Friday, September 30, 2011


...or why we're taking the kids to Swaziland next year.

When Jim and were in Swaziland and God made it so clear that we're to move our family there, we immediately knew we wanted the kids to visit there before we moved. And over the last year, that's just been confirmed again and again.

We've had the blessing of spending time with missionaries who have lived overseas with kids and what we keep hearing in different ways is that we need to make the landing on the mission field as soft as possible for our family.

For some, like the Espys in Thailand, one of the things this entailed was getting a puppy and kitten for their daughter (and the wife, too). And believe me, when my kids heard this, it just fueled their pet dreams and got them fantasizing about puppies and kittens and ferrets and bunnies and ponies and gifaffe!

For another family, they made sure that they set aside one day or evening every week that was pure family fun time. This same missionary advised that the family get away for entire weekends at a time on a regular basis.

There are some organizations that won't even let a family with teenagers move onto the mission field. They've just seen these situations go bad too many times.

We hope that a lot of factors will make it different for our kids, that it will be a positive experience for them over all. Not that there won't be struggles, there will be. After all, we have struggles here in our own culture. But we're hoping that we're preparing them now as best as we can for their new life of living and loving in Swaziland.

We are able to look back now at the way we've raised them and see that God had His hand in our parenting all along the way, long before we knew He was calling us to move to Africa. Whether it is our zero-tolerance policy where food pickyness is concerned (because they will for sure be eating a lot of new and unusual foods) or the fact that they've been homeschooled for their whole lives (and will be educated that way in Africa, too), these aspects along with so many other aspects of their American lives will hopefully help ease the transition to their lives in Africa.

We have seen how deeply impacted Anna, Betsie, and David have been by their time spent in serving overseas. All three of them, as a result of their missions trips, have come back changed, willing to sacrifice for the "least and the lost", and very supportive of our decision to follow God's call to Swaziland. In fact, David has said on more than one occasion that he is actually excited about moving over there and serving God, as opposed to before his time in Peru when he was just going along with the move out of respect and obedience. We want to help provide this kind of experience for our other four children.

What we desire for our 2012 Swaziland trip is two-fold.

First, we want it to be a missions trip. We want to be used by God to encourage the missionaries, ministers, and Christians there as well as spend time loving on orphans and children-at-risk at carepoints. We will spend time at the Bheveni Carepoint, where we ministered last year and have two sponsored girls, and at the Moriah Carepoint in Big Bend. We hope to also get to visit some other points of ministry as well as make home visits.

Second, we want our kids to see what life will be like for them in their new home. We will spend time staying in the town we believe God is leading us to move to, attend church services, shop at stores, meet friends of mine from my living-in-Swaziland-during-the-80's days, go hiking in the mountains, visit the craft market, look at houses in preparation for buying one, see cool African animals, and spend lots of time with other missionary kids. I want my kids to be able to see that they are regular kids just like them with toys and computers and video games and, yes, pets. We want them to be able to talk to them about what it was like to move to Swaziland and what it is like to live there. And I want Jim and me to get to continue to learn from missionary parents about how we can make the landing as soft as possible for our family.

We know God has called us. We are going despite the obstacles, despite the concerns, despite the fears.

We believe strongly that God has amazing things planned for our family as we leave behind our life in Mississippi and move to Swaziland. We want to do all we can to help that transition go as smoothly as possible. There's no preventing the missing of loved ones, the yearning for pets left behind, and the struggles we will face that are just part of living in a 3rd world country, but we can do things that will help them cope with those emotions and stay focused on the gift that God is giving us.

Because truly, that's what this calling is, a blessing and honor that we want to be able to receive with prepared hearts full of thankfulness, joy, and faith.

And these are the reasons why we are taking our kids to Swaziland next year.

Please pray for us as we lay down padding and pillows for our big, fat, African landing.


Leslie said...

I'm excited for ya'll and love reading about this! (((Elysa)))

Elysa said...

Thank you, Leslie! Your enthusiasm blesses me. I've needed encouragement this week.

Hey there! said...

pIt will be an amazing experience for your family!! We always keep a few things "normal" - Friday is still pizza and movie night, we still have our homeschooling and we dive right into finding a church home and those friends to walk along side. THEN .... it is just going for the ride, seeing what God brings before us and growing closer to each other and Him through the difficult times. Journal every day, take a lot of pictures and learn how to make those special treats from scratch. (Who knew you could make your own marshmallows *grin* )