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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Support your Local MP
By Donna Haug
11/19/06


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“What comes to mind when you think of Africa?” I asked the children seated on the floor of the Blakeview Community Church. I nodded to a dark haired little tyke with big, dark eyes whose hand was waving excitedly in the air. “Yes? What do you think?”

“Ah … Umm … Uh …”

I smiled encouragingly at the child. “Did you forget? How about you?”

A sweet looking girl with long blonde hair lowered her hand and answered bravely, “Lions! And giraffes. And monkeys. And zebras …”

“Okay. Those are all in Africa. Besides animals, what else is in Africa?” Now answers started flying like mosquitoes at dusk.

“Safaris.”

“Starving children.”

“Lots of poor people.”

“That’s right. Now, what do you think it is like to be a Missionary Kid in Africa? What do you think MK’s do when they are not studying or doing chores?” I looked around, trying to avoid calling on the little hand waving just above those big dark eyes. Seeing it was impossible to avoid him, I pointed at him again.

“Umm … Ahh ... Play?”

“Yes! Play. Jonathan, could you tell us a little bit about what it is like for you to play with the children in your neighborhood?” I slowly drew my children into the conversation. One by one, Jonathan, Esther and Jesse started talking excitedly about what it was like to play soccer with 30 little African children in a village, have Christmas on a beach on the Indian Ocean, travel to five different countries in Southern Africa, and crawl around inside the rusting hulks of abandoned tanks. They talked about what home school was like and of helping guide dad through an almost impassible road with his 4x4 truck just to get to a village where he was to minister. They described how ecstatic the neighborhood kids were when they decided to give them some of their toys. This was their life, and they were excited to have a chance to talk about it.

As children’s church ended, a few of the children stood around my little MK’s chatting and comparing their lives. They had really clicked with some of them.

I thought back to my deep concerns about bringing my children along for this weekend. Much of their church experience over the past four years had been in villages. Each village spoke its own dialect, and someone had to translate from the Portuguese trade language into their local language. They had learned catchy tunes, had mimicked words that could have been “Barney’s purple” for all we knew, and had learned to play the African drums. The bulk of their spiritual growth happened in our own home. We felt it was now important for our children to be grounded in our home church where they would receive teaching geared specifically to them. We had made a decision that we would not do much traveling as a family this year. This weekend was an exception to the rule, but I was very proud of them. They had done so well.

My thoughts flew back to some harsh words a well-meaning woman had said to me the week before. “How can you take your children to a place like Africa. It is just fine for you to decide this is what you want to do. But, it is not fair to your children. They are missing out on so much,” she had said unexpectedly as she passed me in the hallway of the church.

I am sure she had no idea how much I agonized over many of these same issues as a parent. I want what is best for my children. Are there disadvantages that they face for having grown up overseas? Yes. However, in my opinion, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. My children have seen so much of the world already. They speak another language and value different cultures. They have learned that it is not all about them. They have witnessed people crying aloud while watching the Jesus Film. They have watched pastors hungrily studying the Bible to be more equipped to lead their people. They are a part of the answer to that need. Am I a bad parent for allowing my children to have these experiences as a part of their growing up years? I see it as an investment. Will you stand with me?

I am an MP* – and I need your support.

*Missionary Parent


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This article has been read 972 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dolores Stohler11/23/06
You've made the right decision! Your kids are probably having the best learning experience they'll ever have in their lives. It's a rich, rich heritage that they'll be grateful for. I urge you to buy a copy of Dr. Wess Stafford's book "Too Small To Ignore." Wess grew up in an African village and, as CEO of Compassion Int'l, he brings great empathy to his job. What an exceptional person!
Jan Ross11/27/06
Awesome ... and I agree 100%. My only regret is that I didn't get started earlier when all our children were young. But then, maybe I did since we adopted three special needs kids and raised them along with our natural kids. Surely that was a mission field in itself! LOL My dream now is to have my adult children accompany me to Kenya or India and "taste and see that the Lord is good" through the eyes of those who crave His presence, His provision, and His love! Excellent story! Thank you so much for sharing! I applaud you for what you do and for being brave enough to do what most only dream they could do for their children! You're an awesome MP!
william price11/27/06
I love learning, being ministered to and totally impressed with a great writer all at the same time. Excellent job, Donna. I loved the perspective. God bless.
Shanti Singh11/27/06
Thank you for sharing this. I know many parents who struggle with the same thing. I'm thinking that I will need to pass on a link to this story to them as I'm sure it will minister to them. Thanks so much for being a blessing!
Bonnie Derksen11/27/06
I would like to add my thanks to those that have commented before me. Well written, Donna. Beautiful flow through the entire writing. You did a great job of setting the stage for us, as readers, to hear the hearts of your children. I'm glad that you "hinted" my way here.
Jan Ackerson 11/28/06
The first half, especially, was just so real--you gave the children such personality in so few words. Awesome.
Marty Wellington 11/28/06
Wonderful testimony to God's work in your family's life. Even your children are witnesses to other children about God's magnificent work in Africa. If that isn't confirmation that you're doing the right thing in including them in your missions journey I don't know what is. Blessings to you~
Joanne Sher 11/29/06
Excellent telling! I was definitely engaged fully in this! You made me think differently about this issue, and I thank you for it!
dub W11/29/06
Wonderful testimony to God's work, and as your question, I back you 100%. What a wonderful life you have given your children. A basis of life than no other child will have and memories that will follow into adulthood.
Corinne Smelker 11/29/06
You know, when I was growing up in Africa (and taking those same impassable roads to tribal villages) I used to feel sorry for the kids in America and Canada and Europe because I felt they were missing out! I too was lucky to learn 3 and 4 languages, mingle with people who were completely different from me in culture, race, looks, economic status and so on; and I loved every moment of it.

I loved being so close to nature, and not having a TV and having to make my own entertainment, and learning all about the animals that surrounded me. That comment made by the well-intentioned woman shows me just how ignorant she truly is to the wonders (and hardships) of Africa.
Sara Harricharan 11/29/06
A wonderful read. Good job. :)
Cheri Hardaway 11/29/06
I believe as your other readers, that your children are richer for the missionary life you have given them. America can be an extremely selfish place, and it would be good for all to realize, as your children have, that "our existence in this great big world is not all about us." People need to see real purpose in life to grow into productive individuals. You have given this gift to your family. Great job, in both living and writing! Blessings, Cheri
Debbie Sickler11/29/06
I think you've made an awesome choice for your kids. What better way for them to experience life, than to actually live it? So many of our children (my own included) have no idea what the world is like outside of the virtual worlds on the latest game systems. Your children are very fortunate that you are giving this opportunity to explore the world. :)
Catrina Bradley 11/29/06
What a great experience for your children! They are so much richer in all ways, and I would think espcially spiritually, for having been "MK's". Wonderful story, captured my attention and held it till the end.
Standing with you in support!!
Donna Emery11/29/06
An excellent testimony, and I agree that you made the right decision! Following God's call is never wrong, and your children are getting invaluable knowledge and experience. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks for sharing this.
Ruth Neilson11/29/06
You have my support, MP ;-) I loved this piece and actually kinda understand where you are coming from. I'm a military brat (retired for 12 years now) and my mother and I have been talking about if she would have done anything differently or not. I treasure the experiences that I have had and don't even want to exchange them for anything.
Marie Fieldman11/29/06
That lady didn't now what her own kids were missing out on! Some of the things you mentioned your children get to see are really quite a priviledge. It sounds like a healthy environment, better than some of the 'normal' situations.

Well written. I could imagine the class very easily.
Edy T Johnson 11/30/06
I'm so glad I came here to thank you for your comment on my "parent" story. This is such wonderful reading. I bet it would be fun to hear your lessons in person, right along with the children.

I've heard others express the same words of disapproval you heard. Such women need reminding that God is just as able to care for us in Africa as in America. The important thing is to be in the center of God's will, no matter where that is.

Dear MP, you definitely have my 100% support, too. God's best to all of you MPs.