Thursday, March 28, 2013


(For personal safety this will be posted after the event.)

I'm learning what it's like to cope/stayhealthy/thrive in the midst of loneliness. My man is gone for two weeks, and this is the longest we'll have been apart. It's for a good cause - he's in Sierra Leone scoping out our work and living situation for later this year. I'm so excited to hear all about it when he gets back.

The more missionaries I talk to the more I learn that being apart (due to meetings, gathering resources and supplies, etc.) is part of the missionary life. We decided it would be good practice during this orientation to think about the essentials for life during our times apart. So many of the things that came up are ones that hardly cross our minds back "home."

  • Safety: Do I feel safe? Are there people I can turn to quickly and easily?
  • Transportation: Do I have the ability to go where I need with baby in tow?
  • Health: Do I have what I need to stay physically healthy (hydrated, etc)? Emotionally healthy? Do I need/have electricity, water, internet?
  • Communication: Am I able to contact people I need? Can I communicate with Josh?

We're halfway through our time, and I'm really pleased with our setup. We addressed each of these things before he left, and we're doing great. Baby E and I are eating 2-3 meals a day, sleeping well, getting some exercise, doing fun activities, meeting some new people, and learning some new things. My man asked some missionaries and a local friend to look out for me, and they're doing a great job! We've even been able to talk to him briefly over the phone a couple times. *swoon* That's the only time I've been crying... when I hear his voice.

I'm grateful for some advice a friend in Norway gave from her experience of being alone: "Treat yourself to some good food and some fun project when Elijah is alseep."

That helps with the thriving part of being alone. So do all the prayers that are being said on our behalf.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Can I be their wife?

I often think about what it's going to be like living among the people to whom God is sending us. Will we be called "stranger," "outsider," "white man/woman"? For a time, no doubt about it. Maybe a long time. Maybe the whole time we're there. What's it going to take to become an insider, to really bond? Giving up hot showers (wouldn't want those anyway), lattes, air-conditioning? Living in local houses and eating local food?

Elijah with our friend Ama, who helped care for him while I was sick.

No. It's deeper than that.

Today, I sat and talked to Josh's Ghanaian best friend about families and extended families. I had heard that a woman is addressed as "our wife," and I wanted to know what that meant. He explained that when a woman is brought into the family through marriage, she not only becomes the "wife" of her new husband, but also all his brothers. They call her their wife. And his parents call her their daughter.

There is more to the relationship: All the brothers are obligated to care for her and any children that are born. They act equally as husbands to her and as fathers to her (their brother's) children. They are respected by her, provide for her and her children, etc. She also inherits the cooking duties for the entire family from the mother-in-law, because his parents are her parents. Extended families are large  enormous! This is where relationships are, and relationship is the currency of Africa (previous post).

I'm not sure what it's going to look like in Sierra Leone. I get the impression that this is the West African way. Is it okay to hope for an extended African family? To want to be called "our wife"? Or however it's done there?

Growing up, that's how my parents built relationships as missionaries in Bangladesh. There were local people we were "related to" through my mother and my father, and... those were the relationships that were deep.

Me with my auntie and late uncle (on my mom's side) in Bangladesh.
Learning to wife!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Would've thunk my family was kinda African?

So, to be able to relate to people, it's important to come up with things we have in common. Here in Africa, I feel like I'm always talking about my family. It's what I like to talk about and it's what they like to hear.

Nearly everyone lives in community, mostly with extended family. It's odd that our little family would leave our extended family in America to live "by ourselves" in Africa. In order to show them family is important to us and that what we're doing is that important that we'd leave them, I have to tell them stories.

I tell them about my sisters and all their kids. 

My sister-in-law and #5.
They love it. The media has told them that Americans only have one or two kids and don't breastfeed. When they hear that my sisters have 4, 4, and 5 (6th on the way) each... so far, they love it. Even they think it's crazy! "One of your sisters gives birth every year!!!!!!!" Yes, it's even odd here. I often get asked how many we're going to have. When I say as many as God blesses, they beam and exclaim with joy.
I tell them about my precious grandpa's funeral.

Some of the family gathered for the funeral.
I few months ago over 50 people gathered, ate, and slept at our family compound in California. We had three small houses and three campers. People didn't even have to sleep in the tree house! It's the way we roll, and we loved it. When I tell them that this is unusual in America but common for my family, they say "It seems you're already Ghanaian." You see, they live in compounds here, they work together and provide for each other in everything, and funerals are of utmost importance.
I tell them that in America, Josh and I live with his grandparents.
They love this and can totally relate.
Yes, what we've gotten ourselves into - helping people use and understand God's Word - is worth it. The pains of not knowing the language, unreliable electricity and water, washing diapers by hand, or soaking food in bleach, pale in comparison to the pains of being away from our family.

This, my friends, is how I bond with people.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Relationship is the currency of Africa

"How's Africa?" - You might ask.

I knew right away when we got off the plane in Accra, Ghana, that our next three months would be incredibly different from the previous three years of marriage we completed. 

Ghanaian children near Tamale, Ghana
(Taken by Joshua Wagner)

Relationship is the currency of Africa. Two of the most common phrases used here are "You are welcome" and "You are invited." The first is used to welcome people into a their homes, stores, or simply their presence. The second is often used to share a meal. If you happen to be near anyone eating, they will invite you to share their food. It's beautiful.

"How's Elijah in Africa?" Well, take a look here and see for yourself. He looks like this almost all day, everyday. 

Or, maybe you're wondering what on earth we're doing over here. If you'd like to follow the ministry we are a part of, check out our Facebook, WAGNER UPDATES, and you'll find pictures, descriptions and updates like below. I'll give you a hint: We're about making God's Word accessible in people's heart languages.

how 'bout this...

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