It’s hard to put into words just how different things were for us last weekend as compared with this weekend. Just one more thing I love about life on the mission field. So much variety. This morning was Sam’s first “friend” birthday party. Dave and I confessed to each other after the party that we were so happy at how well it went, and we were both a little nervous before hand. Stressed was the word he used. Because it was the first party of this kind that we’ve hosted, I think we both just really wanted it to go well. And it did.
It got me thinking about the life of an mk- missionary kid. Each invited guest fit this category. Children who are here, in Niger, because their parents are missionaries. These kids are so special and so unique. I’ll give you a few examples.
As we colored at the start of the party Trey says, “Hey this is Fire Man Sam! (coloring sheet). I know Fire Man Sam. He’s from PBS.” All true information, but this is a kid that lives in Niger. I’m pretty sure they don’t have satilite TV at his house that will deliver PBS. And if they do, I’m interested. So, I ask him if they watch Fire Man Sam online at his house (everything is available on u-tube if you’re willing to wait long enough for the download, but you might wait a very long time). “No,” Trey replies, “We only watch that in America.”
A little while later the power went out. This is very normal this time of year where we live, and the party just continued on as normal. I was preparing to serve hot dogs to the kids and as the kids saw me going to the fridge, they began to speak up in alarm. “You’re not supposed to open the fridge when the power’s out!!” They all told me with a great deal of sincerity. They all agreed with each other. “If you do that, everything could spoil!” Something a missionary mom in Niger would say to her children all the time. Just another part of life as a missionary kid.
Something else unique about this party, our friend Marcus, who is Sam’s friend from school, came with his own translator. Marcus, and his family, are here from a norther European country and although his big sisters go to the English speaking missionary school and have learned English, Marcus is in pre-school at the French school and only understands French and his native tongue. So his sister, Ida, who I know from teaching music, was happy to come along and translate for her brother.
Half way through the party,the fire engine pulls up in front of the house. All the kids in the neighborhood come out to see. The kids at the party are all wearing red fire man hats. The others are standing back at a distance. In situations like this, I always wonder how it makes the mks feel. To be the one everyone else is watching. To live in a cultural bubble where a fire man party is not that out of the norm in a place where most local kids don’t really understand what a fire man is.
The good news is that these kids have each other. I am so glad. It’s such a comfort and a pleasure to live in a community of people who understand what it’s like. A community where people support one another whole heartedly. This is what made today a great day.