Celebrating special events such as birthdays, Easter, 4th of July, Christmas, etc. can often be a stressful time for missionaries. These events are times when you would normally be with family and friends. It is difficult not to let the absence of those you love overcloud the fun and excitement of the event itself.
March holds 2 important events in our family. Both Abby and Josiah celebrated birthdays this month. My heart aches that our family was not here to celebrate and that they are yet another year closer to life without the safety and confines of our home (wherever we may be at the time.) Abby met a huge milestone turning 13 on the 5th. Can I really be the parent of a teenager already? We celebrated Abby’s big day with a Dr. Who party with just our little family. Abby adores the Dr. Who show and was so excited to play games and have everything decorated around her favorite theme. Josiah turned 4 after seemingly being born just a week ago. He invited 2 friends to his superhero birthday party and we enjoyed playing games, eating cake, and playing.
I try to give the children the feel of a big party through printed decorations and fun games. With the absence of family and friends I want to make the day as fun as possible. However, my computer and printer are my main resource as stores here do not have “party gear” and there is no Hobby Lobby for several thousand miles…sigh. But, it is possible to give a fun party in a third world country that is similar to home.
Placing first world children in a third world culture can be difficult and confusing in many ways. They struggle to understand so much on a daily basis. Why do they live like that? Where is their car? Do they cook outside? Is their house made of mud? Do they have birthday parties too? Even questions such as “Can we go to chick fil a for my birthday?” or “May I have a little Zurg toy for my birthday?” are difficult knowing there are no fun restaurants here and definitely no quality toys, especially not requested ones! We realize that parties aren’t the most important thing and certainly not toys, but try to keep some semblance of home while living in a place far different. This even brings guilt in your heart of spending money on a party that you know your neighbor could never have. Should I skip the party and give the money to a family in need? I’m not sure I always make the best choices in all areas of missionary life, but as a mommy I feel the need to care for my children as I would if they were in their original home.
Please continue to pray for our family to make the best choices we can concerning church, family, and work in the field.
- Tiffany Gaines