Have you heard the expression “Boots on the Ground?” Well our Live Dead Missionaries are the boots on the Silk Road. Here we’d like to take a moment and allow one of them to share a snapshot of their life with you. Some names and details have been changed, but this is a true story from this colorful, vibrant, and sometimes surprising region.
I step into the concrete block of a building with fading multi-color paint, my six-and-a-half-year-old trailing behind me. In less than a week this will be his school.
In public schools here, students have the same teacher for the entirety of their elementary school life: first through fourth grade. Four developmentally precious years with the same person. Of course, all the parents trickling in today feel the criticalness of their child getting a good teacher. That is why we were here, after all, to watch the draw of names and hear the big news of which students are paired with which teacher.
And yet I imagine my apprehension to be more profound than the others. For me this is not merely a concern of academic achievement. Will my son’s teacher treat him like he belongs, despite our passport bearing a blue cover rather than a red one? Will this teacher at the same time be sympathetic to the cultural differences my son is inevitably going to display among his peers? Will he build confidence in my child’s ability to communicate, but also be discerning and patient when things get lost in translation? Will he push his own religious worldview on my child, or respect and honor our beliefs?
On top of this anxiety, I feel the cumbersomeness of my own foreignness on this day. The assistant principal gives some brief, hasty instructions, but I don’t fully understand. The problem is not the words he said as much as the social schematic in which they are embedded. None of the schools I attended growing up picked teachers by drawing names out of a hat. The people coming, the people going, the half-assembled classrooms which lack the signage that apparently only I require…
My incomplete comprehension of it all is terribly uncomfortable.
I know we will figure it out as we go along, and yet the thought sneaks into my head, “What if we just go back and live in America?” But that is not really what I want. Not even close to what I want. That thought, I remind myself, is purely a seductive fantasy of escape for the moment.
The truth is, while it would be certainly different in America or any other location you could name, life wouldn’t necessarily be easier. Each place the Lord puts us has its own set of challenges, and His grace is sufficient for us through it all.
The truth is, I am living out the dream that God started settling in my heart years before my son was even born.
The truth is, God created my son’s inmost being. He knows him. He sees him. He has a wealth of love for him that is more than my own. God is a Heavenly Father I can trust today, tomorrow, and with every new milestone our family reaches as we walk in His calling.