I sat with my brothers in the back seat as we drove through big stone gates leading to our new school, boarding school they called it. David and I were starting first grade. Being only 6 and 7 years old, we didn’t really understand what it all meant. We had just returned to India after a year furlough and now it was time for school. Donald and Mark weren’t going to school yet; they were too little.
My mother took me to a building with many rooms off a long hallway. Daddy took David to another building. I looked around at three sets of bunk beds and chose a bottom bunk.
”But, where will you and Daddy sleep,” I asked my mother. She was quiet and her face looked sad. Usually Mommy smiled all the time.
She swallowed, took a deep breath, “We’ll sleep in the building over there,” she said.
After unpacking, we went to meet the boys. We had dinner in the dining room with everyone else. At bedtime, my father kissed me goodnight and took David to the boy’s dorm.
Mommy took me to my room to tuck me in. She seemed so sad. I hugged her tight, but she hugged me tighter. “Mommy, why are you sad,” I asked her.
“Everything’s alright Sweetie. You just go to sleep now and I’ll see you in the morning.” She kissed me and I lay down in my bed. Now I felt alone and sad, even though there were other girls in the room; I didn’t know them. No one was talking. I heard little crying sounds, and I sniffled too.
I felt better at breakfast; we were all together. The dining room was filled with other children and their parents, but it was quiet this morning. After breakfast we went to the car. My father squatted down, “We are going to go home now. David, you and RuthAnn will stay here for a while.”
Silence was heavy between us. “W-w-we-we’re staying here?” David stumbled.
I couldn’t say anything, just stare at them. “When are you coming back?” I finally asked.
“We’ll come and see you at Christmas. You’ll come home with us then. You are going to be fine here, you’ll see. All the other kids will be here too.” Christmas! Christmas? I looked at David and we reached for each other’s hands. Christmas was forever away.
“But what about my birthday,” David asked quietly, head down, feet shuffling.
The pause was long. “We’ll send you a package,” Daddy said. “And look! We have a package of candy for each of you now.” Candy! Wow! A whole bag of candy! Momentarily we were distracted as we took the bags.
“But you mustn’t eat it all right away,” Mommy explained. “It is all the candy you will have until we come back. Eat just a piece a day so it will last.” We nodded, “OK”.
Then Daddy said a prayer, but he stopped once-in-a-while and cleared his throat.
He scooped me up in his arms while my mother hugged David close. I hugged Daddy so hard. He kissed me and said, “Be a good girl. I love you.” His voice sounded funny. Then he scooped David up and Mommy leaned over to hug me.
I was hiccupping with my tears now. She was shaking too when she said, “Take care of David. Be a big girl now. I love you.” Daddy put David down and we all hugged in a circle, Donald and Mark too.
David and I held hands, waving tentatively as we watched the car go down the drive, tears streaming down little faces, eyes glued on the car. We could still see Mommy looking back at us, but we couldn’t see her tears or those of Daddy as he drove through the gate.
It isn’t easy being a missionary or a missionary kid, but my parents were faithful to God’s call:
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me’!"(1)
And God has been faithful to His promises to us:
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”(2)
What do we hold dearest? Will we trust Him with it, even when it hurts?
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