Thursday, June 14, 2007

Acts 1:8

This summer, Michael will be spending four weeks in Honduras; Amy will be spending the same weeks in Belize. I will not be with them. This is all my Mother’s fault.

It’s Mom’s fault because she’s the one who let me go on my first mission trip. I was 16. It was sponsored by Teen Missions International (www.teenmissions.org ), an organization started in 1970. We went to Portugal where my team and I built a dormitory for a church camp. After our work project we boarded a tour bus and drove from Sintra to Russia, where we smuggled in Bibles. We put the tiny books in our dirty socks, hoping the KGB wouldn’t want to look in our laundry bags. We were right, and we were able to take the Bible into the country and deliver them to the house churches we were scheduled to meet.

Of course, at 16 I thought that was the height of cool. I was a new Christian and giving up my summer to serve the Lord was the most exciting thing I could imagine. And to get to be a Bible smuggler?! It just didn’t get any better than that for me.

But now that I’m a parent, all I can think is, “What the heck were my parents thinking?!” I didn’t even mention this was in the summer of 1986, only a few months after the accident in Chernobyl!

Thankfully, all went well the summer of ’86, and I fell in love with mission work. The next summer I went to Kenya, again with Teen Missions, and during college I spent time in Bolivia, Belize, the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Those trips changed who I am at a fundamental level and caused me to embrace the Christian faith as my faith, not just the faith of my parents.

It was one thing for me to go; it’s entirely different to let my kids go! And quite honestly, I cannot believe I am letting my babies spend their summer with Teen Missions. I was 16; Michael’s only 13 and Amy, a mere 10.

This was completely their idea; Sean and I were not excited at the prospect of them being gone nearly the whole summer. Michael went with TMI three years ago and we missed him something awful. We’d told them, “No.”

But they each made a pro/con list and Amy produced an elaborate PowerPoint presentation on why she should go, so we actually had to consider their request.

Instead of just giving an answer we actually began to pray and ask the Lord to let us know what He wanted them to do.

This is where my Mom gets to share the blame. My friend Jill and I talked on the phone the day after Amy’s PowerPoint presentation and I was lamenting the fact that she wanted to go. Jill stopped me and said, “Are you kidding me? Your kid wants to go on a mission trip; why aren’t you thrilled?”

I was surprised at her response. I was looking for a bit more compassion and she just hit me between the eyes with the truth.

Long story short (sort-of): over the next several weeks many people talked with us about missions. Some knew the kids were thinking about going, others didn’t. But too many things happened to support their desire to go that we couldn’t deny the Lord was telling us it was a good idea.

That was in February. June was a long time off. But now it’s June, and in two weeks I’ll leave my babies in the steamy jungle of Florida where they’ll live in tents and sweat and work hard and get eaten by mosquitoes as they serve the Lord and have the absolute times of their lives.

I’d go again in a heartbeat.

As you think about them, please pray their hearts will be receptive to the Lord’s teaching, safety in their travels and for us not to miss them too much.

Thanks.