Monday, April 18, 2016

But, I don't want to go back!

The Wife and 4 of our kiddos have recently traveled back to Canada for a vacat... work.  They traveled back for work.  Lets be honest here, anyone serving in a foreign country knows that when they return home, it is never for a "vacation".

Mr. Snuggles and some of his cousins!
Yes, true, the Wife and the kids are not in China trying to help orphans now, or help build up the local body, they are back in Canada in what many have been referring too (rather incorrectly) as a "vacation".

First off, let me say a HUGE Thank You to all our friends and family who helped host the Wife and kids, who took time out of their lives to sit with them, talk, play, eat, go bowling, etc.  This has been one of the best trips home we can remember - the kids have been loving the time with family and friends!  Thank you - Thank you- Thank you for loving on my family!

The Girls

But as always, there is never enough time to see everyone.  And to those we didn't get time to see, maybe next year.  

The Cousins... Mr D is missing... hmmm...
Oh good, there he is!
But getting back to why this ISN'T a vacation, and the title this blog... I don't want to go back!

And no, it's not because of the weather.
And no, it's not because of the mosquitoes.
It's definitely not because I'm trying to avoid family or fiends.

It's a much simpler reason.

It's hard... and I'm a suck.

First, there is the Travel.
  • My wife has had to travel (literally) half way around the world to get home.
    • That's hard.
  • That trip, was over 26 hours of straight traveling - that's 26 hours without your children in a bed.  26 hours with children who don't get to sleep or eat properly for over a full day.
    • That's really hard.
  • Now, do that with 4 children... alone.
    • That's really really hard.
  • And then, while you are by yourself and 4 children, deal with the 13 hour jet-lag.
    • That's really really really hard.
  • And then help all 4 children deal with their jet-lag, WHILE trying to keep them happy while visiting people.
    • That's really really really really harder.
Then there is the Visiting.
  • NOW, add onto that living out of a suitcase for 4 weeks.
    • That's harder.
  • Living and sleeping in other peoples houses and basements for 4 weeks (remember when your kids were young, just trying to put them down for a nap in an unfamiliar room was hard) .
    • That's really harder.
  • Having to fit in so many visits and all the pressures to visit all the family and friends that you can in a super crazy busy jet-lagged I'm a single parent with 4 children trip as you can...
    • That's really really harder. 
NOW, add onto the Travel and the Visiting, all the Medical/Logistical "stuff".
  • Add the 4 or 5 visits to the spinabifida doctors, the neurologists, urologists, mental development-ists, attachment disorder specialists et. al, and you've got yourself a very busy... very stressful trip home.  Not to mention expensive, stressful and time consuming.  Anyone ever have to wait 6 months to see a specialist?  Yeah, now imagine trying to get (no less than) 5 specialists (per child * 2) to agree to see your children all in a 2 or 3 month period. 
    •  That's hardest
  • OH, and then there is actually that whole "we're serving overseas" and all the logistical stuff we have to do for that. 
    • That's har... well, actually, the medical stuff is harder.
  • Ah, I also don't get to see my kids for like, I donno, 3, 4 or 5 months?  Depending on when/if I get to see them in Canada or have to wait until they can return to China.
    • That's... well, that just sucks.
 And the worst part?  The absolute hardest part?!?!
  • This is the yearly reminder for our children as to what they had to give up so that we could go overseas and try to help orphans in China. This is their trip home where they get to experience that loss all over again.  

This is the one trip home when they get to see all the places they grew up loving, and then have to say goodbye again.

This is the one trip home when they can eat all the yummy food they love and miss, and then have to say goodbye again and return to chicken feet and pigs blood tofu.

This is the one trip home when they can see all their friends and family whom they love deeply, and then have to say goodbye all over again.

This is the one trip home when all of that hurt, loss and goodbyes are remember and lived... again.

Did I mention they missed the Canadian food?
So on behalf of any missionaries who may return home for a "vacation" - let me just say...
When people come home, understand this is not an easy time for them.  This is hard.  We may not get to visit you all, or spend as much time with everyone as we would like, but we love you, miss you, and hope to see you again next time.  But this is not easy for anyone right now, not a vacation, and definitely NOT easy.  Did I mention it's NOT easy?

PS:  Wife, you're a Super Awesome Cool Wolf Squadron RockStar for managing a trip half way around the world by yourself and 4 kids!!! 

PPS:   I made toast... and it was burnt.  

PPPS:  Wife, how do I use the clothes washer?


  1. Oh my!!!!!! Sounds absolutely brutal! The jet lag.....oh my.....the doctor sleep...out of routine kids..... It is SO hard to live with other people with your kids in normal circumstances! I know it is hard for the hosts too, and my God BLESS them for allowing it. But hard for all. Prayers for your family go up. Wish Canada wasn't so far from Colorado :) I'd beg her to add me to the list :)

  2. Wow, you are right! That is far from a vacation, what a great eye-opener to what a missionary's life is like when they come home! Blessings Roberta! My hat is off to you as you juggle a very busy schedule! Blessings to your sweet children that have given up so much!

  3. Adrian you are correct....
    Roberta is amazing with the kids....and having Belinda here that 1st week was a God Send...
    Roberta is strong because of the strength she receives from God and you....the kids are strong because of the strength they receive.
    Having made that trip once, has given us a WHOLE new respect for all of is brutal!
    We pray that all the appts etc will fall into place...
    God bless

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  5. Normal vacations, on the stress scale from 1 to 10, are about eight; somewhere in between the stress level equal of loosing a child or divorce. Only reason most people survive it is because they know that was self induced.....

    Just kidding.... it's all good.... :-)!

    1. Yeah, like driving from Northern Manitoba to Victoria Island and back in a week! All while *someone* catching Scarlet Fever or Kawasaki Disease, or something. :-D Aaaah, good times! Good times! :-)

  6. As a former U.S. Foreign Service dependent, I remember some of what you speak about from the kids' point of view... and "hard" is definitely an understatement. A trip home, for a few weeks or a few months, is certainly no vacation and you're never really home -- you're living almost like an indigent or a foreigner. And then, as you mentioned, just about the time you start getting used to being back where you originally came from, you pack up and head back to where you've been. Yah, hard... like very.

    But (and I'm purposely not using the obvious cliché) you grow from it. You learn about yourself, your inner strengths & weaknesses, and you find yourself creating your own tools to deal with the situation in a positive way. You become what some very smart professionals have labelled a TCK -- Third Culture Kid. There's your first, or passport, culture (where everyone says is "home"), the second culture(s) of where you're living, and then the third, internal culture that grows within you and stays with you all your life. You're seeing this and I'll bet even money that the kids are too -- and building that internal culture that will serve them well through the rest of their lives.

    Breathe easy -- you'll get through it and so will the family. Hey, you didn't want to be bored, did you?

    1. HAhahaa! Yeah, BORING sucks! :-)
      Actually the TCK is something we're very aware of... and we do worry about that on a somewhat regular basis. Especially for the adopted children. We figure they already don't feel Chinese or Canadian... and now they are living as foreigners in their native land. I mean, that's gotta be hard to process...

    2. It *is* hard to process, but that doesn't mean it isn't *being* processed. You can check out the book, "Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds" by David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken. There are also a couple of bushel-loads of links online (many of which I think will be accessible from China) if you search online for Global Nomads International. Being a TCK myself, I can tell you that the overall experience is both high cost and high value, but that your kids (and you & the missus) have LOTS of company. Unfortunately, some TCKs grow up embittered by the experience, but they most often seem to be those whose parents didn't think there could/would/should be any problems for the kids resulting from their situation. I think youse guys are handling it well (even just stumbling through it on a day-to-day basis together is "handling it well") and I'll end here before I hijack any more of your blog. :-)