We have always been intentional about our own lives and our children’s upbringing. We have listened eagerly to people talk about how great it would be to give their kids the education of living in another culture, but no-one seems to actually carry through the dream (unless they are *missionaries*). We agree that the experience of living somewhere different, of living a life other than middle class white kiwi suburbia is a great idea – so we are just going to do it!
Although Rob’s work is full of good things, noble causes and needy people (not to mention a pay packet each week), there exists a boundary that cannot be crossed by the children – their world and their daddy’s worlds are separate. However, there are worlds in which we can live together for now and even though it is not easy for Rob to take a break from his current work-world right now, there is nothing stopping him from returning to it later. So for the moment, we can choose a different path, one that enables Dadda to be more involved in the lives of his family. His work will wait, but his kids will grow up.
We’re in a unique position to be *able* to do it – we are mentally ready, we are philosophically and methodologically ready with regards to the children’s education, we are willing, we have the desire, we have life experience that will enable us to cope (experience living abroad, truckloads of qualifications, teaching experience overseas and at home, in private language schools, primary school, tertiary institute and tutoring individuals, and we’re used to our kids). While we have not been able to embrace the concept of spending ourselves to become financially rich, we have managed to save enough to give this a shot.
In many ways “the trip” will not be too different to our living here. We will just be our family doing what our family does! Only we’ll be in different locations. Instead of inspiring our children through books about Hudson Taylor, they’ll walk along the Great Wall themselves. Instead of a summer camping holiday, they’ll spend winter in a Mongolian ger. The hope we have held on to for many of our book companions will be replaced by Wild Hope in Tanzania, wild hope for real people (oops, not this time it won’t, not under the revised plan). Instead of not buying toys here, we’ll not buy souvenirs there. Instead of reading about Tom Sawyer’s adventures or Huck Finn’s, we’ll be making our own! Having watched Patricia St John show us mercy to orphans in Morocco in “Star of Light”, we’re hoping to have the opportunity to serve at an orphanage in Romania. We will go and “be us”. We don’t presume to change the world, but we do hope to make a little bit of difference to people we meet along the way.
We embrace learning and learning takes many forms
* We love history. We can’t wait to walk on old cobbled streets, climb turrets of castles and sing a hymn at the graves of our favourite hymn-writers.
* We love language. It’s exciting to engage, to communicate, to cross barriers, to understand.
* We love creation. Bush walks, beach frolics, sunsets….collecting bird’s nests, shells, rocks….discovering gheckos, spider webs, mushrooms.
* We love art.
* We love metaphors (or “word pictures” as the children call them). We can live out the object lesson of aliens and pilgrims and ambassadors!
* Mark Twain’s words ring true for us: “There comes a time in every rightly-constructed boy’s life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”
We want to bring to our kids’ attention the needs of the world. Of course we don’t need to look past our own street to find people we can serve, and our children do engage with us in meeting the needs we come across. But there is also a bigger picture. And while you can see some of that bigger picture on a television screen, there is something about smelling the smells, seeing the sights, hearing the noises and actually interacting with real people that we hope will plant seeds in our children’s lives that grow with them and help lead them to a life-purpose outside of themselves.
Instilling gratitude in our children is one of the jobs we have so far been quite successful at! I can’t remember the last outing we went on that didn’t end with everyone spontaneously calling out “Thanks for taking us to xyz Dadda”. When we write them little notes, we always get thankful replies. When gifts are given, the older kids hardly ever need reminding to make a thank you card. All the same, we think they could benefit from understanding a little more fully exactly how *rich* they are. In New Zealand access to running water, education and medical care are taken for granted. If you don’t have a roof over your head and food in your tummy the state gives it to you. Contrast that with our own experience – the very first apartment Rob and I lived in (in Poland) had no handbasin, no bed (we slept on strawfilled mattresses on the floor which we stacked on top of each other during the day to make a “couch”), no phone, no tv, no computer, no car in the garage we didn’t have….then in our second flat we had to walk up the road to a public well for our drinking water. Our worldly possessions fit into one backpack each.
Although we talk about the conditions most people live in today, our children do not understand. They do not understand *hunger* or *orphan* or *naked* or *homeless* or *war*. We cannot tell our children what to do with their lives, but we can choose what we show them and pray that they will be even more grateful for the blessings they have and be moved to share with others, to live their lives for others.
There is great freedom in only having one backpack’s worth of gear to look after.
We were born with travelling adventure in our blood. This is something, which is hard to articulate – it’s just there. It’s something that happens to us. Perhaps it’s even who we are. It’s not entirely rational or logical or explainable. It just is.
I have a hidden romantic layer that forgets children get tired, packs get heavy and money runs out, and just see the close family ties, the shared experiences and the slower life. My romanticism agrees with Helen Keller who said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”
We are also hoping to revive friendships with people around the world made in our newly-wed days.
“Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don’t. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.”
~ Philip Adams