Imagine this, our family piles into the car, everyone is super excited, we are going to the airport! Welcome signs have been made, little gifts have been crafted, and excited chatter is coming from backseat. Then the 1000 questions begin: “Mommy, where will they sleep, what will we do while they are here, do you think they brought us anything”? You see visitors are coming to see us, and while it’s an exciting time for my husband and I, it’s even more so for our children.
Our visitors range from grandparents, cousins, pastors, other missionaries, and interns! My family and I love having visitors, but then something terrible happens- they leave! Those two or three weeks go by really fast, especially after planning for months for these special friends and family to arrive. I interviewed and wrote missionary children (or their mothers) and asked “what is the hardest thing for you on the mission field”? Across the board, it was saying goodbye!
My family and I are getting ready to go back to the USA for our second furlough. In 7 weeks, we will step foot on US soil and set up our lives there for a year. For the past 6 months, my girls have been planning sleepovers, saving up money to purchase “goodbye” gifts, and are making plans on how they can keep up with their friends here! Because, once again, we will say adios!
As parents of missionary children, my husband and I have been trying to come up with some things to help our 3 mk’s with saying goodbye. Here are a few:
1.Listen to our children and try to understand how they feel. If it’s hard for me to say goodbye, it’s hard for them also. Just because they are little or young doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them.
2.Pray with our children! Our God brings comfort! What a wonderful way to show our children that they need to rely on the Lord and that He cares about and knows what is going on in their lives!
3.Allow them to keep in touch! I allow our children to use my messenger account, Skype, and phone to communicate with family and friends. Our mail here is very unreliable, but our children have typed out letters, I email them to my mom and she so graciously sends them out!
For the people who are visiting and supporting churches here a few ways you can help:
- Send a letter specifically to the missionary child. We have had church’s children’s programs send our children letters with questions for our children to answer! Although, it takes sometimes 2 or 3 months for those to get to us our children love to get these letters! We’ve also had people scan letters that their children from their church has written and email them to us.
- Send birthday and Christmas cards! It’s fun to see the excitement in our children’s eyes to get a card just for them.
- Leave a small note to the missionary child before you leave. Maybe in the room you were staying in or on the table. We’ve had family and friends leave thank you notes to our children and it really made an impact on them.
- Keep in touch after you leave! Call, email, Skype! Our family has had several visitors that have become like family to us. It’s always a blessing when, even after they leave, the continue to keep in touch, not with just us, but our children also.
- Make them feel welcome when they come back to the USA! A lady at our home church has written me and asked what things our children like because she is preparing a “welcome” basket for us! Our family will have toys and special things for them in their rooms, and a friend of mine has asked if her son and my son can be pen pals while we are home! These are just a few ways that people have reached out to us!
In my questionnaire, I also asked what is the best thing for you on the mission field, and one of the top answers was “getting to meet and know lots of people.” So, thank you to those of you who have taken time to get to know our children, visit us, and keep in touch with our family! Thank you for making a positive impact on our children!
Until we meet again,