I stepped into my 20 year old daughter's bedroom and it was a huge mess! But there was a reason, a good one. Julia is in the middle of packing for her fourth missionary trip to southern Bolivia. She leaves Saturday. Not only that, but her friend Sarah, who is also going to Entre Rios, has been staying with us for several days, so they are packing together. I sat down amidst the piles and breathed deeply, a few tears trickling. For they are strong and bold, and I am one happy mommy.
Among the clothes and toiletries in the packing pile are gifts: Twisty balloons, crayons, coloring books, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and Spanish picture books for the children. Spanish theology books for the village pastors. (The books are all from Brightlight, our favorite used bookstore. My joy was to help pick them out earlier this week.) Two jars of peanut butter (one creamy, one crunchy) for Angela, the only other American at the mission. A box of books for Barbie (an American Mennonite home school mom in Entre Rios) which was sent here by her parents in North Carolina to avoid the exhorbitant postage rates into Bolivia. Several small photo albums filled with pictures Julia took the last time she was there, to bless the dear families she loves.
And oh, how she loves them, and more importantly, oh how much she loves the LORD. That's what makes me cry. She loves enough to venture so far away, taking countless travel risks I don't know if I could take. She loves enough to do without the comforts of home -- like clean water or a real bed. She loves enough to work hard on a construction project, to sweat and maybe even bleed. She loves enough to learn the language and attempt to translate for her American friends. With this kind of love, my daughter is strong and bold in the Lord, and so is her friend, who is new to this missionary stuff, new to South America. I am so pleased for both of them!
Her 16 year old sister Joanna, too, is preparing for ministry the great beyond. She leaves for a nearly two week trip to the Dominican Republic on July 23, the day after Julia arrives home. I can't wait to see how she will grow from this extreme cross-cultural experience, this grand adventure.
And then I think of my little Melody, on the eve of her fourth birthday next month. She cried hysterically for the first three and three quarters days of her swim lessons at the Cady Way YMCA. "Mommy! MOMMY! Stay with me! I don't like the water!" Not content that I was only a few feet away. Not even remembering how much she loves to jump in with me when it's not lesson time. And yet we persevered. This morning, rain drenched her lesson time and she shivered in her towel on the edge of the pool. Three times she screamed and balked and would not "kick-kick-kick" her chubby legs for Miss Kendall. The fourth, miraculously, she smiled angelicly and kicked, even said "Thank you!" to teacher. For extra good (and brave) measure, she put her face in the water and blew bubbles. She is not yet strong and bold, but she is edging along the way, a splash at a time. And I am glad. (No, the picture is not from the pool, but from Lake Lily, where she made an accidental splash by falling in last month... I did my best to calmly treat it as an "oops" instead of as an emergency, because I don't want to encourage fear.)
You can read Julia's blog from her three month trip earlier this year at http://www.juliaknowles.blogspot.com/. My favorite post is Las Abras: Love because a little lame old man named Santiego lives what love really is. You may also like to see my blog posts "To Bolivia with Love" (a poem and more) and A Ship in Harbour is Safe..
My oldest daughter Mary Tindall is spreading her wings in other ways. Yes, she's been to Bolivia too, but now she's a wife and a journalist. Her latest freelance project: a movie story for Christianity Today. Check it out here: From Fireproof to Florida. You go, girl!