Saturday, March 15, 2008

Fun on the Field

Many missionaries are often concerned about how well their children will adapt to the foreign field. How will it affect them emotionally and socially?
From our experience, both as missionaries in Mexico way back in the 1980's and now some twenty years later--and from talking to other missionary families, it seems that the younger the children are when they go to the field the better they will adapt. When we went to Mexico in 1984, our firstborn son was just nine months old, and during the next 6.5 years the Lord blessed us with three more daughters. So their early childhood years were spent growing up in Mexico--and they never knew anything different. Our son attended a bilingual elementary school, made friends and learned to speak Spanish fluently.
Now twenty years later, on a very different mission field, we have a "second" family--Rebekah is ten, and Leanna five--and they are still young enough that the change has been fairly easy for them. We have been here for almost a year, and they seem very happy in every aspect. They are both home schooled, are making friends in the neighborhood and learning Spanish. I am sure there are times when Rebekah misses her friends, but it hasn't been as difficult as it would be had she been a few years older when we made the move. Leanna on occasion has cried for her older sisters who are in the states attending Bible college, but it is very short lived.

I feel so blessed that Rebekah and Leanna have each other. They are best friends. They play so well together. Just this morning they were in their bedroom creating a "Swiss Family Robinson" tree house, fending off pirate attacks, keeping house, and recreating life on a deserted island. Other days they are Laura and Mary Ingalls, living in their "Little House on the Prairie." They don bonnets and long calico skirts, carrying their lunch pails, attending school in the one room schoolhouse, and ride Pa's wagon into Walnut Grove. It is very amusing to listen to their imaginations run wild, and the dialogues they carry on with each other. They serve each other tea made on a make believe stove, as they chatter about Harriet and Nellie Olsen.

Another favorite past time of the girls is keeping house with their family of Polly Pockets. Don't ask me how they ever got interested in these tiny 5 inch dolls, (I think it was one of their friends from church or on deputation) but they will play with them for hours, changing the clothes made from a stretchy kind of latex, and accessories smaller than my fingernail. I have to be careful not to vacuum them up should one get left on the floor. They never seem to grow tired of playing with them.

Dad gets involved in the fun, taking the girls to play tennis, rollerblading, or bike riding in our neighborhood. The roads here are too steep for riding here around our apartment, but we load everything up in the van and go to some areas near the ocean that are more level. We also play baseball on a vacant lot. Doug makes it tons of fun for them, and there never seems to be a dull moment--whether chasing them pretending to be a giant lizard, or acting like a monkey on top of Mt. Teide--he loves to have a good time.

Rebekah loves to read and make things, whether it be baking cookies, sewing, painting, or making cards. She also enjoys her piano lessons. Leanna loves life--and her little fingers like to get into everything. She likes to play with small objects-- playing with all the little pieces of a game or puzzle. She wraps "presents" and loves playing with tape, scissors, and all other kinds of fun things. She is also a hard and willing worker--pulling up a chair in the kitchen to make dinner. I have learned to be a little more patient and try to give her something to help--even if it means a little more flour on the counter, etc.
I hope they are making good memories--like the ones I have of my early childhood, and the good times we had. Growing up on the mission field is something they will always remember.

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