I love to get advice and counsel from others that have gone before me and have been in the shoes (or flip flops!) that I'm getting ready to wear. We have a wealth of information at our fingertips through Godly people God puts in our path. I've recently just met one of these people, and I'm so thankful! Sherry Howell is a dear lady that has joined our church while we were in Canada. Mom filled me in once we returned on new members (There are always so many new faces!) She told me about The Howell family and that they are very sweet people. Mrs. Sherry is someone my Mom said she would love to get to know better. When I met her, she smiled so sweetly and was so friendly. Through facebook, we've been able to chat and get to know one another better. I was so excited to find out she is a MK! (missionary kid) She was able to grow up part of her childhood in Japan. I asked her for some advice from an MK's perspective. When she sent me a message back, I was amazed at the wealth of information I received! What a blessing. I read her message to Patrick, Josh, Elisabeth, and Brenna. It was a good time of discussion, preparation, and a good reality check, too. I asked Mrs. Sherry if I could repost her counsel, and she sweetly said yes. I know it will be a blessing for you, too, since some of my readers are missionaries, just like me! So, here is an excerpt, from Mrs. Sherry Howell:
My biggest advise to you (off the top of my head and from my own personal experience),...is to be aware that the older children may have more of a struggle than the younger...just by the nature of the situation....more responsibility falls on them throughout the initial year's worth of entry and transition, and then becomes the norm. They tend to fall between the cracks as you all strive to keep your heads above water adjusting and getting settled...learning language. You will need to rely on their help, of course, and I know they'll be more than wiling,...but it can get tricky. If they're like me...and maybe they won't be...I tended to take that burden on very seriously and internalized...never expressing my own concerns or hurts or longings...grief over missing my friends and lack of friends over there, in fear of putting extra strain on my parents. In the end, I felt like I was required to be an adult too early and the first chance i got to have American friends,...I acted out and rebelled....feeling like I deserved a chance to have FUN for a change...be a kid. My parents felt like was doing fine....I never complained...never said anything. But, I needed them to reach out to me and understand that there was no way I could not have concerns and hurts...even though I was not showing signs of it. I needed them to know that and just comfort me and encourage me. So,...watch for that and lend some extra loving sensitivity to the child that perhaps....seems to be faring the best. Just tap in,...just in case there's a need. I'm sure you will. Today,....we know so much more about that kind of stuff. Fact is,...with full plates,...even under the best of circumstances, life gets really hectic and bottom line...ya just gotta do the best ya can and pray the Lord will pick up the slack and HE will. He will bless your willingness to serve Him. And we will keep those prayers going up in your behalf! Give yourselves time and don't set deadlines....like we must be fluent in the language by a certain time or we're failures. God us going to use you regardless, mark my words!!! Enjoy this wonderful opportunity and know that even if your children have times of struggle,...in the end...they will cherish this extraordinary experience. Trust in that. It will get you through the hurdles. Take time to smell the roses. Learn how to say no in a tender, but sometimes necessary way. Find the humor in your "bound to have them" embarrassing and frustrating moments...and share them with US! Your fans and supporters! ; ) Reach out to us when ya need some extra luvin or prayer. Let us know your needs.
Thank you, Mrs. Sherry, you've been such a blessing to me! I love how the Lord is preparing us for the field. We'll be there soon!