Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sixteenth summer

As I've mentioned many times on this blog, we've always tried to parent "backwards" - envisioning the kind of young men and women we want our kids to be, and working toward that.

Suddenly, we look up, and our oldest practically ARE young men and women. Allie-15 has only three summers before she goes to college. How on earth did THAT happen?? =)

Even though living in Small Town has given her a little bit wider view of life outside the homogenously-American-middle-class-ness of Big Suburb, before she leaves home, we want her to have some experiences that will kick her in the rear open her eyes to the Real World. Something far from our sanitized world of conveniences that we consider "needs."

With that in mind, last night we went to a very exciting meeting. It was an information meeting about a mission trip - to AFRICA!

I can't tell you how excited we are to see HER get excited about taking two weeks of her sixteenth summer to work with a mission organization that shares Christ's love with South Africa's AIDS orphans. The team is being led by dear family friends of ours (my friend Staci will be Allie's surrogate mother for the trip), and they will work in a safe area. She'll get to work in vegetable gardens, build houses, visit the dying, and play with children whose lives - without people who want to be Jesus' hands and feet - would be hopeless.

We have a lot to do in the next few months - fund raising, more orientation meetings, lots of SHOTS, and - mostly - prayer. I know God has good things in store - not just for the African children - but also for my wildly imaginative, strong-willed, fun-loving Allie.

I'd love to hear your experiences! Did you (or your kids) go on a life-changing trip as a teen or young adult? What would you tell Allie?


Rachel said...

Allie! As one who's been on both sides of the 'fence' I will tell you this. You will never be the same. Go with an open mind, open eyes, and an open heart to what God wants to show you. If I had it to do over again I would tell myself that. I hope you have an awesome summer. Africa will change your life. I'd give anything to go again. Tell your mom to send us a support letter for you. We'd love to be a part of sending you.

The Boojes said...

I went to Liberia, West Africa with Teen Missions the summer I was 14. It definitely changed my life and opened my eyes to the world (and gave me an "international travel bug" that had me hopping oceans for many years after!). I agree with the previous commenter. I'd also say, be careful who/how many you commit to keep in contact with. It's much better to undercommit and "oversurprise" than the opposite. And prayer works even better than email! =)

Anne said...

My husband I went to Namibia which is North of South Africa. It was amazing! We went into the schools to teach abstinence. It will be a life changing trip for her and she will come back with so many memories. We plan on going back with our girls when they get older.

Kris said...

You know my heart is on the mission field and I think this is wonderful. When my younger sister was 15 I took her on a trip to Honduras to "open her eyes" and that is when I caught the mission bug. Last year my brother just got back from a mission trip from Brazil with his 16-year old daughter. Is this with Hands at Work organization?

Michelle said...

I would tell her that she's going to be hot, sweaty, dirty, tired and perhaps a bit frightened by her surroundings. That will last right up to the first time a precious little one throws their arms around your neck and holds on for dear life. Right up to the moment a precious child of God with very little in the way of material things smiles, praises God for your visit and offers you what she has. In a blink of the eye, the tiredness melts, the heat ceases to matter and you fall in love. I would tell her that she will never, ever, ever, ever be the same. I would tell her that she makes God smile. I would tell her Go!

All of which is very difficult to say at the moment since I am putting mine on a plane Monday for a whole year. Gulp.

Becca~CapturingSimpleJoys said...

I went on a mission trip to Mexico when I was 16 and loved it. Made me more thankful for what I had.

My Mom still goes on mission trips and a couple of years ago went to Africa and LOVED every minute of it. Everywhere she went the children wanted her to take their picture and then show it to them. For some it was the first picture of themselves they'd ever seen.

Sarah said...

I am excited to hear how the trip goes! I started traveling internationally in college and didn't stop until I got married and became a mother... my last trip was three years ago. I was 19 the first time I went overseas, and it was still difficult for my parents. I admire your courage. I want my kids to travel and see the world... in particular, I long for them to develop a heart for those living in poverty (Proverbs 31:8-9). I already wonder how we'll do it/when it will be appropriate for them to see these things in person. I want to learn from your example! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

My encouragement to Allie would be to prepare as much as possible emotionally. My encouragement to you would be to have her start asking the hard questions now - in a safe place, at home with her parents. Why does God allow some people to be born in wealth and some to be born in poverty? Why was I born in America, not South Africa? Why does God allow innocent children to contract AIDS? I've watched many teenagers (and adults!) go overseas and come back devastated by these questions. Warn her that there are no easy answers... and sometimes no answers that we'll find this side of heaven. Encourage her to really search and be grounded in who God is and His intentions toward His children before she faces the stark reality of life in an impoverished and AIDS stricken area.

Again, you are both so courageous and I am excited to hear how this trip goes! (for her AND for mom at home :))

Destiny said...

This is only my second time to leave a comment...but I'm a long time reader.
I was so excited after reading this post!! I was 16 the first time I went on a missions trip to Uganda-East Africa. It was the first of many trips to Uganda...and only 4 years after my first trip my husband and I moved there (yes I got married young). We have been living there ever since (My husband is a pastor and we planted a church in a town called Fort Portal, 4 yrs ago-along with the church we do a lot of children's outreach/children's ministry). A trip like that will change your life, and might even be in preperation for what the Lord will later call you to. Allie-It is hard to see the poverty- your heart will break for them. But remember you can give them something that poverty & sickness can't take from them- JESUS and the hope of heaven! Have a great time- get ready to break forth from your comfort zone and be used by the Lord in a mighty way. Read and memorize Proverbs 3:5&6.
If you want to see and read about what we're doing, here is our web site:

Home Sown Gardens LLC said...

I have an idea for you to fund raise for this trip! Set up a link to a PayPal account and all your blog readers can donate. I'd be first in line. Even $1 or 2 from a number of readers would help, right? I'm sure there are legalities surrounding this, but I would bet a quick call to an accountant would answer those questions.
Best wishes on the journey; before, during, and after!