November 1 and 2 are big holidays here in the Philippines.
The cemeteries become like fair grounds with people camping by the grave of a loved one, vendors selling food, plastic light up toys, candles, flowers, balloons....families having reunions at the graveside of loved ones.
It's quite a spectacle.
We walked around the cemetery where Jerard is buried yesterday. We placed flowers on his grave but didn't camp out or have a picnic there, though we did enjoy some of the edible delights of the vendors.
Hopefully I can post some pictures soon. (The pics above are from a local website posted from this holiday weekend here in Davao).
Kurt took some photos on his tablet. I'm waiting for him to load them onto the computer. I'm really praying for a camera for Christmas!!!
We received email notice today from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)......
"On October 13, 2015, we denied your Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Relative, Fiance(E), or Orphan, ....We mailed you a decision notice that explains why we denied your case and your options. Please follow the instructions in the notice."
This is extremely disappointing news to us.
So, we are waiting for the letter that explains the reasons for denial.
We have an immigration lawyer to contact to help us get James to the USA.
We'd appreciate your prayers.
Psalm 62: 7-9
My salvation and my honor depend on God (so does getting James to the USA and all our life.) He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Our family is preparing, after almost 10 years on the field, to return to the USA in the summer of 2016 for a few years.
I want to start posting more blogs about missionary issues, struggles and joys with transitions, leaving a foreign land that has become home to all of us, etc.
While Kurt and I are "going home" (sort-of - - because honestly, my home feels here, yet I'm not fully in this culture, nor will I fit in typical USA culture anymore), for our kids home is here - Davao, Philippines. Our children were 12, 8, and 5 when we first landed in Davao.
When we take off next summer to the USA they will be 21, 17, 14 and 7. Kirsten and Ben have spent more of their lives in the Philippines than in the USA. Mikayla is almost 50/50. James has never been to the USA.
One year and six weeks after first arriving on the field our family grew by two.
Years of joys and struggles prevailed.
Jerard is in heaven now and like I said earlier, James will be moving to a foreign land when we bring him to the USA.
Two of our other children also view the USA as a foreign land - a new culture to learn, idioms to understand, etc.
Our kids are truly TCK's (third culture kids).
There are many advantages to this nomenclature; many struggles too. But in this post I want to honor my children by telling them some things from my momma's heart.
I give full inspiration for this posting to Rachel Jones (her website is at the bottom of this posting.) Any words in italics are direct quotes from her blog. She said it so well I decided to quote her rather than rewrite into my words.
In all our joys and journeys, dark times and happy times, God has been faithful. I've seen each of you grow in your relationships with each other, friends, and God in deep, abiding ways. Be encouraged that no matter what the struggle or trial or trail being walked God is ever faithful He will never abandon you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 4:31 and 2 Cor. 4:8-10). You are His workmanship, created in Him for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
You are the coolest kids on the planet You've whacked through jungles, fed homeless in the city park, visited squatter areas to pass out Christmas gifts, climbed up and down a volcano, learned a band instrument, flown internationally and domestically many times, killed your own chicken, tried bat, durian, jack fruit, balut. You've visited WWII battle sights, slept under stars, used all sorts of toilets, climbed part of the Banau Rice Terraces, have many international friends, know a smattering of Korean, Tagalog, Cebuano. You know how to adapt. Those are rich experiences.
I know it is hard. I watched you, my heart happy for you and my eyes teary, as you started school and I no longer had you home with me all day for homeschooling. I've seen your moments of hesitation when people are talking about something you don't understand, the puzzled looks on your faces when Dad or I use an American idiom that we need to explain to you. I hear your reservations about going to the USA - life there is a different pace; fashion may be a bit different, it's a big unknown. But together and with God's grace we will work through that transition.
I don't know what it is like.
I know what it is like to parent a TCK but I don't know what it is like to be a TCK. I've read books and listened to talks and attended seminars but you are forging a path I have not walked. I've got your back and I've got a box full of Kleenex and an ache in my belly from our shared laughter.
I do not know what your particular journey is like but I will
hold your hand, fierce, until the very end.
I am sorry for the things this life has taken from you.
The names of all the friends you have said good-bye to are branded in my mind. Grandparents and cousins at your
birthday parties and school events. The feeling of belonging to
a specific place, house, culture, language. Sports and musical and academic activities at which you naturally excel but will never fully experience.
I am thrilled for the things this life has given you.
Adventure and a wide-cracked-open worldview. The
opportunity to trust God when nothing around makes sense
or when everything around makes sense. Friends all over the world of diverse faith and languages and skin colors
and food preferences and economic levels. Creativity and the intrinsic ability to look outside the box, to see from another person's perspective. Real gratitude, stemming from an understanding that things are fleeting, gratitude for
relationships and for time spent in togetherness.
Adaptability. Courage. Courage.
I want to hear from you.
Tell me how hard it is, tell me the things you love, the things you wish were different, the things you would never change.
I need to hear from you what it is like, I need you to be honest with me about the goods and the bads and then I need you to let me hold you. And I need you to hold me.
I cry for the choices we've made. And then I defend them with passion.
Like our taking in the boys, the struggles with Jerard's health, our choice to adopt. The lack of furloughing due to the adoption process. The lack of exposure you've had to the USA will make the transition all the harder. But I'm praying for each of us and know God will be faithful to help each of you in this transition.
It isn't easy to parent a TCK, or any kind of kid, and I have
wept tear-stains into our couches and our pillows and the shoulders of dad's t-shirts. Sometimes I wonder if we have
been crazy or irresponsible. But then I look at you and I cry again, good tears, because you are beautiful and complicated and deep and these choices have been part of forming you
You are strong. You've been through international moves and medical crises
and hellos and goodbyes. You have tried new and scary
things. You have laughed and cried but I haven't heard you
whine and complain.
Even when we were all crammed together in a small apartment our first four months on the field, and in a small house for three years. You have more than embraced life.
You are unique.
No one else in the world has your story. And yet, you are part of an amazing community of people with stories similar to yours and stories different from yours, whom you can listen to and learn from.
You have built awesome memories. Remember all the OE trips you've taken? The outreaches you've participated in? Taking items to the flood victims at the church? Walking the Banau Rice Terraces? Sports at school? All-nighters? The snake in our driveway?
You have grief.
And that is okay, mom and dad are not afraid of it and
we want carry it with you.
You are creative.
You are empathetic.
You are wise.
I am so proud of you. And So Thankful to God for You.
I thank God for the missionary journey we are on, for the path where joy and sorrow meets. I look forward to His leading and guiding us on our way as we continue journeying with Him.
My children, I love you and thank God for you! Love, Mom
As I said earlier,
I give full credit for this blog post inspiration to Rachel Pieh Jones (http://www.djiboutijones.com/2013/03/1-things-i-want-to-tell-my-third-culture-kids/)
Sending a child out to play, to run, on the soccer field, seems like a safe thing to do.
Yet, here, any grass can house a snake, usually a cobra. And the soccer field at our children's school houses some.
So, in playing and in fun there needs to be a wariness too - a watchful eye for snakes.
As I pondered this I thought of the verses God has for us that warn us the same - be watchful - your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour - 1 Peter 5:8.
My son recently watched 2012, a movie about the whole earth flooding, and he's been a bit concerned about a giant earthquake and flood coming. This morning he asked me, "Mom, what would we do if a giant earthquake shook the whole world?" I told him that if that were to happen it would be because God ordained for it to be so and we would rest and trust in His providence and protection as we do in all daily life. (also made a mental note as a mom not to let him watch scary movies like that).
And it's providential that we will be studying Psalm 91 as part of his homeschool Bible lessons.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.You will not fear he
terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand
but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place--
the Most High, who is my refuge--no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear
lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
"Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation."