As we end our time in Thailand, we are blessed to spend time on the beach, reconnecting as a family, doing family-ish things, and enjoying the natural beauty this amazing country offers. I’m doing lots of reflecting, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad, and often meanders through several points and lands on my children.
I remember reading something a friend had sent me about a mom who had written her kids a letter (to be read at a later time) explaining their time overseas. I think that’s smart, so here is my own version to my children. Feel free to snoop. 😉
James, Sam, Amelia, and Henry,
What an adventure we have had! I am so proud of you all for the courage, flexibility, and love you have shown over the last 6 months. You have strengthened muscles you never knew you had, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically (think of how much we rode our bikes!).
We have told you since the beginning of this crazy adventure that this was not only mom and dad’s “calling,” but yours as well. The Johnsons are a six-pack and God knew exactly who was included. And kiddos, you lived it. We watched you say good-bye, get sick on the airplane, meet oodles of new people, open your heart to those people, walk into a school for the first time in your life with teachers who didn’t look like you and greeted you with a funny bow. And you gathered your courage, and bowed back, and made friends and made up the words to the songs when you had no idea what they were singing about. You were brave. And more importantly, you showed faith. God is good and He is great, kiddos. And you learned that lesson hands-on. Sometimes he leads us places that are warm and fuzzy, and sometimes places that are really hard, but usually places that are some of each. No matter what, He is always in it.
You saw mom and dad at our best, and probably more often at our worst, and you watched us humbled before Him, completely dependent. We don’t like the ugly, but since it’s reality in this world, we want you to see Who can handle your ugly by showing you Who we trust with ours. God can handle it. Not only can He handle it, He embraces us through it. His love endures forever. Not hangs by a shoe-string, not limps along, not begrudgingly puts up with, but endures, presses on no matter how ugly.
You have learned at such a tender age that people are all people, which sounds really simple, but kiddos, I tell you we grown-ups screw that up all the time. But you all just got it. You ran with your friends and played games, whether in the village or the city or the slum. And it didn’t even matter that you spoke different languages, because playing soccer and badminton and having races requires hardly any words at all. And you figured out that smiles and joy don’t need translation.
So if you wonder why we took you on such a crazy adventure, well…this. All of this. Because we wanted you to know all of these things about God. Not know them because we told you, but because you saw them and felt them yourselves. This is what it means, sweet ones. This is who He is. When you look in people’s eyes, remember they have a story and they were made in His image and how on the other side of the world, people were just exactly the same as us, just different. Same, same…but different. And it will be the same with everyone you ever meet.
I hope this time in your life settles deep down inside of you, and you can’t ever get it out, because then you will know God better and depend on Him more. And THAT was the point. That is always the point. Love you to bits.