Kendra left for the U.S. today. She is flying by herself, via Los Angeles, to Colorado Springs. After a few days there with grandparents she will once again fly alone, leaving at about midnight for an all night flight, arrive in Newark, NJ in the morning, and spend a few hours there before catching a flight to The Dominican Republic! This is a dream she’s had for a long time; to go on a summer missions trip. Merge Ministries, a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church, helped her get teamed up with a youth group from Monticello, MN for a week in the D.R. No one in our family has ever been to the Caribbean so she is forging new paths.
At the same time, I must confess to a twinge of parental paranoia… Finding out, some 12 hours before her departure, that her ticket to the D.R. had her going into the wrong airport didn’t exactly help! But today we got to the airport early so we could go to the DoCoMo store (one of Japan’s big three cell phone service providers) in the terminal and get everything sorted out so her cell phone will work when she’s in the U.S. and the D.R. Now I’m back home and she is presumably somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
Letting kids do things on their own is never easy, but I’m reminded of when she was a toddler. She wasn’t even 2 yet and I would take her to the park while her big brother was at kindergarten and Hydi was at language school. She loved to climb things… ladders, walls, ropes, fences… it didn’t matter; she just liked to climb. And I let her do it too. Of course there was a pretty high chance that any kid her age would slip and fall. Other parents in the park would either say “no!” and carry their child away from the climbable object or else keep a hand on their toddler as she tried to climb. Of course, nobody wants their kid to fall and get hurt! But I had a rule that I stuck to in those situations. If she wanted to climb I let her. Of course I was always right behind her with outstretched hands, ready to catch her if she slipped and fell; but I never actually touched her or let her know or see that I was there. I knew that if I had my hand on her or was holding her arm, at some point she would just let go and depend on me. But I wanted her to learn how to climb safely. I wanted her to learn that she had to hang on and figure out how to get to the top by herself.
Well, I still think that’s the right thing to do. But somehow, when she is 17, going on 18 and the ladder she’s climbing goes up 35,000 feet and reaches all the way across two oceans to a place about which I know nothing, it’s a little trickier to hide my concerns and my readiness to jump to her aid. Nevertheless, we are letting her go! And in all honesty we are pretty excited for her. The fact that it’s a missions trip makes it even more exciting. Her great grandparents first came to Japan as missionaries in 1928! All four of her grandparents were missionaries too! I guess she comes by it pretty honestly.
So if you have a moment and are so inclined, please pray that she will experience safety, meaningful service, friendship and faith nurture during her time away.