Saturday, October 31, 2015

Early Memories and a Sense of Loss

The theme of grief and loss once again crossed my path as I pondered a blog published on Communicating Across Boundaries at the end of last month.  The writer was reflecting on how some of our TCK memories are intertwined with those from whom we "inherited" our toys as their owners grew up and or left our country. It brought back a vague personal memory from when my parents felt led to leave Brazil that still causes me to ponder.

Prayer Card -- my parents would have been in their mid to late 20's.
When my family left Brazil, I, at nearly 5-years old, had to give away my precious stuffed bear (probably along with many other toys).  I have spent several hours today looking for a photo I know I've seen of me with that bear. By today's stuffed animal standards it was fairly unattractive, but it was mine. I remember we went to an orphanage, where I was coaxed to give the bear to another child. In those foggy early memories, being with all the children was overwhelming to me, and I don't know that I cried or resisted but I'm pretty sure I wasn't doing it from a charitable heart.

After my parents returned to the US, they served as the US administrator for their mission and then my father was a teacher at the Bible School where they met. In both situations they were funded as "faith missionaries" receiving little support. Our finances were extremely tight.  I remember stories of God's provisions when the cupboard was bare. (I had a hard time believing that pot of split pea soup was God's provision, but that's another story...)

One year I received a stuffed toy for Christmas--a turtle I named Myrtle. It was several years later I learned my parents  had "shopped" the missionary barrel for our gifts that year. While I wouldn't have ever chosen a turtle for myself, mangy Myrtle has made it to Japan and back--staying packed in a box most of the while. She's somewhere upstairs in one of our yet-to-be unpacked boxes. She represents my parents' sacrifice and love, and provides one of a few links to my childhood.

I don't feel angry with my parents for the choices they had to make in leaving Brazil--I'm pretty sure they let me bring a dolly with me. (I lost her along the way, but still have some of the hand-made doll clothes that were hers.) But there is a sense of  sadness when I think of these things.

Visiting with my Mom the year she died.
When we were going through my mother's china in the year before her death from breast cancer, I asked her about a demitasse coffee service that she had from Brazil.  She told us that she had to sell the complete set of china that went with it when they left, and this was all she could bring with her.  I think that was the point where I realized that she probably left more of what was precious to her than I did.

When we teach transitions to missionaries and those heading overseas for the first time, one of the concepts we talk about is enabling your children to choose what "treasured possessions" they want to take with them. Space is usually limited--but allowing them to choose what to take in their backpack or box enables them to make the transition easier.

I do hope that the child who received my bear found comfort from him. And kids, if I haven't dealt with her, you don't have to hang onto Myrtle when the time comes to go through our stuff...just saying.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Fifty Years and counting!

Yesterday we honored Liz Howard for her 50 years of service with SIM. She is currently a member of our MK ministry, impacting both our babies and our college age kids. She also grew up in SIM, going to Africa at 6 months old. Liz has fascinating stories of life for MK's in those years. She brings great wisdom and a wonderful, positive outlook on life to our Member Care team. Happy 50 years + from today!