What songs do you remember from your childhood? Special events? Family holidays?
I’ve got my share, growing up as the youngest of five children. Except for when my brothers locked the dog out of the room and tickled me to death or spanked me for each year of my birthday, most of my memories have a sweet glow around them.
- Skipping down the street with my mom.
- Having stories read to me in bed.
- Eating breakfast for our Christmas Eve dinner after church.
- Singing carols together as a family.
- Eating sardines and saltines with my dad.
Missionary Kids (MKs) have memories too.
I was reminded of this today, when my former sending organization put out a Facebook post recognizing a dear colleague of ours, as part of their 175th anniversary commemoration. Now 98 years young, he and his wife served over forty years in the Middle East, and it was a wonderful story on his life and service. Do you know what hit me?
Not only was he an MK from China, but he could still sing “Jesus Loves Me” in the language he learned in his childhood. I clicked on the audio and smiled. I heard, not the 98-year-old voice, but the six-year-old’s. I wondered what images were going through his mind as he sang.
Think about it. He left China when he was eleven. He grew up, got married, and spent almost forty-five years in the Middle East, speaking Arabic. He retired in the 1980s, returned to America, and has now lived almost another forty years outside of both those “foreign” countries. I know he can still speak Arabic, because I’ve seen him in the past few years, but Chinese from the 1920s?!
The memories you make with your children on the field will never leave them.
I worried over my two MK boys during our years overseas. I knew what they experienced could either scar them or bless them. However, I also have come to realize that even with the scars, the hard times, God can use such experiences to mature and grow them. Turning a negative into a positive doesn’t happen on its on, but requires the positive reinforcement only a parent can give.
- Focus on the good in your child’s day, not the bad.
- Talk through the hard times and help them to process what’s happened.
- Pray for and with your child.
- Make sure you’ve made time for your child in your day. Set apart a time each day (routine) that makes them the center of your attention as parents.
- Teach them how to seek Jesus’ help in the midst of struggles.
I pray that, if the Lord gives them long years, my boys will be able to sing an Arabic chorus when they reach their nineties, and when they do, they’ll picture a beautiful memory of days gone by.
I pray your children will too.
Grace and Peace