June 30, 2008

Kindergarten Prophecies (by Christie's Mom)

Ok, the rest of the family has written for this mission blog and someone suggested it would be nice to hear from a mother-of-the missionary’s perspective. After all, those are my grandchildren they are taking away to South America. (No, dear, it’s not a theme park, it’s a real foreign country.)

Someone who had just met my daughter asked me if I raised her to be the special, Holy-Spirit filled person they found her to be. That question got me thinking. Anyone who knows Christie will readily admit that she is not your average Joe (or should I say Josephine?) That question caused me to look back and connect a few dots. I was almost 19 years old when Christie was born and though I was too young to know much, I knew I needed help. I admitted to God that I did not know how to be a good parent and asked Him to help me. When she was three, a salesman for Parent’s magazine stopped by and convinced me that I could not raise a child properly without advice from her magazine’s columnists. Then she spouted off some quote from Dr. Spock, her favorite expert. Alas, I could not afford a subscription and felt hopeless for my child’s future after the lady left. I asked God how I could do a good job without those helpful books. The answer came clearly--use the Holy Book that generations before you have used. And now in hindsight, as part of the generation that witnessed Dr. Spock’s failed experiment, I’m thankful that I used the Book that’s never been wrong.

Like every mom, I remember my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. For months we’d talked about all the new friends she would meet, interesting things she would learn, and the great fun she would have. Finally the big day came. Five-year-olds held tightly to mom’s and dad’s hands. Some children wailed loudly while others cried quietly. Teachers welcomed everyone and tried to maintain order. My daughter sat down happily in her little desk with her school supplies. For a few moments I stood beside her chair, glad that she’s not crying, but not quite knowing what to do. She looked up at me and suddenly it seemed our roles were reversed. “Mom,” she said softly, “you can go home now.” I’m very proud that she never shed a tear. Somehow, though on that clear, hot August day, my car’s windshield was so foggy I could barely drive home.

After a few weeks, I visited the classroom to check in with her teachers. Ms. Williams face broke into a huge smile as she welcomed me. “Your daughter is doing very well in class. But she’s delightful to watch on the playground. If anyone gets hurt or cries, she is the first one there to help them and cheer them up. In fact, she reminds me of a little missionary.”

Don’t ask me why I remember those words from 30 years ago. I guess like Mary, these are some words a mother keeps and ponders in her heart. Especially when those words turn out to be prophetic.

I suppose having parents, grandparents and a ton of cousins, aunts and uncles who loved her, my daughter took for granted that this was the case for every child. I remember she was very young when the painful realization hit her that some children did not have homes or families. She was silent for a few moments. Then with childish determination she declared, “When I grow up, I will have a big house for all the children who have no home, and I’ll take care of them there.” Now would you believe it? The mission station she and her family are traveling to has, among other things, a home for abandoned children.

Somehow it feels like I’m back in the kindergarten class. She’s so excited about the wonderful new friends she will meet, interesting things she will learn and the joy of introducing people to Jesus. And I’m very proud of her again.
--Kathy (www.kathylighterside(dot)blogspot(dot)com)

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