Tag Archives: parenting overseas

Honorary Auntie

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Missionary families often say that the hardest part of our job is being far away from family.  Especially when you have a close and loving extended family, you miss them a lot.  When we were preparing to become missionaries, the “experienced ones” all told us that the other missionaries on your field become like the aunties and uncles and grandmas and grandpas for your children.  I was offended by this idea.  My kids already HAVE aunties and uncles and grandparents.  I didn’t want them forgetting their real family, and I didn’t want them replacing those roles in their hearts.  And I wasn’t really keen on the idea of someone else’s kids calling me Auntie.  I wasn’t impressed with this substitute idea of family.

But time has passed and my attitude has softened.  My kids have NOT forgotten their real family and thanks to Skype and Face Time, we can talk to them face to face whenever we want to!  They know who their real family is and they love them like no other.  But it can get kind of lonely and sad out here.  There are no relatives to babysit for you when you need a date with your spouse.  There are no proud grandparents taking pictures at your school plays or sporting events.  And don’t even get me started on all the birthday parties that my family has missed and we have missed in our turn!

So here is where the missionary family comes in handy.  We KNOW we aren’t really related, but we ACT like we are.  I have taken care of children who are not mine– overnight, while their parents were out of the country.  I have pulled loose teeth, tucked them into bed, bandaged owies, and packed school lunches for kids who are not mine.  I have driven kids to school, picked them up again and taken them to youth group.  I have watched school plays and cheered at sports games.  I’ve taken kids to the movies and McDonalds and go carts.  I’ve attended every birthday party we’ve been invited to.  I’ve earned my Auntie status in a million ways.

It in no way diminishes my love and connection to my real family, but we all need a “Jesus with skin on” so to speak.  We all need the Village to raise a child (we just hope and pray that our village isn’t full of idiots!).  And we try to be that kind of community for others that we are missing ourselves.  It’s about living in harmony with people that you don’t get to choose… just like a family.

Doing the Birthday Party Rounds!

Doing the Birthday Party Rounds!

A Missions Trip for Babies?

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Now here’s a topic for all you parents out there.  Would you ever consider taking your kids on a family missions trip?  Of course the answer might depend on the destination in question, is it safe for kids?  But in general, I’m wondering how many of you have ever considered taking your kids overseas for a few weeks to do ministry together.

We took our first family missions trip to Mexico and I blogged about the bugs here.  It wasn’t the greatest experience for many reasons, but it wasn’t because my kids were there.  I think they enjoyed it, especially the 7 year old.

Right now we are hosting our 7th out of 8 teams for this summer.  This team is a group of college students from a church in California.  They’ve been a really great group of young people.  They’ve spent the night in the jungle, and even got stranded out there an extra day when the river flooded.  They’ve had good attitudes the whole time.

As you know, good attitudes come from good leadership.  The pastor and his pregnant wife have been amazing.  And they brought their 15 month old daughter on the trip too.  Now, I’ve had a toddler on the mission field before, so I know what is involved with this endeavor.  The mother COULD be super freaked out by germs, by her child touching everything, by dirt, by strange food, by non-existent nap times, by late night schedules, by noise and heat and exhaustion.  She COULD get upset when her child’s schedule is interrupted, but she hasn’t.  I haven’t heard one complaint from her.

The baby has been easy to manage too.  She’s a flexible kid who’s used to being passed around and held by lots of people.  She’s used to being the center of attention and Costa Ricans love children, so they make a big to-do over kids.  This child is not phased by any of that, she’s loving it!  She’s not been a problem.

Mom and baby did not go on the jungle camping trip though.  They stayed back at the hotel.  The first day, I went out after work and picked them up for the afternoon.  We ate lunch at a café with a play land.  My daughters entertained the baby on the climbing gym while we ate and chatted over lattes.  Then they came to our house and the kids played in the yard while I made brownies and we ate dinner together.  It was fun.

It was ultimately a good decision not to bring the baby to the jungle since the team got flooded in when the river overflowed it’s banks and they had to hike out of the boonies.  So that was a good decision,  But on the whole, what do you think about taking children on missions trips?  Would you do it?

On a completely different note, this is my 200th blog post!  I’m thrilled to make it to this milestone.  I’m setting little goals for myself along the way to one big goal, so for me it’s important to celebrate my little successes along the way.  Here’s to 200 posts and a still growing readership!  Thanks for sticking with me for the last 8 months.  It’s been fun, and there’s more to come… so don’t touch that dial.