We are so glad you’re here today as we continue our discussion with Missionary wife Phyllis Stirewalt, who has served with her husband, Randy, in Kenya for 35 years. I have truly enjoyed listening to her podcast interviews with Pastor Austin Gardner. Her love for the Lord has inspired and encouraged me. You don’t want to miss out on a blessing, so be sure to listen to the second part of the audio interview attached at the end of this post! The Leadership with Vision Podcast is a great resource for missionaries and leaders.
Now, let’s dive right in again and hear what Mrs. Phyllis has to say about living life between two worlds as a missionary wife and mother.
WBTS: How have you balanced being “all in” in your country, but maintaining your relationships in the states? (with parents, grown children, grandkids)
This is easier today than ever before. In the early ministry days we couldn’t call our family. There was not face time, no Skype, no e-mail. Just a letter which would take weeks to arrive. We even have magic jack so I can talk to my kids and grandkids every week. Last time we were in the states our 3 year old granddaughter saw us and said, “Look grandpa and grandma came out of the computer.”
WBTS: How adorable! Many of our readers are senders, holding the ropes here in the States. What are some ways that senders have encouraged you through the years, and what can missionary wives do to encourage senders?
I think by just letting them know what a huge blessing they are. We had people who sent our kids gifts on their birthdays and cards just to say “we miss you.” This is so needed and so precious. I love to hear from people and have some dear friends who I am closer to than my own brothers and sisters because they have invested in loving us.
WBTS: I agree that senders can be such a tremendous blessing! We often have no idea what missionaries face living overseas. What kind of culture shock do you experience when you come back to the States?
I must admit there is culture shock when I go back to the states. There are so many things in the stores to buy we can’t get here, so many changes take place that we are not a part of. The first time I heard someone talk to their car and door came open I nearly fell over!!! We must be about 100 years behind America here. I too am shocked by how short church services are, the weather changes, all a shock to you after being away for so many years.
WBTS: What are some ways you have dealt with unwarranted criticism or unrealistic expectations from the States regarding your family and ministry?
Let’s all be honest; we all face criticism!! As we get older, it gets easier for me. I hated people to criticize my children because they didn’t know how to be Americans. But just know God is the one we strive to please, obey, and love more than anyone or anything, so let’s just be people of God and grow. Have my kids embarrassed me in churches. YES, I always had the advantage of telling them in Swahili with the biggest smile on my face, “If you do that again, I will make you sorry, REAL SORRY” and no one was the wiser but my children.
WBTS: How funny! I will have to remember that trick! Thank you again for your honesty and for pointing us to Jesus! We can’t wait to hear from you again on Friday to discuss more about your ministry in Kenya!
Be sure to visit the Leadership with Vision Podcast to hear a live interview with Mrs. Phyllis Stirewalt and Pastor Austin Gardner. If you’ve enjoyed these blog interviews, then you will love to listen to her!