My sister, her husband, and their two young children lived with my teammate and me for six weeks before they returned to the US after their first term in Cambodia. While my dreams for an idyllic time of all fun and games crashed and burned (a much longer story for another time), we did have the opportunity to share our meals together, go for walks, and enjoy doing life together for those days. There were long conversations after the kids went to bed, movie nights and devotions together.
My nephew and niece enjoyed the dirt patch outside our door after two years living in the city in a 3rd story apartment. They drove toy cars out there, dug with a hammer that came from who knows where, and made up stories about the ants that marched to and fro.
When it came time to take the 6-hour taxi ride back to the capital city to fly out, my sister took my 3 ½-year old nephew around to his favorite spots to say goodbye, including a farewell to our dirt patch. My heart broke and tears flowed, let me tell you (on my part at least).
This story came to mind as I wrapped up the final chapters of For the Joy. I thought of my sister, and I thought of all of you who are walking with your kids through the challenges and glories of cross-cultural work. I thought of the ways you are helping them say hellos and goodbyes, the ways you protect and struggle with the impact your yes to Jesus is having on your kids.
I thought of the singles who are welcoming the kids on their team, all the women who are coming alongside of each other to love and listen and care. It made me so incredibly thankful for God’s Kingdom and this community, and how He knits us together to accomplish His work.
Reading this book has been so eye-opening to see how hard it is to parent on the field—so if you are doing that, please know I see you and am so grateful for you.
Perhaps like Paula, you have a child with special needs and have to figure out how to get the best resources and help you can in a place where those might be limited. Have you said something like, “I had always believed that if our children aren’t coping, we should just be better parents”?
Or maybe you’ve had a traumatic birth like Alexis shared. If you have, I’m so sorry. I hope instead your birth-abroad stories are more adventure and peace than craziness and heartache.
Lyndal shared about raising her boys in the bush of Papua New Guinea. Anyone relate to the joys and sorrows of raising kids in a more isolated location?
Cecily shared about her own experience at boarding school as a girl and the different responses her own children had. I’m sure there are lots of different views about all the schooling options out there, and so many different factors. One thing that stuck out to me in her story is that parents truly try to do the best they can for their children. At the end Cecily concluded, “If I had my time again, I’m not sure I would send my children to boarding school. We could only make that decision with the strong assurance and conviction of the Lord”. That’s often all we can do, isn’t it?
Finally, Wendy shared some sweet and fun ways she helped her children through transition, including airport games and plane notes. Do you have any ideas or ways you’ve done those sorts of things with your own kids?
The editors of this book, Miriam Chan and Sophia Russell, shared some sweet thoughts about what they hope you were able to take away from For the Joy!
Sophia: “I hope they will have their world ‘expanded’ without leaving their homes by reading these stories from far-flung places, but also be encouraged to know that no matter where we live, we are all the same: walking with God, trusting in Him, striving to put Jesus at the centre of all we do.”
Miriam: “When we read stories/biographies, we may find ourselves identifying with the characters but more often than not, we don’t. It’s an eye-opening adventure to walk in the shoes of another person briefly and to see the world from their perspective, to hear their voices and to marvel at how God has created them and uses them in such different ways. Each story [in this book] is unique and powerful, and we pray that God will take us into places we probably would never have journeyed on our own.”
Here we are at the end of For the Joy! Thank you so much for joining in, and I hope this book was meaningful to you. What are your takeaways from this section or the book as a whole? Was there one woman’s story you particularly identified with? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.
In June we will be reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin! Here’s a summary of the book from Amazon:
In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer. This young adult novel is a fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore.
Here’s the reading schedule:
June 2 – Ch 1-13
June 9 – Ch 14-23
June 16 – Ch 24-38
June 23 – Ch 39-48