The Whole Wide World

I carried with me a pretty bad case of wanderlust for all of what I remember of my youth. God saw fit to put me together with a husband who would take me all over the world. We were certainly vagabonds, we’ve been to 18 countries together I think. Most of that in a 4 year span. We lived in the Middle East. We’ve done south America and China, and the obligatory Europe 😉
Sometimes motivated by missions,  sometimes motivated by boredom or a sense of adventure, traveling has made a huge impact on my life. Now that we are parents we are deciding how to bring all that into our family.
I’m really thankful I was born an American. It’s given me great opportunity and nowhere impacts us more than the land we grow up in. As I’ve traveled though I’ve definitely become more of a global citizen. I also feel my faith as a Christian really pushes me to see a bigger picture and try and see everyome as a person no matter what they look like or what language they speak I’m called to see them as made in God’s image. Not that I always succeed, like all of us I want to generalize and fit people into categories or ignore the plight of large groups of people because I feel powerless in the face of it. Culture shock can also bring out the worst in my heart I’ve found. In general though,  traveling made it impossible for me to see the world through one lense. When I hear any news story I have to think its so much more complicated than the media suggests and it’s so much easier to empathize with people who are really different from me and have compassion even when I disagree, again I don’t always get it right,  but traveling definitely made me more open minded and hopefully opened my heart. Recently I read Roman Catholic Cardinal Kasper’ s remarks about how the African church “shouldn’t tell them too much what to do” and how priests from outside the West really weren’t being listened to in their recent synod (due to their beliefs on sexual morality). I won’t even go into all that’s wrong with that, but I want to do everything I can to keep my kids away from the mindset that allows such thinking. It has zero place in the Church. You don’t decide who gets a seat at the table based on culture and race. The fact that someone disagrees with you does not mean its acceptable to relegate them to second class status.
So, we have kids we want to raise as citizens of the world. We want to raise thoughtful adults and hopefully Christians who have the faith to see the church as so much bigger and more varied than one local body. I’m less afraid and it strengthens my faith when I think of the believers who worship in so many ways and live their faith in so many varied contexts.  God doesn’t want us to be threatened by variety the way I think a lot of tend to get in our own little camps, he created it!
I want the world to seem accessible to my kids. Its not that big a deal to travel. I mean planes have been around for a while 😉
So we are starting with language Spanish and Chinese right now. Just seeing the world through more than one linguistic lense trains the mind to process more complexity I think.
We definitely have travel plans as they get a bit older, for now we are focusing on language, including an awesome language immersion camp we found which I’ll link to for anyone interested.  Especially for you homeschoolers wondering what you’ll do about those foreign language requirements 😉
We are finding really cool books to share with Leia that highlight other cultures as well. It’s fun. It’s a lot of energy and resources too, so I needed to remind myself a bit why this is such a huge value for our family, why I feel I have to pass this on to my kids as best I can.
Will they be missionaries or diplomats? Hey, I’d be thrilled,  but they may live all their days in the US and that’s cool too. It’s as much about how it forms our character to travel as it is anything else.
Here are links to some of the resources we have found and are enjoying 🙂

Language immersion camp for kids adults and families!

A series of books for kids about life in other countries (I’ve seen the cool mail order passport thing too bit haven’t signed up yet)

Leia’s immersion school, most cities should have things like this. Obvious in LA you’ll have more options than Dayton!

Visit churches in other languages, like Spanish or Chinese congregations.

Foreign exchange students is something we may do when our kids are older. We are hoping to get a Chinese student from the local university for a language exchange or .babysitting in Chinese 🙂