What have we done?

We had dinner with the team that’s on the ground tonight.  Although Dan isn’t leading it, one of the many blessings of being so small is that we can all get together and share, expanding our little family one team member at a time.

I got to chatting with one of the ladies.  I’m not a chatter, as most of you know, but something about her put me at ease, and I found myself talking as if I had known her for a long time.  At some point, she asked my girls if they enjoy living here.  The one who made the decision to return after she graduated nodded her head and smiled.  The one who is desperate to spread her wings and soar smiled softly and shrugged a bit, hesitant.  I winced.  My automatic “Missionary mom” reaction is to nudge her under the table, wanting her to wax poetically on the wonderful life she’s had here.  I stopped myself–I can’t force the children’s reactions and feelings.

My new friend then asked me if I thought there were things that the kids have missed by growing up here.  I don’t remember what I said, which tells me that I didn’t say what I should have.  I do think that there are things that they have missed.  I remember in 2007, when we had to return unexpectedly for my grandmother’s funeral.  It was the end of September, and high school football season was in full swing.  I was in the marching band, and I lived at football games during high school.  During our short time there, Dan and Daniel went to what would be Daniel’s first and only high school football game.  I couldn’t go, and I found myself a bit jealous.  I wanted to see the halftime show, cheer for the underdog and snuggle up to my hubby on a chilly night.  I don’t remember Daniel being terribly impressed with the whole thing (he would have enjoyed it more if they had presented an impromptu performance of Hamlet during halftime, I’m sure), but I do remember the nostalgia for what I had, that my children won’t.  On the other hand, my children have a passion for soccer and zip-lining through the rainforest canopy, so I suppose it’s a fair trade.  🙂

I started thinking about what the children have “missed”.  People, most definitely.  My girls, especially, are very close to my sister and my sister-in-law.  I know they miss them terribly, and although Facebook is a wonderful tool, it doesn’t let you stay up late watching really dumb movies and laughing at all of the cheesy lines.  Patrick has missed getting to know our families in the US.  They all love him dearly and are so excited to see him, but it always takes just a bit for him to warm up–they are strangers for just that brief time until his little mind pulls it all together.

There are things that they have missed.  But then…they have experienced a life that I could never have imagined growing up.  For the last four years, Heather has spent four days every February deep in the jungle, ministering to the children there.  She gets there by climbing into a dugout canoe and going four hours down the river.  She jumps off of cliffs into the Amazon river.  She spends her Wednesdays at the children’s hospital, praying with families who don’t know if their baby is going to make it through the night.  More than once she’s come home in tears, because one of her little ones lost the battle.

Kristina is our “baby whisperer”.  She can take the grubbiest, most unhappy little one and in an instant have them quiet and smiling.  Whether it’s a baby in the nursery at church or a baby in some remote village somewhere, her magic touch is always the same.  She mentors middle-school students on Wednesday nights, laughing and crying with them, walking them through the toughest years of school.

Our children may have missed out on some of the things that we consider “rites of passage” in the US, but their experiences here, whether they ever leave the borders of the United States again or not, have given them a worldview that no amount of book learning and Sunday School could ever have provided.

I can’t make the children say what I want them to say.  I can only pray that when they are talking to someone, and shrug their shoulders a little, that the meaning is clear.  “Yes, living here can be difficult, and sometimes I just wish I could go back to the US…but when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t change a thing”.

Advertisements

Why?

First, let me start off by stating that I HATE confrontation.  If you back me into a corner, I’m just going to sit down and cry.  It’s what I do.  I am raising three children who THRIVE on confrontation, and one who seems to be headed in that general direction.  The hamsters in my head are stressed, to say the least.

Just because I hate confrontation doesn’t mean that I don’t have an opinion on something.  I generally do, and I don’t mind sharing it as long as you promise me (in writing…notarized…) that you aren’t going to rip my head off if you don’t like it.  Unfortunately, I usually DO get my head ripped off, which means I keep a lot to myself.  And then get accused of not talking, or being rude, or arrogant…but that’s a whole ‘nother therapy session.

Dan Cathy was asked his opinion.  By a CHRISTIAN publication.  And he gave it.  The United States a free country, folks.  Opinions are ALLOWED to be expressed.  Even if they differ from the opinion of other people.  I live in a country where expressing your opinion can land you in jail, if you happen to “make a government official uncomfortable”.  What would happen in this country if, every time someone voiced an opinion, they threw them in jail?  And before anyone jumps on that bandwagon, we are NOWHERE NEAR that, so don’t go there.  Period.  Mr. Cathy has an opinion, based on his personal beliefs.  Again, we’re allowed to have those.  It’s what makes us human. And it’s what makes this country what it is.  And yes, I am well aware of the organizations that he supports.  I don’t tell him what to do with his money, and I don’t want him telling me what to do with mine.  If you don’t like his beliefs, DON’T EAT THERE.  And as for these politicians who have declared that “no Chick-fil-a restaurant is ever allowed to open in their city because…” they need to get over themselves.  If we, as a nation, REALLY decided to ban institutions whose beliefs and policies we didn’t believe in, we would be walking everywhere (OPEC, anyone?), going around naked (check the tag in your shirt.  I got a dollar says it was made in a sweatshop somewhere), and just generally not enjoying life at all, based on the things we “need” to enjoy it to our standards.  Bottom line is, we’ve already proven that we can look the other way as long as we don’t have to give up our creature comforts.  We’re like that.  Every last one of us.

There are two problems with the whole chicken debacle.  The first is that Christians have spent way too long keeping quiet.  The only ones who make any noise are the ones who are so obnoxious that they generally embarrass the rest of us with their ridiculous behavior.  Case and point?  Westboro Baptist Church.  They are CONSTANTLY in the news, because they make noise.  It’s the wrong kind of noise, and I don’t believe for a second in their brand of Christianity, but nevertheless, they are heard.  And because most of the rest of us keep very quiet, Westboro and all of the other noisy, off-base groups end up speaking for us by default.  For that reason, the standing-in-line thing yesterday was a good thing, IF YOU DID IT RIGHT.  If you went in to “prove” something to the gay couple sitting in the corner, you didn’t do it right.  If you went in because, as a Christian, you were standing up for your right to have your own beliefs, and to express those beliefs, then you did it right.  I didn’t go to Chick-fil-a yesterday.  For starters, I can’t eat their food without my stomach doing the “I hate you and I’m going to make you pay dearly” dance for the next 12 hours.  And there is no chicken sandwich in the world that is good enough for me to fight traffic and crowds and stand in line for two hours.  Even if it comes with waffle fries.

The other side of the coin in the homosexual debate.  I BELIEVE, based on my PERSONAL BELIEFS, that marriage should be between a man and woman.  It’s my PERSONAL belief.  Mine.  I own it. If you and I have different belief systems, then I cannot, in any reasonable conversation, expect you to have the same beliefs that I do.  I can respect that.  This does not mean that you get to call the media and lay me out publicly because I don’t agree with you.  My personal beliefs do not mean that we can’t be friends.  Or at least they shouldn’t.

Legalizing marriage between homosexuals has been at the forefront of the last two elections, if not more.  OK.  If we are truly a “Christian” nation, then no, we don’t legalize it, HOWEVER, we are doing everything in our power to tell God where to get off when it comes to running our country.  No prayer in schools, or anything even remotely associated with a school.  Nothing even remotely religious anywhere near a government building or public area.  Our President won’t mention the name of Jesus when he speaks (and please don’t jump on the “he’s a Muslim or an atheist or worships his socks” train.  Just don’t), we no longer set aside a day of prayer (at least a recognized day)…we simply want God to butt out.  The bottom line is, we have to take a stand.  Period.  Either we declare from the White House on down that we, as a nation choose to honor God, or we declare from the White House that our country will not be run according to any belief system whatsoever.  And if we are going to declare that, then we need to realize that all bets are off.

My last point is this.  Jesus loves people.  It’s what He does. Does He hate sin?  Yup.  Including mine.  And that covers a lot of ground.  He told ME to love my neighbor.  He didn’t say love the neighbors who think the same way I do.  He said to love my neighbor.  If I had gone to a Chick-fil-a yesterday and stood there in my own righteousness, I would be just as guilty IF NOT MORE, than the person I am judging.  Not going there.  If you went yesterday to stand up for your right to be heard, as a Christian, then I applaud you.  If you went yesterday to “sock it to ’em” regarding the issue of homosexual marriage, then I’m sorry.  I can’t condone punching your neighbor.

This whole thing is way bigger than a chicken sandwich.  And I don’t think that we, as a nation, get that.  And that’s scary.