Friday, September 5, 2014

Missionary Kids

I have a missionary kid (MK), or as my daughter fondly calls it, a Kid Missionary.  She has been out of her birth country for the majority of her growing up years.  The Jr. High and High School years, the ones that have a lasting impact on her life.  Yesterday I was sitting back and reflecting on what that meant for her and it made me ponder a few things.

I have been around a lot of MK's and I wonder if we treat them right.  Do we allow them to be their own person or do we mold them to what we want them to be?  These kiddos don't really have a place they call "home".  Home is where they currently are living.  If you ask an MK where they are from, you will get a quizzical answer with varied responses.  Is where they are from where they were born?  Where they went to school? Where they currently are?

In the U.S., if you have a child that has one or more parent from a country outside of the U.S., we pride ourselves in encouraging that child to understand where their genetic roots came from.  We encourage them to celebrate activities, events and holidays from both their host country, and the country of their roots. We encourage language acquisition of both their host country and their origin country.  I wonder then, why we give that all up when we go on the mission field?  Why do we get so single minded in becoming so entrenched in our new host country that we abandon where we came from?  

Let me give you some examples.  Since I have been on the mission field I have traveled all over the world and met Mk's in places all over.  We have regional retreats with missionaries and families from all over Latin America, and I have talked with many an MK.  Just recently I spent some time with an MK getting ready to go back to the States, and when I asked this person what they were going to do after college the response was not surprising, "I will never stay in the U.S. After I graduate."  It got me to wonder.  Since when did it become the norm to instill if not hatred, but disdain for the U.S. To our MK's?

I did a quick, unofficial survey of MK's and found that many don't know the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, the US capitol, who the Vice President is, what we celebrate on the 4th of July, the meaning of Memorial Day vs Veterans Day, and much more.   How many MK's know why we have stripes on the flag?  What is the significance?  Who is known for having crafted the flag, who were the founding fathers?  I could go on, but I won't. It is okay to find fault with the U.S.  Heck, I found fault when I lived there. I wonder when taking pride in your country became "uncool".

So let's lift up our MK's - love them for the unique people they are - encourage them that it's okay to be different, to not know how to answer the question "where are you from" - but also recognize the unique things that make them who they are - allow them to embrace ALL the countries they are from.  Share their history with them.

When we dropped Madison off at college, the first few days of orientation were just for the international and missionary kids.  When all was said and done, the announcer said to all the kids, "Now...take care...because tomorrow the American's arrive."  It was funny, and we all laughed, because we acknowledge the uniqueness that our kids are - that Third Culture Kid - not a kid of one country or another, but unique in their own culture. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Update

It is always a little odd to write about stuff while we are on furlough.  It doesn't have the same appeal, excitement, or fun qualities as blogs while on the field.  However, the reality is, every missionary goes on furlough (Home Mission Assignment - what our mission agency calls it).  It is meant as a time to re-connect with family, friends, supporters, churches, and to remember what it means to be an American.  For us, it also meant sending off our sweet daughter Madison to college.  We had our first set of prayer cards made without her face on it.  For us, it means a new season of life with lots of changes coming.  It is also meant to be a time to rest. 

Being on the front lines on the mission field is just outright exhausting.  People forget about us.  Through distance and time, we become a faded memory...so much of our support system slips away.  Our family situations change, our parents age, and we just need to get caught up with where life has brought us.

I am starting a job in a few weeks - many reasons for this, the primary reason is to make us personally financially sound.  I will be working in the field I love - pediatric hematology/oncology at an amazing hospital here in Phoenix - Phoenix Children's Hospital.  The nurse manager seems really committed to making her department excellent - and that is the primary thing I look for in a unit - a place that is exceptional at what it does, and truly cares for the patients under their care.  I will be working only 1 to 2 days a week.  The other goal for these funds?  To finally get Mike and I on a real vacation.  We totally skipped our 20th wedding anniversary as we are always busy working with teams during the summer when we have our anniversary - so I am hoping this is a way to make up for some lost time.  A church gave us some "seed" money for our vacation, and I will work to pay for the balance.

That's all for now...we will keep on keeping on...visiting churches, individual supporters, and hopefully a few visits with friends and family along the way (and maybe a baseball and/or football game in there too).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Motherly advice to her college bound daughter

Pearls of wisdom to pass on to my girl as she heads off to college.  I had them all neatly compiled and spaced out - one for each day of the month of her first month of college, but as the internet would have it, the draft version of this blog swallowed the blog whole - but not before I was able to write each day down on a card, and place each card in a separate envelope for Madison to open day by day.  But as those envelopes are sealed and ready to be delivered to her, I can't/don't want to open them...so...I don't have all my pearls of wisdom but I will pass on to you what I do remember...

1.  When you were 2 years old, "NO!" was not an acceptable answer to what I asked of you.  However, now, "No" is not only an acceptable answer, but given certain circumstances, the best response of all.

2.  Share what you have.  If you have two coats, give one to another.

3.  It is always better to give than to receive - but never at another's expense.  If it is a blessing to someone else to give to you - accept with a humble heart.

4.  The world is going to try and get you down - but you must remember, "You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - Pooh

5.  The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one... - Spock
The needs of the one are sacrificed for by The One - God

6.  I love you for your uniqueness - some others won't appreciate it, but, "The things that make me different are the things that make me." - Eeyore

7.  And remember...in "true" vampire lore - vampires NEVER say, "MUAH!"

8.  One never gets lost, you are only on an adventure.  And MAN did we have MANY an adventure.

9.  Man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.  You are not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside too...God must smile when he looks at you.

10.  Your faith is your own - not your parents.  "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

11.  When you eventually look for the man who will be your future husband, use your father as a guide.  Look at the way he treats me, and loves me.  I know those are high standards to hold to, but you deserve no less.

12.  I am your mother first and always, and although you are an incredible young woman, a part of me will always hold you in my heart as my baby.  "I'll love you forever, I'll love you for always...as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Anyway...there are 30 in all, but they are safely tucked away - this is just a small taste, but I hoped you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Life of a circuit rider missionary

our bags started out neat, but by the end of 5 weeks everything was a mess!

Mostly gone are the days of circuit rider pastors - when there weren't enough pastors to be at each church, a pastor would go from place to place and preach to the people in a different church each Sunday. That's what we feel like :-)

In our first five weeks - these are some interesting things we have seen so far:

Transylvania County, North Carolina
Transylvania, Louisiana
Toad Suck Park, Arkansas
Prince of Persia City, Pennsylvania
The Shrine of Infant Jesus of Prague, Oklahoma
Street Road, Pennsylvania

We have been in 21 states so far in this order:

Pennsylvania
Delaware
Maryland
West Virginia
Virginia
North Carolina
South Carolina
Georgia
Missouri
Illinois
Indiana
Kentucky
Tennessee
Alabama
Mississippi
Louisiana
Arkansas
Oklahoma
Texas
New Mexico
Arizona

In addition, we have stayed in 15 different homes, hotels or locations - that's an average of 3 new places each week.
 
Having little/no/limited access to washing machines - we have been doing a lot of laundry in hotel showers/bathtubs...lived out of our suitcases for 5 weeks, and eaten more fast food than I can even imagine (uugghhhh!).

We have taught Sunday School/Preached/or had meetings with the missions committee or pastor with 8 churches in 5 different states.

After traveling 4,355 miles, this now concludes our East Coast and Southern U.S. Circuit Tour.  What an amazing way to see the U.S of A!  I LOVE this country!  It is so fast, so different and so amazing.  Now let's see what the West Coast has for us!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Travels and pushing the re-set button

We spent the last week and a half with Mission to the World doing re-connect (or "welcome back to the US") to allow us deep breaths and remember what it is like to live in the U.S. and to make sure all is well emotionally and spiritually with returning missionaries.  After that we stayed the week and attended Summer Conference.  Basically, sleeping in late, working out, attending seminars, and eating lots of yummy food.  This really was our first chance to take a deep breath and relax. 

Today Mike and Madison are flying off to Missouri to get our rental car that we will have for the rest of our time back.  They will make a stop in Nashville and check out some of the sights before they return to Georgia. 

For the first time since we have been back I have been able to go to a mall!  Did a little shopping for necessities...

Next week I will be participating in Readiness Evaluation for new missionaries. I am part of the assessment team.  This is the same evaluation that Mike and I participated in more than 9 years ago, but now I am on the evaluation end, not the "to be evaluated" end.  I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pennsylvania

Some observations from a California chick about South-Central Pennsylvania:

1.  Stars on houses.  Originally, there was a major housing developer that used "Barn Stars" as a means of showing he built a house.  It then became a "good luck charm" similar to a horse shoe, and now it simply has become a home decoration.  I would venture to say at least 50% of the homes in this area decorate with a star.
 

2.  Candles in windows.  Originally the candles signified a safe house for people needing to escape via the underground railroad during the Civil War.  Later it became decoration during Christmas, and now many people keep candles or lights on year round
.

3.  Churches with cemeteries.  I was surprised by the amount of churches that had cemeteries as part of their property.  I think because so many of the churches have been around for 150+ years, this was the "norm" then, and less so now.


4.  Fireflies.  Now, we have fireflies in Honduras - but I have never seen so many at one time...it was awesome to see!


5.  Amish.  We were definitely in amish country.  We saw men, women, buggies, scooters, and leaned a lot about the community while we were there.


6.  County parks - Mike and I are in initial training for a marathon and wanted to take advantage of the trail runs at the county parks.  The parks were incredible and were hardly used!  As opposed to the county parks in Sacramento/Elk Grove, California where we are from which were barely tolerable but used a LOT!

7.  Harley Country.  In the almost 8 days we spent in Pennsylvania, I saw more Harley-Davidson motorcycles than I have even in California!

8.  Corn fields.  More corn fields than I have ever seen.  Apparently most of the corn that was grown was not for human consumption, but to feed the cattle (of which there were TONS of dairy farms around).


9.  Pike versus a freeway - well - pretty much didn't see ANYTHING with a "freeway" sign, but saw tons of signs that said "Pike".  Not really sure of the difference at all, but there you have it.

So, that's it folks - a California's attempts of seeing Pennsylvania through a non-Pennsylvania's eyes and of all the amazing and beautiful country I saw - these were the things that stuck out to me the most.