is partly a function of church size as small churches of twenty or thirty people rarely have the people or material resources for a cry room or nursery as is common in many American church buildings. However, I suspect that another reason that many churches are not kid-friendly is because children are not given a high priority in Thai society and this transfers over into the church.
- Not many parks or playgrounds to take children to
- Little to none age-appropriate toys and books for children under 3 years old. There are some places in Bangkok and Chiang Mai that have nicer imported items but most of what’s readily available is either for older children, poor quality, or both.
- Stray dogs that wonder everywhere and do their business everywhere, which doesn’t motivate me (Sun) to take Joshua out for a stroll
- Because I have a high risk pregnancy, we need to travel two hours to a suitable hospital
- Potty training is easier because the floor is hard stone, not carpet
- I (Sun) have been able to pick up the language fairly well so that even in spite of setbacks with two miscarriages and needing to be at home a lot with Joshua, God has enabled me to continue on with my language and culture acquisition
- When struggling after first miscarriage, it was good to have the support of other missionaries here in Thailand. Also, our mission organization gave us time for grieving and family issues which helped us to deal with the problems. There was no pressure to ‘hurry up and get over it, and get back to ministry’. They understand that at certain life stages we need to spend more time with family.
- Lots of good food and fruit, even for our three-year-old Joshua, is readily available and inexpensive.
- Affordable house help available. We have been blessed with very capable woman who comes in a few times a week to do some light cleaning, laundry, and make some food. She is also great with Joshua.
- We live across the street from the neighborhood community center so I (Sun) have opportunities to interact with other young moms and neighbors
- Great affordable medical care is available here in Thailand