Years ago, when our children were babies, we used to dream with these folks about going to live together in Latin America. We shared the dream of expanding our horizons, of instilling the values of peace, justice, and respect for others. We wanted to go, but we were scared to go at it alone, to leave our community and the friendships that sustained us. But, we also knew that MCC would not likely place two families together, and that our friendship may impede our ability to integrate within the community within which we were placed. And we feared the ways these experience can change relationships. I find it profound how even then, we knew what a big leap this would be.
Ten years later, with a strong nudge from Aaron, the five of us decided to go. What a blessing it was when we heard from MCC that there were others going to Colombia at the same time we we were. While we did not have any history with them, to know that there would be other children to accompany ours and other adults who were intentionally taking this on as reflection of their commitment to justice was a significant help.
We almost felt giddy as we anticipated getting to know Neil, Elizabeth, Greg, Susanne, Caleb, and Ascher. It is strange to get to know new people, knowing that it is very likely that your relationship will be significant. Just sharing the process of vulnerability, adventure, and culture shock brings you together.
Caleb, Ascher, Lydia, Andy, and Abby have shared many games, sports, books, movies, special snacks, stories of difficult teachers and embarrassing moments in Spanish, homesickness, boring parent meetings, yearning for familiar celebrations (Halloween, birthdays, etc), learning about poverty and desperation, facing extreme contrasts in life, strange foods (learning to love them), and so. much. more.
Aaron and I really wanted to do this when our kids were in "middle childhood." We wanted this to be an experience that they would remember, treasure, and would form them as adults. Some argue that after 8 years old, this experience is just too hard for kids to adjust...that the difficulties far outweigh the benefits. I don't agree. While this has definitely been the hardest experience our children have ever had, it has most definitely been the most rewarding, and I would not change that for anything.
So now, one year early, Caleb and Ascher, Susanne, and Greg are going home, and we have spent the last few weeks saying goodbye. The goodbyes have been so very sad, but not because of lost time together. We have settled into different routines, different schools, different churches here.
But the companionship that will be lost between our children is something we mourn.
And the gratitude for what we have shared remains.
Thank you to the Walker-Wilson family for taking this leap with us.