Roots and change

Since this is our “personal” blog, I though I’d share a little bit about what’s been going on in regard to our future. Some of you have heard parts of our decision making process and have even received tearful phone calls on the subject (from me, not Tom, hahaha).  It’s on our minds again right now. Over the past year and especially in the past few months we’ve been thinking  about what we do after this year. This year is an extension of our last three year term. By next summer, we’ll have lived in Thailand seven years. This is the dilemma we are facing:

 Because our kids were so young when we moved to Thailand (or in Si’s case, was born here), we are concerned that our kids have a chance to experience their own culture, which would obviously mean a move back to America. They need a good education which we can afford (international schools here are so expensive and we see homeschool as a temporary solution), in English. They need time to experience extended family, and they need friends their own age who they can communicate with easily. They need to be in a place for awhile where they are not strangers/foreigners/different/a photo op.  As the kids get older, what they are lacking becomes more obvious. We are also sensing in our own lives that it’s time to go back and further prepare ourselves with continuing education, recruitment, other kinds of work experience, and we also feel the need for time with family. Now the other half of the dilemma… We are deeply committed to and tangled up in our life and work in Thailand. Exciting things are happening and we want to continue to be a part of God’s work here and the new work in Laos. It’s not something we can give up or give up easily. We still feel a call to be involved here and love our friends here. We are committed to the team we work with- they are our extended family and we have been through a lot together! We especially want to see our team grow and see more people take on this adventure with us! We also love Thailand itself- the culture, the food, the people, and our city. There will always be things we don’t understand and there will always be things that are hard to live with but that is true of any culture, anywhere. In many ways, it’s been our kid’s home culture and they will always be Third Culture (not fully a part of host culture or culture of origin, but somewhere between),

So, that’s what we are struggling with and trying to find answers to. Any change we make is going to seem pretty drastic and so we know we are looking at  transition stress.  Even now, we are going through cycles of peace and joy where we feel completely secure, knowing that God has good plans for us and also cycles of fear and anxiety, that our life is going to fall apart at the end of this “transition” year.  The “transition” part of this year has not really begun yet because we do not have certainty about our move or our future role at this point. We are still tentatively planning a move to the Columbus area in June. Please pray for us as we talk with RMM and as we consider the future. Pray that we will make wise choices for our kids, our family, and for our team here. Pray that God will provide all that is needed for our team during this time as well as provide for the fledgling church groups.  We are equal parts excited and terrified right now and could use your prayers for our emotions and our faith as well. We love you guys who have been on this big adventure with us and will be with us on our next! Advice always welcome!

I have a little analogy to try out on you. 🙂 When we first moved to Thailand I wrote a poem called Orchid trying to express my pain at not having roots and having the feeling that God had uprooted me asked me to depend on him (living on droplets).  Since we’ve been talking about this topic of giving our kids roots in their own family and culture, I’ve begun to think of us as a family of orchids. We do have roots now but they are long and hanging in the air- they don’t need soil.  They can be easily moved. You can hang one from a tree anywhere and it will grow (let’s leave climate out of this analogy). Is it possible to have roots but also be a physcially “portable” family? Is it possible to live between two cultures and continue to go back and forth in the long term and be a healthy and secure person? Things I think about…..

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