Parenting a missionary kid can be tricky. Honestly, it has been one of the most challenging parts of our ministry and life in Niger. Not because our kids are so challenging. On the contrary, they are incredible! All three of them are extremely intelligent, resilient, thoughtful, and courageous. Spending most of their adolescence in one of the world’s most undeveloped countries has shaped the way they think about everything! They are mature in ways that amaze us because they have had to adapt to an unusual lifestyle.
As parents of these outstanding young people, we’ve sometimes anguished over their “losses” and often struggled to trust God with the ways He was shaping them through our unique circumstances. It hasn’t been easy for them and we know it. And even though caring people often tell them that they are “so blessed” to have their experiences, it still doesn’t take away the pain and awkwardness of their real life.
Recently, our daughter Ruth was asked to write a poem for one of her classes. When she read it to us, I was simultaneously heartbroken and bursting with pride over her! I want to share it here, because I know that those of you who read this blog have been on this journey with us and you know our joy and sorrow as we’ve served in Niger. While Andy and I can celebrate all that God is doing here, we want to give voice to the reality for our kids. I think you’ll agree that it’s an honor to get to peek into Ruth’s heart as she opens it for us in this poem. She puts into words the joy and sorrow of her own journey.
A Warning in Hindsight
By Ruth Gray, written on February 23, 2023
“Come” they said
You didn’t know it at the time
But when your parents took you to this country
They were asking so much more of you
Than you would ever know.
Now you wish you could go back
And have a warning:
Here the sand will dye your feet the color of apricots
Here plastic bags fly through the air like songbirds
Here muddy waters will swallow your home
Here you will wake to the sounds of gunshots and think
Fireworks will never sound the same
Here your dreams will be extinguished time and again
Here careless teachers will only teach you what it is to feel
Come to this place where you will find yourself
Find community and friendship
Here you will hurt so much that the only logical response to
leaving is grief
Where scars will be etched into your soul so deeply that saying
Will be more painful than everything else combined
Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t know
Because if you’d refused and didn’t come
Who would you be now?