Dear Mom and Dad,
I can’t imagine how hard the decision must have been for you to move overseas with a 10 and 13 year old. I know that you wanted to go while we were younger and when that didn’t work out, it seems it would have been easier for you to wait until we grew up and made you empty nesters. I’m so glad you didn’t.
Moving at 13 was not easy and I’m sure that my grumpy teenage-self didn’t help your stress levels. I’m glad that didn’t sway you from moving overseas.
You knew that God had called you. I complained that God had called you. I argued that he had called you but hadn’t called me. I was just being drug along. Thank you for dragging me.
What my 13 year-old-self didn’t realize was that God had called me. He had planned for me to move to Africa exactly when we did, to move back to America when we did, and to repeat that cycle several times. It wasn’t easy and I surely wasn’t grateful. But looking back, now seeing how that story would unfold, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.
It was because I moved at a difficult and impressionable age that I can connect and truly relate with kids and teens who are about to do the same thing. I wasn’t the poster-child missionary kid who was thrilled to move and was excited for the adventure. That has been so valuable in connecting with kids who are also struggling because I can honestly say, “I have been there.”
Thank you for not expecting me to be happy during the many transitions. For letting me grieve. For holding me when I cried all night long in the airport hotel the night before we left for Africa and again the whole plane-ride from Africa back to America. You never once told me to put on a happy face or to remember how blessed I was to have the opportunity to live overseas. It would take time, maturity, and space for me to truly understand how blessed I really was to have that opportunity.
Thank you for listening when a wise woman told you that I needed to stay in America for a full school year instead of uprooting yet again. Not only was that temporary stability so important for my mental health, but that was also the year that I met my now husband. How different life would be if that hadn’t happened!
Thank you for taking our family to four months of live-in counseling so that we could learn to be healthy and functional. I’m sure that it took a considerable amount of humility on your part to admit that we needed help and looking back, I think it was life-altering for the future of our family. Our time there is a primary reason why we all have a great relationship today.
Our family didn’t have the easiest overseas experience, but looking back, I see God’s hand in all of it. It has been a joy to begin to see how our life in Africa has influenced my passions and goals, impacted the way I want to raise my own family, and given me the opportunity to work with families who are starting their own journey of moving overseas. I’m sure we have only begun to see a glimpse of the big-picture-plan that God had for moving us to Africa, and it is already so amazing.
Thank you for following HIM in spite of me.