Monday, March 21, 2016

The End of an Era

From the beginning of our marriage Tom and I agreed on one thing wholeheartedly. No matter what we did in life to serve God (for that was another definite for us) we would include our kids. We wanted them to not feel sidelined by our life's calling, but an important part of it.

When we returned from our mission to Mexico--where we'd spent our newlywed years--with a newborn and twin toddlers, we didn't have many options, but we tried to use our time wisely, even if it was simply sharing the message of Jesus with people we met along the way.

As more children came along, homeschooling got busier, and Tom's responsibilities grew in his work, we kept our eyes on the prize. Tom worked as a chaplain for the Seafarers Center on his one day off each week. I scoured the newspaper for volunteer opportunities and took the kids with me to deliver Meals on Wheels or pass out Christmas cards to nursing home residents. 

From the very beginning we formed a tiny singing troupe and added kids along the way. 

Singing and dancing on the beach of Corpus Christi

"I'd like to be a Christmas tree!"

Child five added for another Christmas season

Even those that couldn't perform could still hug

Jasmine was a natural

Timothy was a champion at tenderly praying with everyone he met

Our kids have had amazing experiences along the way because of our having taken them along for the ride.

Food distribution at a Navajo reservation
Encouraging first responders after 9-11
Exploring Botswana
Meeting traditional rulers and Chiefs

When we got the call to Africa we made sure that any projects we took on would be able to include our kids. At the beginning it was working with a community school which was a great fit. When our work changed a few years later and became mostly adult education (Bible, health, leadership, etc.), we took our kids to volunteer at an orphanage so they would have their own work to do. This led to us discovering the great need for homes for babies and toddlers who've lost their mothers, and eventually to starting our own orphanage.

Our kids worked side by side with us from the beginning. Caring for sick babies, playing with the toddlers, teaching the preschoolers, offering cuddles and love, and just being all around amazing helps to us.

Jessica with Henry (2007)

Troy and Jennifer (2008)

Jennifer (2008)

Jasmine (2008)

T.J with Peter (2009)

Timothy and Johnny (2009)

One by one our kids grew up (as they tend to do) and headed off to college. Six became four became three became two became ONE. And now Troy, our youngest, our baby, our last is leaving home and moving back to the States to pursue God's plan for him. 

Troy has been a great big brother to all the kids

People often ask us if our kids will come back and join us in Zambia again. And the answer is YES--if God asks them to. At the moment they are fulfilling His plan for them, and continuing to serve God and others where they are right now.

We miss them terribly, but are so happy to have had many many years of family service together.

And now we are embarking on life as empty nesters.......


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