Missionary’s Kid Or Kid Missionary?
Jesse and I have been praying and preparing for the many facets of our transition abroad. A big prayer point has been around the girls, their hearts and their perspective of what God has called their mom and dad to. Change is not easy for anyone, but when you feel like you didn’t have a voice in it, it can feel deeply painful, especially to young hearts. Jesse and I were introduced to this idea of kid missionaries and missionary kids by a family who have raised all 4 of their kids on the mission field, from birth. The idea of children owning their call and role to the mission work feels critical to their ease in transition. The challenge is how do we help foster that feeling and what does that look like for 3 young girls?
For the beginning part of our preparation for the field, Jesse and I tried to protect the girls and guard their involvement. We were figuring out the process as God lead, so we didn’t want to cause pain or disappointment to the kids unnecessarily. As we moved through the process, conversations about our move and work became a part of everything we did. We could not keep the girls at a distance. As part of the preparation we surrendered our need to guard them from the preparation and invited them into the process with God. Through God’s leading we have found that the girls have become essential parts of the Brubaker Mission Team. Individually, they are realizing their role, how they can contribute and discovering how life changes through our obedience to the Lord. Their emotions mirror ours, excited, nervous, anxious, etc., but they are learning and growing in ways I could never have imagined.
The recent months for us have focused on packing, planning and fundraising. The girls are in these conversions, praying and brainstorming with us. Holding on to what is written in Isaiah 40:11, we move through each step with love and guidance from the Lord.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
For the packing, the girls have discussed the things they want to keep, take, give away and say goodbye to. It’s hard as an adult to make decisions on these things, but it’s even harder to watch your children have to go through this. I have discovered sweet memories from my childhood in this packing process and want to ensure that one day, the girls will open a box and find special keepsakes that remind them of their childhood. The girls have some fun ideas for capturing their memories and moving forward. Being able to make new spaces quickly feel like home is important for their transitions from place to place. As the parents, Jesse and I are learning quickly what items are most important to creating a home to the kids. For Ida, there is a handmade quilt that is important to have on her bed and for Evelyn it’s her robe and book. Ginny loves the comfort of a book on CD at night to fall asleep to. We are learning what these items are and packing them in a very accessible way as we move from place to place. Ultimately what makes our home are the people in our family and Samson, but having a few familiar comforts is helpful too!
For the planning, the girls have been included in conversations of goodbye gatherings and the remaining time we have in the states. The girls have special people and places they want to spend time with before we move, just as Jesse and I have. Each step of this preparation is very much a family experience. We are lifting up one another and working together to ensure that the places in our hearts that feel delicate are tended to with care. We draw from each other’s excitement where we are lacking in ourselves. It is wonderful when the girls are motivated and energized and we can come alongside them and support them and also to be there in the hard place. Part of this is taking pictures of them in their rooms here, with friends and at their school, things that are meaningful to them they are leaving behind. We will be making a photo book for them to bring along to France. They can open up these books when they are missing these comforting familiar people and places.
Finally another big conversation Jesse and I have brought the kids in on has been our funding. This was a big challenge for us. As parents, we want the girls to not worry about money part of our mission, but it was impossible to keep them from these conversions. The girls really wanted to help and participate in the fundraising process. We discussed different ways each of the girls could use their gifts. Ida decided to create artwork to sell to raise needed funds and Evelyn wants to use her cooking skills to bake cookies and lemonade. It was a relief to allow the girls to participate in the fundraising rather than trying to discourage their involvement. They are excited to share our mission call with others. It is sweet to hear them explain from their perspective what we are moving towards. And on top of it all the girls are bringing more people into the conversation about God than we ever could have imagined.
Any way you slice it, this experience has been and will continue to be life changing. Our entire family entered this process to have God change us and move through us to transform the lives of others. Guarding our children to God’s transformation would only be detrimental. We pray they grow in their identity of being a kid missionary and God uses them for His work too.