I’m so very excited to post this blog written by my mother Sharon Lane! I hope that you enjoy her writing about how it is to be a mother of a missionary! I want to personally thank her for all that she does for our family and for the sacrifices that she makes also!
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
Reality set in as I watched them walk through the gate at the airport . . .
Our daughter, Beth Lane White, knew from the time she was a very young girl that she wanted to serve the Lord in ministry and be a missionary. So, in my heart, through the years, I knew that it was a real possibility that one day she would go to a foreign country to live. But there are some things in life that you can never really prepare yourself for.
After all of the goodbye celebrations with family and friends, came the time to take Beth, Kevin and our young granddaughter to the airport. As parents, we have an established relationship with our grown children. They know us and we know them. Beth, Kevin and I have a close relationship and I knew we would continue to be part of each other’s lives.But, the reality that hit me was that my grandchild would not know me very well; unless I found ways to get to know her and to let her know me. That is what love is all about. When you love someone, you want to be with them. So I determined that I would find ways to know my grandchild, regardless of how far away she lived.
Thankfully, we live in the generation where there is technology and many ways of communication. But, we also live in a fast paced generation. We are all very busy and have to plan time for those we love.
I am very thankful for the advice from a veteran missionary. He told my husband and me that the face of missions was changing. He said the world was much ‘smaller’ than when he first went to the mission field. 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 encouraged us to have an important role in our family’s ministry and help them by going to visit and having them come back occasionally to the states. He suggested we spend as much time as possible with our grandchildren so they could know us and know their country also. He said the time home for Kevin and Beth would enhance their ministry on the field. I have always remembered his words.
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. So, I try to make ways to stay in touch and make memories.
Today, our first granddaughter is now 11 years old and the Lord has blessed us with two other grandchildren, Taylor and Titus!
To make memories while they are on the mission field, I . . .
1) Talk to them 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) See them on Skype. 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 to them. 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.
During the times they have been home visiting, we try to use the time wisely to make memories. We have a ‘bucket list’ of activities each one of us would like to do together. 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. When Grace was little, she would invite me into her ‘house’ under our magnolia tree. Taylor is our ‘farm girl’ and loves feeding the ducks and chickens and bringing in the eggs. Titus looks for ‘special rocks’ everywhere we go. He gave me his most prized rock and asked me to put it on my vanity and look at it each day so I wouldn’t forget him! 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! J
When they were home on furlough, I had the great joy of homeschooling our granddaughters, with the help of their parents. What precious times, opportunities and memories to learn and grow together!
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 . . . to 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.
So, one of the main helps I try to do for Kevin and Beth’s ministry is 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 in Bolivia. They have a part in every person who comes to know Christ in Bolivia – and they are laying up eternal rewards.
I’m thankful the world is ‘smaller’ and we can make memories living each day for God’s glory. As our children and grandchildren have had the privilege of being a part of multiple countries and cultures, I have also shared that experience, to participate in lives of people all over the world. 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 and joy in my heart, I ponder all these things in my heart – and look forward to all the memories we will make together and treasures laid up forever.