22 years ago last July 7th, our little family left the security of our Canadian homeland and flew off into the wide blue yonder toward a tiny tropical island nation, the Philippines. We had burned all our bridges, packed up our four kids, and headed into the unknown.
We had no job description awaiting us, no friends, no home, nothing. Only our suitcases packed with clothes, toys, books, and hearts full hopes. The tears we shed at the leave-taking and on the flights dried and we arrived excited, exhausted, and running on adrenaline.
Looking back, I would not recommend doing that. Looking back,I see that we had more energy and enthusiasm than wisdom. We were completely unprepared for anything in missions...the culture shock, the interpersonal difficulties of working within a mission, the food, the language barrier, the political upheaval of a nation in turmoil...we had no frame of reference for anything, and no one had told us anything in advance.
How we survived the first two years, I'm not sure. We cried a lot. We prayed. We rejoiced at every little opportunity that came our way. We embraced the Filipinos that we met and began learning the language, the first missionaries in our denomination to do so. So many lonely times, our children crying for familiar food and the friends they had left behind. We absorbed the pain of misunderstanding of fellow missionaries and the alienation we felt. Little by little, it became- not easy, but less difficult.
Twenty-two years is a long time. Two plus decades. Four children raised and grown and gone. Another new one adopted and started on the road to a wonderful life. Ministries started, grown, and turned over to others. We have learned to think in another language. We've become Asian in so many ways... western culture is not so familiar now. We've been so tired...we have thrown ourselves into this life and pushed so hard...gone in so many different directions...we are sometimes worn out. At least I am.
I feel a sense of great accomplishment, though. It feels like for however long we remain here, It's bonus time. It's the icing on the cake. Life is easier now...a new job for Dad, retirement for me, Emma to raise, grandchildren to entertain, and a bright future to look forward to.
So, my dear children, on that very special day, July 7th, i hope that you all had happy memories of our trip here...and I hope that God was merciful enough to put a bit of a rosy glow on the life you lived in Asia, if only for that day.