July 06, 2013

growing up abroad

We made a three-year commitment, initially.  That was five years ago.

The truth is, we're just not sure how long we'll stay.  We just...live.  Meanwhile, however, the years are stacking up, one on top of the other.  For Bright, Zion, Brave, and Jubilee, the longer we stay here the more likely they will spend their entire childhoods abroad.

There are things about that which are wonderful.  Our kids are really special kids!  They'll stand out in college.  People will notice how mature they seem in some ways, and how richly childish they still are in others.  Their worldview is exceedingly more vast than mine ever was.  They have a concept of the size of the world in which we live, and the ways in which language and culture shapes the individual, guiding each person like an internal compass through life.

But other things about growing up abroad are extremely difficult.  The Father has asked a lot of them!  We've found that our kids cope best when we, as their parents, recognize how hard their lives are and show the proper amount of sympathy.  Especially when people come and go, constantly.  In-and-out of their lives.  In and out.  In and out.  A new best friend for a few months, followed by a tearful goodbye.  A fabulous, trusted babysitter for 9 months, and then another tearful goodbye.  Etc.

Their lives are like trains on tracks.  People get on at one stop, ride for a while, and then get off at another stop down the line.  Our prayer is that they'll not tire of picking up passengers.  Our prayer is that they'll not close and lock their doors.

Most recently, the kids said goodbye to their babysitter, Bella.  She had been coming every Thursday evening all school year, forming a close bond with the kids.  Being a junior-higher, she was young enough to play with the kids, but being Bella, she was responsible enough to be a great sitter.  But alas, Bella moved back to America with her parents and big sister this month, to join a culture that is hers to claim, but one in which she has never lived.  Bella has also grown up abroad, and is no stranger to goodbyes:(

But though it was difficult for us to loose you, Bella, we wouldn't have traded the year we had with you in our home and in our hearts!  America will be a better place with you in it.
"Sheddy," the bear we inherited from Bella because clearly, Sheddy could not fit in her luggage.