On this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking the amazing impact my mom had on me in shaping the direction of my life. Her example of sharing and caring for others, inspires me to this day.
One of my earliest memories is of her teaching women to read in what is now the Republic of Congo, Africa. She let me come alongside her and had me go to individual women to help them learn to read.
Can you imagine as an adult what it would be like to long to read the Bible for yourself? What if you wanted to learn more about God but you didn’t know how to read. The only way you could get the Word of God is by going to church.
This is the way it was in the jungles of Africa where I grew up. For some going to church meant walking for an hour or two on Sunday. They would get up at the first crack of dawn so they would have time to walk to church. Then they would walk and hour or two back home.
They were upset if the church service did not last at least for four hours because it was such a long trip. Many were so hungry for God, it made the long trip worth it for them.
Even those who lived close to the mission station did not have any way to read the Bible for themselves throughout the week. Can you imagine what that would be like too long to know more about God and to receive the encouragement and comfort of scripture and not being able to read it?
They were thrilled when my mom and I taught them to read so they could begin to read the Bible for themselves.
My mom wrote letters home to the USA. She told them stories about the people so they could pray for them. She asked people to send boxes of used clothes for the mission so the African children could have at least one outfit.
I remember standing with her and the African children as we sorted through the boxes of clothes to find their right sizes or at least something close. The children would wear it until it wore out.
She taught the women basic hygiene like washing their hands after going to the bathroom to cut down on diseases. She handed out itch medicine to ease their incessant itching. She even helped deliver a baby.
Wherever she lived in Africa and later in the USA, she continually reached out to people to show love, compassion and care in practical ways. When she owned a pre-school after she came to the USA, it was more than a business for her. After hours, she continually counseled and helped the mothers.
She went to a local publishing house and get their “seconds” to give the mothers, the reassuring message of God’s love in the Bibles she gave them.
All was not ideal. My mother suffered damage from severe childhood abuse and had many issues to deal with. I inherited many of those challenges and issues to work through as well.
However, she didn’t let her brokenness or any of her emotional challenges stand in her way of caring for others. She modeled for me as her daughter that you don’t have to be perfect or have a perfect life to have a heart to share and care and to make a significant and positive difference in their lives.
I am forever grateful and have done my best to carry on her legacy of care for others.
She died when I was only thirty so I never did get the chance to tell her these things. Often it’s not until later in life that you realize all your parents have done for you.
Mom, I hope somehow in heaven you can hear my thanks as I honor you.
I love you.