First Trip Home. Home?

When I was a kid, my family moved all over the place. I was born and lived my first 11 years in Oregon. All my family is there, minus my sisters.  So every Summer we would take a trip back to visit family, camp, see the beach etc.  I so vividly remember being missed and loved by my clan.  In their love, adoration and eagerness, they would often repeat, “When are you moving back?” “We miss you so much!” “Tell mom and dad you want to come home.”   Huh….. home…. Oh my, they were so sweet and loving, and I understand completely the heart behind the questions.

For no fault on their part, my brothers and sisters and I would feel wracked with guilt. Guilt that through no fault of our own, we had made Grandma and Grandpa sad.  Guilt that… we liked it where we lived. We had school, friends, memories, youth groups, it was home.  I was absolutely jealous and still am, that my cousins can go see my precious grandparents whenever they want. I love and adore my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I’m TOTALLY jealous. But I’ve lived away for 20 years.  Home is a tricky thing, and for us amidst the joy at returning was pain and guilt that we were gone in the first place. 
So when Alex and I moved overseas with our four kids, I knew exactly what they were going through, minus the language barrier. The concept of home is difficult for kids who have been transplanted.  I think it is exceptionally difficult for a third culture kid.  Moving to another country with missionary parents, presents extra challenges.   When we first moved a lot of their statements began with: “Remember at home….”  “At home this is…..” “In our house…” “I want to go home because….”  But now, those statements are directed towards our El Salvador home. 
Now, almost 2 years in we are preparing them for their first trip “home” tomorrow. These are not the same kids in their souls, that we brought down here. Two years taller, two years wiser, two years with other people, in another home.  Every one of them considers this place home.  They love their school, their friends, their people. They even love our tiny home.  More and more they are speaking the language, they are familiar will all of the roads, the routine, the places and the change in lifestyle. They are adjusted to tropical climate, so much so that when its 72  degrees in a restaurant, we are shivering.  

Alex and I were talking yesterday and decided that missionary years are like dog years. You know, how if a dog is 1 he is really 7?  We think missionary years are a 1:10 ratio.  So for those missionaries out there who have been at it for 15-20 years!! Holy mackerel, we stand in awe.   Its definitely been a missionary 2 years for our kids we think.  They are such different little people. And not so little anymore.  And right now this is their home.  Its familiar, and comfortable, and they love it. It feels like 20 years to us.
Yesterday, my most sensitive child, was getting teary. She came to me and told her that she is feeling sad that she is leaving. I was shocked, because a few months ago, she was REALLY missing the U.S. But she has come to love her teacher at school, her classmates and it is for sure reciprocated. Apparently her teacher started to cry because she is going to miss Addison so much.  We will only be gone 3 weeks and her teacher knows this, but that’s how it is.  She just feels so caught between two worlds.
I know that my kids are overcome with excitement right now to go back to the U.S. We all cannot wait to be able to flush our toilet paper.  Donovan said the first thing he is going to do is drink water out of the kitchen sink at Grandpa’s.  I am going to eat all of the pumpkin things. And all of the apple, cinnamon Autumn goodness. All of it. And consequently, also do a lot of running in the cool, not sweaty weather.  Oh my goodness, the family and friend time we are about to have!!! 
But they are going to struggle, I know its coming because I know their hearts like I know my own.  Or rather, I know their hearts, like Alex knows mine.  So much is different. They are different. The people there are different.  Everyone’s lives kept on steadily moving forward.  Some things will be the same, and somethings never will be.   Some places will feel familiar, yet strange all at the same time. Maybe they will feel guilty that they are so happy to be back, maybe they will be sad, maybe they will just be joyful. I don’t know.  Home is a tricky thing.     
So if you ever come across a third culture kid, here is what you can do to help their hearts.   I know you love and miss them,  we {missionaries} feel exactly the same about you.  But please do not use these phrases:
“Do you like it better here?”
“Do you miss living here?” —this one causes inside guilty feelings when the answer is very complicated in their hearts
“When are you coming back for good?” 
“Do you want to move home?”
We are so so so so so stinking excited to have the opportunity to come back. Some very, very, very kind people made this possible for us, and we are over the moon excited.  We have missed our other home so much.  Being in our country of birth and language is going to be so comfortable and easy.  Familiar.   Words cannot even express how I am longing to hear the word of God taught in my own language.  And I am so sorry if you are sitting next to me during Worship, because I will probably be sobbing at the ability to do so in my own tongue! I am going to have to buy waterproof mascara. 
To sit and have deep heart to hearts, in our language, with our friends and family is something  that I am desperately anxious to do.  I have missed my friends so much, like an ache down deep in the bones.  To laugh uncontrollably and just be with you all is such an incredible gift.  {Yes I’m talking about you Tim Gamble}.   And I’m not going to lie. I am totally going to Target and buying a suitcase full of Multigrain Cheerios!!!!!!!!!
One more day!

Compassion at the Alive Festival

I was ecstatic when I got the email about volunteering at a Compassion Int. table.  I was even more excited to find out it was going to be at the Alive festival!! 

Help people sign up to sponsor kids, change their lives and listen to music? Why yes thank you, I’d love to.  Listen to Matthew West for free while I work?  Well, if you insist.

Lets be real for a minute though.  I was also pretty elated about getting a food cart corn dog.  🙂

I love Compassion Int.  The ease with which they provide people the opportunity to give life changing food, clothing, medical care and education to children all over the world is awesome.  Not to mention the fact that the child gets all that for only $38/month!!    They come to think of their sponsors as family.  Can you just imagine!  The sweetness of a child far, far away that suddenly has the ability to go to school?  You can do that for them.  Education is not mandated in most countries.  It is for the privileged few who can afford it.  And if you can’t, then you are doomed to repeat the cycle of poverty. 

You can be as involved in your sponsored child’s life as you want.
Minimum- Automatic withdrawal and we fill out paperwork for you
Medium- Automatic withdrawal, use online templates in your account to write letters and upload pictures. You can send birthday, family and Christmas gifts online
Maximum- Visit your sponsored child!! 

Oh how I wish I can someday take our sponsored son and daughter into my arms.  After I’m done hugging the living daylights out of him and her, I long to then take their mamas into my embrace.  I want to whisper into their ears and hearts and assure them God LOVES them.  He LOVES their children.  Then I would tell them that I think they are magnificent parents.  To not be tempted to think they have failed their children in any way.  Then I would make perfectly clear that we give because Christ so blessed us, to bless others.  Holding those mama’s hands I would ask them to tell me about the joy they feel when they look on their children and funny things they do that causes mischief.  Then I will tell them how I love my children so much it hurts sometimes.  And how they make me CRAZY too.  I want them to know that I pray for their children, but that I also pray for them every night.

It is hard, hard to accept gifts that sting our pride.  I would assume that 99.9% of parents long to provide for their children all on their own.  It hurts to watch their children go hungry and know they can do nothing about it. 

Few people I know, want to admit that they need help and then accept help.  I recently was reminded in my own life, that turning away a gift, that someone else felt prompted in their Spirit {by the Spirit} to give, prevents that person from obeying God.   Doesn’t that just get ya?!

It was my great privilege to help match people that night with a child desperate for help.  After the 4 day festival, over 300 children had been chosen!!!!  Holla!  300 children whose lives will never be the same.  Whose parents’ dreams and prayers for their lovies are coming true.  Thank you Compassion, thank you for letting each and every one us be a part of that.  Thank you for making it possible and oh so easy for us to obey God, and his command to care for our neighbor.