Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sending Your Kid on a Mission Trip

We have been getting a lot of flack ever since we started answering the question: "So where is your daughter".

"Haiti", we've been answering this week.


"Without you?"  They ask.

"Yes,"  we answer.


"Oh."  Followed by a long pause, then, "are you crazy?"

About her being in a third world country with high temperatures, higher humidity, lack of running water, malaria, cholera, goat meat and incredible government corruption?


They shake their heads, "Well I wouldn't let my kid go there."

So don't. I could be flippant and say "Keep your kid in a bubble.  They can see the world through the news because we all know how accurate that is."  Okay, yeah,Ireallydidsaythatacoupletimes.

Really, though, that would be hypocritical of me because I didn't go with my fifteen year old daughter to Haiti.  I am in the four walled insulated house with a light over my head, power cord hooked to the laptop, sipping my coffee and watching the outdoor temperature inch up from 42 degrees under partly cloudy skies.  In about five minutes I will navigate my sheepskined slippers to the fridge for a roll of Crescent Cinnamon Rolls and pop those in my convection oven.  After that I might mosey on into the bathroom where I will flush the toilet without even thinking.

So why send her?

Because she wanted to go.

All the stars aligned:

  • Two of her classmates/friends were also going
  • Their mothers were going
  • I can afford to send her
  • I trust the organization she's going with: Hope in Haiti
  • It is timed during Spring Break
  • She is covered in prayer

Who am I to tell her "no"?  Well, I do a lot, but on this?

She's traveled since she was nine months old.  She has been to a tiny remote island in the South Pacific so she knows what the tropics, the heat and humidity and tiny island life, is all about.  She has been to week long overnight camps since she was seven (she was one month shy of the age 8 cut off date, but they let her in anyways).  Last year, between grades eight and nine, she was home a total of three weeks during summer break because she was in Washington DC and New York (without us), band camp at a university across the state (without us), the interior part of Washington State (without us) with relatives and several little romps in between.  She barely waves goodbye to us, let alone hugs us goodbye!

She comes home tonight.  Tomorrow I will hear all about her trials and tribulations.  I will hear about the heat and the goat meat and the little girl she wants to bring home for us to adopt.  I don't know what else I will hear about because, honestly, I only know those little pieces.

And that's okay.  For now.

I am sure in the next week she will hit me up about going to Tennessee with some relatives to visit some relatives.  If it times out right, I will say yes.

Because, someday, she will move out of my house and on her own.  I'd rather it not be a big surprise (for either one of us) come that day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Guess I Miss Her - Empty Nest Spring Break

The kitchen is spotless - even the junk drawer.

I have decontaminated the laundry room floor and cleaned around the cupboard handles.

I stapled the sagging wire in the chicken coop (this even required me finding the - working - stapler.  and the staples).

I have been a flurry of activity since Monday morning.  Because Monday night I sent my fifteen year old daughter on an airplane to Haiti.  Without me.

The Haiti Team from Hope In Haiti

Talk about a leap off the cliff into empty nest syndrome.

Don't get me wrong; I am that parent who sent my seven year old to a week long overnight Christian camp, and have done so ever since.  Music camp.  Basketball camp.  Soccer camp.  Last year I sent her off to New York and Washington DC.

So I didn't think twice when she mentioned going to Haiti on a mission trip with two friends - and their mothers.  See that part - and their mothers.  I am not a total parent failure (well, not in this scenario; others, we're not talking about those).  I knew trusting adults from my own sphere of life were going to be with my kid.

Which led me to dinner last night with my husband in our operating-room-sterile dining room when it dawned on me that we both were exhausted from mundane activity.  Little projects that hadn't been done in years yet had to be accomplished in the ten minutes before we drove her to the airport or cleaning the grout lines in the bathroom because it was a chore where I could have my phone nearby in case it rang.

We subconsciously had to stay busy to not feel anything.  Sure, I was worried she packed too many skirts and too few t-shirts or that two camera batteries would not be enough or two rolls of toilet paper would be sorely insufficient (for the week!?).  All that was surface stuff.  On some subterranean level, I was worried about my kid flying thousands of miles away to a third world country - without air conditioning.  Worrying about stuff like her growing up.  

Proverbs 3:5  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding."

I am not expecting a phone call today.  I know her plane landed in Port au Prince and she went swimming at the host families house with a bunch of Haitian kids (none of them speaking the other's language).  I know today they are trekking four hours north to a tiny town with an orphanage and a school.  I know she is fine and in, not only a whole bunch of mother's hands, but in the hands of the Ultimate Father.  He's in charge.  Not me.

Which is really good.

Please pray for the group in Haiti this week, putting on a Vacation Bible School for 300 kids.