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Here are some photos from Caitlin's first birthday party. We got a princess cake from a local Dairy Queen, and with some help from big brother and Daddy, blew out the candle. Afterwards, we opened a box of gifts from Grandpa.
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Joshua has lived in Thailand since he was 6 months old and we've tried to get him to speak Thai but so far, he has not caught on. At 4 years old, he talks a mile per minute in English but only a couple phrases in Thai. As we are planning to be in Thailand long term, this will probably correct itself later on, but for now, he had a hard time with Thai people speak to him. Often, there are three stages that Joshua goes through:
1) Listen to the Thai person talking to him
Sometimes there are situations where a man feels called to the mission field, but his wife doesn't, but they go anyhow because the wife wants to be submissive to her husband. While this is admirable, it is unwise. Moving overseas is a huge commitment, and a huge lifestyle change for the whole family. It is totally unlike staying in your home country where family life might look similar regardless of whether the husband is a pastor or businessman or plumber. It is unwise for a couple to go to the mission field thinking that only the husband is the missionary. Both husband and wife must think of themselves as missionaries, and be committed to the calling that God has placed on their lives together. In cases where the wife merely follows on the husband’s coat tails, these couples don't last long on the mission field. The wife often ends up resentful of having to do something she really didn't want to do to begin with. Unless you are convinced that God has called you to the mission field, the stress from living in another language and culture (FAR from family back home) is too much to endure. Men, if you want to be a missionary, make sure you take the necessary time, together with your wife, to pray and talk about it and discern together if God is calling you as a family to go. And if your wife is not on board 100%, don’t go.
Perhaps we should have seen it coming. For the first six weeks of our home assignment in the U.S., we had been attending worship at one of our supporting churches, and our four year old son Joshua had been participating in the preschoolers Sunday school class. But this particular week, I was preaching at another church. As we pulled into the parking lot, we explained to him that Daddy was preaching at THIS church today so we are not going to the other church.And that’s when he flipped out. Still strapped into his car booster seat, Joshua arched his back and screamed, “But I want to go to MY Sunday school!”
I knew my eyes were deceiving me but I wanted the deception to be true. I was standing before my father as he lay on a small raised platform, legs covered in a blanket. His chest was moving up and down, almost imperceptibly, as one breathes quietly when asleep. But there was no breathing. No motion. It was all in my mind. This was not the stillness of sleep, but of deathA week earlier I had learned that he was in the hospital. A few days after that I learned that this may be sickness unto death. And after hurrying to pack up our family, arrange our affairs, and get plane tickets, here I was with my father.
In less than two months now, my wife Sun is due to have our second child. One of our supporting churches recently told us that they wanted to have a baby shower for her in absentia. We thought that it would be good to send something along to be read at the baby shower since she would not be able to be there. As Sun and I got talking, we came up with the following list of challenges and blessings of being a young mom on the mission field. Every woman, and every family, is different and various parts of the world are very different as well, but here are some thoughts on Sun’s experience here in Thailand.
On of the most difficult aspects of being on the mission field is that we are half a world away (literally) from family. If you fly from Thailand to New Hampshire, USA you can't get any further apart without starting to go back around the globe again.When our family made the choice to go half way across the world to make known the truth and grace of Christ, we knew that separation from family was one of the costs. It is a cost we are willing to live with because the proclamation of Christ to those who do not know him is extremely important. We want other families in spiritually dark parts of the world to have the same hope and comfort of Christ that we do. However, despite the importance of the task and our commitment to it, it doesn't make the distance and separation any easier. We praise God for technologies like Skype and blogs that make staying in touch somewhat easier but it is never the same as being there.It has been particularly difficult for my Mom to be separated from her only grandchild, Joshua, whom she knows almost exclusively through the pictures that we post on the Joshua blog and the stories that we tell her in phone calls and emails. When she was rediagnosed with cancer a few months ago, she really wanted us to come home. We weren't due for home assignment until the end of 2010 but as it became obvious that Mom's condition was much more tenuous than