Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reasons I'm Glad We Took Our Kids to Africa

I will eventually continue journaling our trip to Ethiopia, but today I need this post.

One of my children has had some health symptoms since we returned from Africa (not really during our trip, but once we got back), under normal American standards they could be considered common childhood aliments, but with having recently spent a week in Africa it was all more concerning. Everything took a turn for the worse last night and I found myself in a minor emergency clinic in the wee hours of the morning describing the symptoms and of course having to add the kicker, "and we just got back from a trip to Africa."

Thankfully, it is not malaria or typhoid fever and I think we're on the road to recovery now, but I do need to remind myself of all the reasons I'm still glad we took our two older kids to Africa.

There are many, many reasons and I would absolutely say it was worth it for all of the prices we paid to do it.

I don't have time to list all of the reasons, but, I can say I've seen a big change in my 8 year old's attitude since returning. He's always had a pretty good attitude and it's a quality (even more than immediate obedience) I really work on preserving/protecting/correcting in my kids. But he's an American kid and before our trip I'd seen hints of the attitude issues that plague many Americans (adults included) - entitlement, ungratefulness, selfishness, grumbling.

And now, several times each day we talk about the things we saw in Africa and I can tell his heart really was touched, impacted by meeting so many people who by our standards had nothing, yet they were full of joy and proclaiming their love for Jesus!

Today we walked in the house and he said out of the blue, "I'm glad we have air conditioning!"

And he's always reminding his little brother that he should just be thankful he has food to eat rather than complaining about what kind of food it is!

I wasn't really sure how much my turned-6 years-old-right-after-our-trip daughter internalized, but I've heard some funny conversations recently between she and her little brother (who didn't go with us to Africa) that indicate her perspective has changed, too. Here's a couple of the conversations:

My 4 year old has a standard prayer he says every night at dinner thanking God for our family and asking God to "keep Nana & Papa safe." And one recent night my 6 year old says to my 4 year old: "It seems like all you care about are Nana & Papa and us. What about the Ethiopian people?"

My 4 year old: "I do care about them, I care about everybody we know."

My 6 year old: "Well we don't really know them."

My 4 year old: "Then why do we care about them?"

My 6 year old: "Because they don't have very good food to eat."


Then today, we got home from the meet the teacher day for my two older kids and my 8 year old son raced in to let the puppy out of her crate with the 4 year old on his heels. You can guess who won that race! My 4 year old has a flare for drama when things don't go his way, even the smallest thing, and depending on the day and how much sleep he's had, there is the potential for much LOUD fussing to ensue, as it did today. Somehow in the midst of fussing about not getting to let the dog out he also figured out he had swim lessons later in the afternoon (sometimes he likes them and sometimes not, today was not) and that put him over the top. He began fussing his classic line:

"It's the worstest day ever!"

Thankfully his grammar mistake brings the tiniest smidge of cute to the huge annoyance of the fussing.

But, what was really funny today was right after he lamented, "It's the worstest day ever!" without missing a beat his 6 year old sister corrected him,

"No, you can only say that if you live in Africa."

Now I'm just praying that perspective lasts, for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Wow--what an awesome experience that must have been for your family. Those memories and lessons will have such an impact on their lives!


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