I’M BACK! Finally! Thanks be to God! I’m back and so is my family and I am excited to be home! In case you didn’t realize it, I’ve been away for the past two weeks. Our entire family – Marianne, Michael, Lizzie and myself – went on a mission trip to Kenya, serving alongside one of my spiritual fathers and mentors, His Grace Bishop Paul. We spent two weeks serving with the Coptic Mission in Kenya in the capital city of Nairobi and a rural town called Maseno.
And in case you’re wondering how it went...BEST TWO WEEKS FOR OUR FAMILY EVER!
Why? There were so many great things about this trip but for today, I’ll just focus on what it meant for us as a family – especially for the kids (age 8 and 10).
1) THEY GAINED PERSPECTIVE
I always say that one of the best decisions I ever made was when I went to Africa and served with the mission for five weeks back in 1998. I had just graduated from college and was about to start working as an IT consultant. But God arranged it that before I started making money, I got to see things in Africa that would forever affect the way I look at money and material things. I like to say that that trip gave me perspective.
Well, my kids gained that same perspective during this trip – but at a much younger age. They got to see a side of this world that many may never see.
They saw that there’s more to life than what they’ve seen...that you can survive and be completely happy even if you don’t have your own cell phone. They saw that there’s another kind of life outside of the one they know – a life where you aren’t worried about video games and iPads, but instead about clean water and having a roof over your head.
They gained perspective.
2) WE GOT "QUALITY TIME" AS A FAMILY
If you ask me, the best quality time isn’t watching movies together or going to an amusement park or playing mini golf all summer; it’s serving God together, as a family.
The kids weren’t just along for the ride; they didn’t just watch Marianne and I serve. They got into the action as well.
They taught Bible lessons to the kids in village. They came with me when we went to the local prison to baptize inmates – many of whom were on death row awaiting execution. They walked the same dirt roads as the adult missionaries as we went door to door carrying the good news of the gospel from house to house.
They did everything we did and we did it all together. And that is a dream come true for any mother or father out there.
They got real quality time with their parents.
3) THEY GAINED TOUGHNESS
Here is where I give my kids a ton of credit. I won’t go into too much detail on this but I’ll just say that the trip wasn’t always easy. Hot and dusty streets. Long van rides. Lengthy stretches with no food or snacks. Let’s just say that it isn’t how most kids their age spend summer vacations.
But I was so proud of my kids that they never complained once. NOT ONCE! There were times when even I was ready to complain; but they never did. They knew they were coming on a mission trip and they were ready to face the challenges. If that meant being a little uncomfortable or being hungry or being thirsty, they were up for the challenge. And I was sooooooooooooo proud of them for that!
They gained some much needed toughness from this trip.
So that’s how we spent our summer. Sounds crazy I know, but trust me, it was one of the best things we’ve ever done as a family and I wanted to share my experience with you to maybe inspire you to do something outside the ordinary with your kids too. Trust me, it’s worth it.
You’ll never realize what your kids (or you) can handle until you stretch them out of their comfort zone a bit.