Our time in the United States was crazy, fun, and always on the go. We traveled around 70,000 miles in a year! With that much traveling it was hard to get in all the family time that we wanted so much to have. I’m very thankful, though, for family who took time to be with us and make this past year a wonderful time.
They went above and beyond for us. My parents set our furniture up in our house, my mother in law helped us get a bedroom suite, and brothers helped us with all the heavy lifting. One special opportunity my children got to enjoy was farm life. They planted and harvested garden, raised chickens, got see a duck born, and many other fun farm activities.
Here is an excerpt from a blog post my mother wrote 2 years ago about how special it is to make memories with your family even while they are on the mission field. I hope you enjoy this memory…about making memories!
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
When we dropped them off at the airport, the reality hit me that my grandchild would not know me very well unless I found ways to get to know her and to let her know me. So I determined that I would find ways to know my grandchild, regardless of how far away she lived.
I am very thankful for the advice from a veteran missionary… He told us that if he could do it over, he would have come back to the States more often and provide a way so that his children could better know their grandparents… He suggested we spend as much time as possible with our grandchildren so they could know us and know their country also…
Thanks to the love and support of family, friends and church family, I have been able to visit Peru and Bolivia several times. It is with joy that I have been able to meet the people in their church, visit the children’s schools, enjoy the sites and experience their life in Bolivia.
There are times that I have not seen our family for a year… Below are some ways I keep in touch with my family when they are on the field
1) Talk on the phone. It takes time to speak to each child and really find out what is going on in their life. I want to know about their church services, what is happening in their school, who is their best friend, how they are doing in piano lessons, how are their pets, etc., etc.?
2) Video Chat. We have had so much fun using Skype. Beth has shown me the homes they have lived in. We open Christmas gifts and birthday gifts together while on Skype. I take my laptop outside and show the children our small farm animals and my flowers. We sing songs and I read books to them. Recently, we started sharing silly jokes from a joke book. We have songs we sing at bedtime, etc.
3) Mail boxes. Mailing to a foreign country can be expensive. But, it is worth every penny to know I can send my family something they need or want. It might be a certain kind of candy they miss eating or medicine they need. I shop ‘end of season’ sales to buy clothes for the children. If they were here in the states, there are times we would be eating out, shopping, etc. My mailed boxes with the little treasures have to take the place of those times. Very often, other kind missionaries and friends/family traveling to Bolivia have taken suitcases of items to our family for us. I am indebted to these people for delivering our gifts. It helps my heart to know our family can receive something from us to meet needs, bring enjoyment and encourage them.
4) Pray!!! There is probably nothing more important I can do than to sincerely and earnestly pray for our family. The first thing upon waking each morning is prayer. I begin thanking God and then pray for our daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, our son and his new bride! I call each person’s name, ask for the Lord’s protection and guidance for them, and pray for their needs.
5) Bucket List. We have activities each one of us would like to do together when they are visiting. We don’t always empty the ‘bucket,’ but I make sure we have done something special each child requested. One year Grace wanted to go ice skating, Taylor wanted to go to the ‘Build-A-Bear’ store, and Titus said he just wanted to be at our house. Among all the activities, we take time to enjoy being together at home…. I love watching them run through our yard and ride their bikes, visiting our family who lives around us. Because they don’t have a mailbox at their home in Bolivia, it is a highlight for them to ‘get the mail’ and pass it out to everyone. (Needless to say, I made sure they all received mail with their name on it!) We walk the dogs out across the farm looking for wildflowers and four leaf clovers. At night, I take turns laying down with each child. We talk and laugh until Beth tells us it is time to get to sleep!
I’m very thankful that Beth and Kevin purposefully plan times for us to be a part of their lives. Kevin’s mother also plans activities and trips to bring our family together. It is a group effort to make memories and share our lives.
As my husband packs up the toys/bikes until the next visit home and we are missing the sound of children’s laughter, memories take me back to Bolivia. Watching a very little Taylor setting out snack to prepare for the children who will come to church. My mind sees Grace helping in the nursery and watching out for her little brother after church so Kevin and Beth can minister to others. My heart sees Titus’ smile as he is out on visitation, inviting people to church.
I try to encourage our grandchildren as they are a part of the life and ministry in Bolivia. I talk to them about how they have a major role in helping to lead others to Christ – and they are laying up eternal rewards…
As our children and grandchildren have had the privilege of being a part of multiple countries and cultures, I have also shared that experience. I’m thankful for the role God has given me as mother and grandmother.
Today, as I walk out across the farm by myself, with tears in my eyes, I ponder all these things in my heart – and look forward to all the memories we will make together and treasures laid up forever.