Readers, my mom and dad were in the country of Pakistan and raised five of us in that context.
Yesterday on A Life Overseas my mom shared a poignant story on children, choices, and ultimately learning to trust God with our kids. Would you join us there?
I have included the beginning of the piece here.
Do YOU think it’s right to take innocent children to those heathen countries?”
The small elderly woman confronted me with the question. Ralph and I were newly appointed missionaries hoping to go to India. I glanced down at my tummy- had she guessed I was pregnant? I didn’t think it showed yet. I likely mumbled something about God’s will and tried to change the subject.
We did take that innocent child with us to Pakistan, not India, and in the next 10 years we had four more. We were 20-somethings, full of hope and excitement and ideals. God in His mercy hid the future with its pain and struggle and tears of raising children overseas from us.
Not too many years later it had become clear to us that for most missionaries’ children in Pakistan boarding school was a part of that future. Our mission actively supported the founding of Murree Christian School in the northern mountains, eight hundred miles from where we lived. Five children from our mission were enrolled in its first year of existence.
“How can the Lord expect such an enormous sacrifice of us?” I asked myself. “It’s too much. I can’t do it. It can’t be right.” I struggled, asking how this could be God’s will for parents to send such young children away from home.
Eddie would start first grade in my home town during our first furlough. This timing put off our painful decision for a year. But God’s call to Pakistan was very clear to both Ralph and me. Did that call have to mean sending our children away at such a tender age?
In February 1959 Ralph went off to Karachi to arrange our furlough travel leaving me at home with the three children, behind the brick walls that surrounded our tiny courtyard. The Addleton family (Hu, Betty and their two little boys) were the only other foreigners in that small town in the desert and suggested we all go to the canal ten miles away for a picnic. Eddie was so excited that we were going to travel on the Queen Mary from England.
“I’m going to sail my Queen Mary in the canal,” he said, showing me the long string he had tied to a nail in the bow of his small wooden boat.
A couple of hours later, he stood at the edge of the canal, throwing his boat into the water and pulling it back. I kept an eye on him, but he was such a careful little boy. He would never fall in – Stan (his younger brother) might, but not Ed. A jeep driving along the dirt canal road, raised clouds of dust, and we checked the whereabouts of each of the children. Assuring they were all safe, we adults sipped mugs of coffee.
I looked around again just as the jeep passed us. Eddie was gone! I couldn’t see him anywhere. I jumped up and called his name, only to see his boat floating down the canal. Hu Addleton dove in, swam to the middle and began treading water, feeling the bottom with his feet. Bettie gathered up the little ones and the picnic things loading them into the Land Rover. I stood, helpless beside the canal. The water was so muddy, the current so swift. How could Hu possibly find my little boy in that murky water?
Then Hu called out, “I’ve found him!” He dove under and came up holding Eddie’s limp body. He handed Eddie up to me and somehow I knew what I had to do – that morning waiting for the Addletons to arrive, I had re-read a Readers’ Digest article about what was then a new method of artificial respiration, called “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.” Eddie’s face was purple. I cleaned mud and sticks out of his mouth, before turning him onto his stomach to see a gush of water from his mouth. Laying him on his back, I started breathing into his mouth. Hu knelt beside us on that grassy canal bank praying loudly, begging God to give us back our son. How many minutes past, I didn’t know….
Read the rest here.
Thanking you for joining us to read this poignant, personal story!
5 thoughts on “No Easy Answers – A Life Overseas”
People are so quick to condemn missionaries sending their kids to boarding school these days. But they fail to remember that God’s ways are not always our ways, and His thoughts are higher than ours. I used to say if you can trust God to take care of you and your spouse, can you not trust Him also to take care of your children? I loved my years at Murree, though there were certainly hard days and difficult people, not to mention the terrorist attack. 8/5/02 is equal to 9/11/01 for me. But God was so CLEARLY at work, and He did such miraculous things out of the sorrows of both dates, that I do not wish either day had not happened. It was part of God’s plan, part of His best, for me and for each person involved. As the current song on Christian radio says, Thy will be done.
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Thanks so much for working there and being there during the attacks. I remember weeping when I got the news and can’t imagine what it was like for your during the time. I also get frustrated with condemnation as it feels so personal and judgmental. My mom also always struggled with the statement “Well, maybe you can send your kids to boarding school, but I would never be able to send my kids away like that.” She always wanted to cry at that.
Yes, I heard that line many times, too. I have tried saying things like “Jesus is worth this sacrifice.” But people, even Christians, tend to hear what they want to hear…
Thanks Marilyn for including this amazing read from your mom’s hand. I wept through much of it. I worked as a teacher at our organizations boarding school in Penang, Malaysia years ago. At first I did not really realize just how much the parents had to sacrifice in sending their kids to us. Many of the kids I taught are now missionaries in SE Asia. So glad I could fulfill MY calling and see it be a part of the bigger picture of what God is/was doing!
Esther Johnstone Beaverlodge, Alberta
Quoting communicating across the boundaries of faith & culture
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