Hangin' Out in Karongue

Hangin' Out in Karongue

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Dad, he said that to you"

Learning a second language is a truly humbling experience. To be quite honest, the word "humbling" is not nearly strong enough of a word to use. Over the last six months I have thought of many other words that better describe the experience (I only thought the words because to actually speak them out loud would surely damage my witness!), but you get the idea. It is humbling.

Let me share with you a brief snapshot to illustrate my point:

Last Thursday our family went to the annual "La Fete du Lac des Nations" here in Sherbrooke. It is sort of like a big carnival or fair with a lot of singing and fireworks every night. A pretty cool experience for the family for an evening.

Like most carnivals, there was a section with various vendors who were demonstrating their merchandise and eager to talk with those that passed by. One such vendor was selling wooden toys and was all too ready to place a toy in the hands of my oldest two children for them to give a test-drive. It was a wooden ball attached to a stick by a string with a cup-like apparatus on the end. The goal was to catch the ball in the cup.

Now don't forget that we live in Quebec and that they speak French in Quebec. (This fact will be very important for the rest of the story.)

During his sales-pitch he showed us that while the toys with the painted wooden balls looked much flashier, those that were plain, unpainted wood worked just as well. And of course, they were cheaper. In an attempt to hold our attention and get in the most words he could while we stood before him, he spoke incredibly fast. I must admit, I was not really able to understand everything that he said. I knew it had something to do with the wooden ball, paint, and him wanting our money.

Later that evening, as we waited for the fireworks to begin, Thea started talking with me about the wooden toy. She said, "It is cool that you can paint those wooden balls with finger nail polish and it will create a hard shell around them. But only one coat or two at the most because more than that and it will throw off the weight of the ball and make it more difficult to catch in the cup."

As I looked at her with my infamous "what-on-earth-are-you-talking-about" look, I said, "How do you know so much about that toy?" She said, "Dad, he said that to you. That is what he told you when we were talking to him. You didn't get that?"

No, I did not get that. But I am glad that my nine year old did. And I hope that one day soon I will be able to get. But until that day, and I am sure many, many years afterward, I will remain humbled by our quest to learn a new language. And I will always make sure that I travel with Ezra or Thea to help me get it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Wait! Don't forget to pray!"

The other night I happened to still be awake studying when I heard the door to the children's room creak open. That creak was quickly followed by the little pitter-patter of Hosanna's feet as she came out of the room and ran to me.

"I had a bad dream," she said. "It was a dream about spiders that were everywhere in my bed and they were all over me. And I am scared that there really are spiders in my bed now."

Putting on my reassuring dad voice, I told her that it was just a bad dream and that there were not any spiders in her bed and that there was nothing to be afraid of. She could go back to sleep and not worry about a thing.

"But what if some spiders do get into my bed while I am sleeping? What if it really happens?"

"Well we will pray and trust that God is going to take care of us. Doesn't God promise that He is always with us and that He cares for us?"


"Then why don't you go to the bathroom and then I will tuck you back in bed." And with that she quickly went off to the bathroom and then grabbed my hand for the customary "tuck-in." So I put her in her bottom bunk while the other children slept, kissed her on the forehead, and as I turned to leave I told her that I would see her in the morning.

Then she said, "Wait! Don't forget to pray!" I was about to leave the room without praying! I had told her that I would pray for her, and even used that truth to reassure her, but yet I forgot to pray. Her confidence to remain in the bed rested upon us asking God for His help, yet here I was about to leave the room without asking Him to help her.

How often is that us? We tell someone, "I will pray for you," but then in the middle of life we get busy and forget. We may even commit to pray for a situation or a family or a ministry or a missionary, and we may even begin with great fervency, but after a time we just forget to pray for certain things.

This fact really hit home with me because our ministry relies upon the prayers of the people of God. We desperately need people to be praying for our family, our ministry, and the peoples of southern Senegal who need the Gospel. Prayer is not a strategy; prayer is the strategy. And the urgency of the Gospel and the unreached peoples of the world plead with us to never forget to pray.

That night I came back over to the bedside of Hosanna, leaned over near to her ear, and I prayed for her. I prayed that God would protect her from things seen and from things unseen. I thanked God for His power, strength, and care for His people. And then I kissed her again and left the room. Then I thanked God for all of the people that pray for us and who never forget.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Not Easy Being Green

"It's not easy being green." Those words were made famous by Kermit the Frog, but that truth is lived out by thousands of Missionary Kids around the world each day. Missionary Kids (or Third Culture Kids) live between two cultures and struggle to fit into each. They are very different than the children and the culture that they live in, but they also find that they have become much different than the children of their "passport" culture. And sometimes it is a bit confusing to figure out what place, if any, is supposed to feel like home and where they are supposed to fit in.

The official flag of the International Society of
Missionary Kids
It is been said that a Third Culture Kid (TCK) becomes much like
a chameleon: they are able to blend into the culture in which they happen to be in at the time, but they never really become a full-fledged part. While their "passport" culture is yellow and their new culture is blue, they become a blend of the two. They end up feeling green. And it's not easy being green.

I was reminded of this last night as I talked with one of our children about the things of life and why our life is not "normal." Being six months into our time in Canada also means that we are only six months away from another major transition to an entirely different culture. And those things remind you that it is not easy being green.

Our children with "TiCK" their stuffed 
chameleon. TiCK has travelled with our
family for over a  year-and-a-half.

Below is a poem written by a Missionary Kid called, "I Am Green." As you read this pray for Ezra, Thea, and Hosanna and the other TCK's that you may know who are serving all over the world. Pray that God would use their less-than-normal lives for His glory. Pray that when they do not feel at home that they would long for a city whose builder and maker is God Himself (Hebrews 11:10). And please pray for their parents that in the midst of their changing lives that they could provide love, stability, comfort, and direction for their children as their family walks together by faith. Because it's not easy being green.

I Am Green

I grew up in Blue Country

My parents grew up in Yellow Country

They tell me I am Yellow

And sometimes we go and visit Yellow Country

When I am in Yellow Country

I go to school with the Yellow kids.

I dress like the Yellow kids

And I talk like the Yellow kids.

but when I am in Blue Country

I go to school with the Blue kids.

I dress like the Blue kids

And I talk like the Blue kids.

Sometimes when I am in Yellow Country

I really miss the Blue ways.

I guess that the things I do and say,

Are really rather Bluish in color

In the same way, when I am in blue Country

There are things I miss about Yellow Country.

And I am sure the things I do and say

Appear rather Yellowish in color.

All this changing around is so confusing

Blue or Yellow? Who am I really?

I wonder if there is a place where I could just be me,

Where the Blue and the Yellow could both run free.

Sometimes when I am flying between the two places

I want to stay up there in the middle of all the races.

If only I could stop some place in between

If only I could just be GREEN!