Many of you have already heard that my girls left for Asia on a mission trip with their campus ministry. The girls are very involved with a ministry group on their college campus and are bonded to their group and leaders. They are learning and growing so much, and it has sure been a blessing for me as their mom to witness their growth and excitement.
Last year, when Kylee went on a mission trip to Africa, was my first time having one of my kids travel overseas without me. Kylee was thrilled to go, and she learned so much through her times in Mozambique and South Africa. It was a learning process for me especially after the trauma that the girls and I had gone through losing my husband in August 2011 in a work related accident and losing my only son to a car accident in June 2013. The feelings of loss and the brevity of life were beyond real to me. I have had to work hard to not live in fear and in anxiety of what may happen to the girls, and I have to continue to work on this throughout the ever changing seasons of life. At times, it has been a mental and spiritual struggle. As I have shared previously, I am learning to rebuild my faith and trust in God. I am working to stand on His promises again as I did through previous years. I want to believe that He will take care of us. When Kylee headed to Africa, then I remember as her mom feeling a variety of feelings. I had to work hard to keep my thoughts and emotions in check. It was a wonderful experience for her, and I was absolutely thrilled with all that she had learned and the many ways that she had grown after having the blessing of this mission trip.
Knowing that MiKayla was heading to the same university as her sister, I remember saying to my sister last year during Kylee’s trip that “Next year, I won’t be surprised if they both go.” It was not a surprise to me when they shared with me late this past fall that they both wanted to go together on the Asia trip. I did my best to support them and to provide for the needs that they had. Their ministry group teaches them how to reach out to others and to ask for support for their mission trip. It was a true blessing last year for Kylee with her Africa trip, and this year for both girls for their Asia trip to see the outpouring of love, support, and giving that both of my girls were blessed with. I did not feel too surprised as my husband and I have worked with so many wonderful people through the years, and we have large, giving families. We know many wonderful people that want to give to others who are trying to make a difference in our hurting world. Thank you to each one of you who has given to the girls trips and given them this great blessing of having the opportunity to go on a mission trip such as this.
As the girls prepared for their trip, I was trying to do my best to help them, but I was also working hard to prepare myself for now both of my daughters traveling across the world. I had approximately 3 weeks with them at home before they were to venture out on their mission for a little over a month. I remember having a strong desire to have lots of bonding and wonderful moments before they left. Some days were like that, and some days were not. Of course, I was working full time, and I would have to be mindful of what they were feeling and desiring just as much as what I was. There were times where they wanted to crash and/or zone out. There were times to be spent with their friends. I was thankful for the moments that we had together where we “connected”. My heart was desperately searching for those moments as I prepared myself for their trip.
I noticed in myself the closer we got to their departure, then the more emotional that I became. I knew it was going to be an interesting time for me as June already holds lots of emotions without them being gone for it. The 4th is PK’s birthday, then Father’s Day, then what would have been my anniversary on the 20th, and then the 26th is the day that my precious son was killed. When I am struggling emotionally then I become more sensitive and get my feelings hurt more easily. I was noticing this with myself BIG TIME in the week before the girls left. I was feeling very emotional and kept praying that I would not be so oversensitive, but I could feel that I was right on the brink. Tears would start to flow at all sorts of times, and I was awake a lot in the night when I should have been sleeping. I was praying about both of these areas. I did not want to be overtired and emotional with the girls during the days leading up to their departure, but I sure was. I just wanted it to be wonderful.
One night MiKayla called for a family meeting. It was special for me to see MiKayla being the one to initiate it as through the years, she did not always enjoy them. MiKayla was so young when her daddy died and then her brother died. She was ages 11 and 13. This was so much for a young girl to try to process and to work through. Talking about her feelings was difficult when she was still trying to figure out how she was even feeling. I did my best to try to foster that kind of environment for the girls and I. I truly believed that we all needed it and still do. We need a safe zone where we can be honest about how we are feeling and discuss what is going on with each of us. When MiKayla called that family meeting, then it was truly what my heart needed. It gave me a chance to honestly express how much I was desiring those special moments and connections before they left. Time with my girls is so priceless, and I value it more than words can express. We are all three imperfect people and so time together is not always what we are expecting or hoping for. The girls and I talked through this that night, and it was amazing how much better I did in handling my emotions after we openly discussed them. It was fun for me to watch MiKayla lead this meeting and to express what she thought we each were feeling. It was also a blessing to watch her try to make sure as we wrapped it up that we all felt good about our resolutions and feelings. Wow! What emotional growth my baby girl continues to display. I am amazed at how the girls both continue to grow and heal, and I am so thankful. So, so thankful.
On that Sunday night of their departure, we were to meet the bus at midnight. The girls were excited and were all packed up. They spent a great deal of time with their lists trying to make sure that they had everything that they needed in their big bag for the next month. They also were on and off the scale holding the bag several times trying to make sure that they were within the weight limit. It was a happy time as they prepared to go. Kylee and I had a fun time talking for a lot of the drive. Kylee had been driving us quite a bit as she remembered how much she missed driving for that month that she was gone last year. When we arrived at the stop then we spent over an hour walking through the groups and visiting and waiting in the lines. There were a variety of teams there that were preparing to leave for different locations in Africa and Asia. There was a place to check in and a different place to weigh those bags again. I laughed so hard when the girls seemed so relieved that their bags met the weight criteria. I guess they were still nervous even though they had weighed them multiple times.
It was getting close to 1 am when Kylee asked me if I was ready to go. I knew that it was time being I was going to be driving back home which takes about 2 ½ hours through the middle of the night. As we all three hugged and held each other, tears were pouring down my face. I remember praying to God and pleading for Him to take good care of my girls. I think I even threw in some friendly reminders of how I am trying to rebuild my faith and trust and need them to be taken good care of. As I drove away from the girls and began my drive home then the tears continued to flow. I felt a sense of peace that I knew must be heaven sent. I was wide awake even though it was 1-3:30 in the morning. I am thankful to report that even though it was emotional that my heart was filled with much more peace and gratitude for the opportunity then anxiety. I do believe I have maintained that pretty well (NOT PERFECTLY) for these first two weeks that they have been gone. Thank You God.
“God meets daily needs daily. Not weekly or annually. He will give you what you need when it is needed.” Max Lucado
I had learned more of what to expect from last year’s trip. There would be no phones. They were not allowed to have them as the leadership had decided that phones take their focus off of their work and ministry mindset. Instead, the leaders bring their phones, and then we have video calls on facebook messenger when they are able to. The girls left May 27th, and I received one on June 4th which is the day that their brother should have been turning 24, and then I received one the morning of June 10th. There is also a private facebook page where the leaders post pictures and updates. It has been fun to see the girls’ smiling faces and to hear of all that they are doing so far. They are both having a wonderful time. They are meeting lots of people. They spent time working in an orphanage and told me about it on our first call. They could not believe how much the babies wanted to be held and how hard it was to put them down. They were so hungry for love. It was the same with the little children there. Experiences like this are so good for all of us to see and hear the hurts of those in need. May we all continue to learn to live in such a way that we are focused on being a blessing to those who come into our lives.
They will spend the last two weeks working in a refuge camp. The refugees that they will be working with have fled their native country, and they are Muslims and Hindus that are trying to flee the killings, violence, and ethnic cleansing. I am thankful for each experience the girls have had and for all that are to come. I am thankful that they have these opportunities to go and to learn about the needs and hurts in different parts of our world. I am thankful that they do their best to try to give of themselves and to be a blessing. I am thankful for strength from God to be able to support my two girls in these missions. I am thankful for the hearts of these two wonderful young women who want to live in faith and to share their faith. I am thankful for my two daughters who want to reach out to others. I am thankful that in the midst of it all that He continues to build my faith and trust in Him and to remind me that I am not alone, that He is with me, and that He has not forgotten me. I am thankful for the peace that passes understanding. There are many blessings.
“Not reaching back for what was lost in my yesterdays. And not reaching for what I hope will be my tomorrow. But living fully with what is right in front of me. And truly seeing the gift of this moment.” Lysa TerKeurst
“God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live… loved.” Lysa TerKeurst
I hope and pray that each of you are living fully with what is right in front of you and that you are truly seeing the gift of this moment. Even if you are hurting and in so much pain, I hold this hope for you in my heart. I also hope and pray that you are living as what you are…. LOVED.