We have a dog named Nacho. Before we even left for the mission field, back in 2004 we promised our kids that once we got through itineration, language school and two international moves that we would get a dog. So once we landed in Mexico, we made plans to fulfill our promise. We sent a message home to my parents to go to a breeder and pick out a dog for us. We wanted a Shih Tzu.
So my parents went out to the farm where the breeder lives and picked out the cutest, most cuddly puppy they had. Some friends of ours from Mexico were in town for a wedding, so we made plans for Nacho to travel back to Mexico with them. They brought us this adorable little fur ball.
Nacho has traveled to Mexico, back to Minnesota, and on to Costa Rica with us. Missionary kids have to give up a lot of things as we move country to country. So we make an effort to keep Nacho as one of the “constants” in their lives. Some missionary families have to leave their pets on the field and get a new pet in each new place where they live. That works for some families but I don’t think that would work for our kids.
The other thing that Nacho is good for is as a built in alarm system. He barks whenever anyone comes to our door. He guards our yard, although the most dangerous thing that enters our yard are those yellow birds that he hates and the gardener with his evil “weed wacker.” But he lets those on the outside of our gate know that a dog lives here and so they better beware. He’s got an important job to do.
But one major pitfall of having a pet when you live the life of a global nomad is that you must constantly be searching for someone to watch your dog for you when you leave town for a night or a week or a year. It’s a head ache! When we were home on furlough this last time there was a lovely lady in our home church who offered to take Nacho for us whenever we left town to go speak at a church. She said, “I don’t have any money to support a missionary, but this is something I can do to bless you.” And that was HUGE for us!! Just huge! To know that we never had to worry about finding a dog sitter when we had to travel and that Nacho was being well cared for was indeed a huge blessing for our family.
So I would like to encourage all of you who love missions but don’t have the financial means to support a missionary. Look for practical ways that you can bless a missionary and make their life back home a little less stressful. It might be offering to take in their mail, shovel their snowy driveway, mow their lawn, or water their plants while they are away. Or offering to be the emergency contact person for the school where their children attend (a few times we found ourselves stuck in traffic and couldn’t pick up our kids after school. It helped having friends who could run up to the school and pick them up for us.) Ask a missionary if they have someone to fold and stuff their newsletters a few times a year. That’s a practical blessing for sure!
Or maybe you know that the family will be arriving in your state in the middle of winter and they will have NO snow clothing for the first few weeks. This would be a great opportunity to ask your friends if the family could borrow jackets and boots and mittens for a few weeks. You have no idea how fast kids grow and how hard it is to find winter coats in December! Anyhow, look for practical ways that you can bless others. Listen to what they are talking about and ask yourself if there is a need you can meet here. It’s a huge blessing for us missionaries!