Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Half way there.......

I've been spending the week with these cuties while their mom and dad are on a mission trip.  As of today, we have crossed over the half way mark of my time here.  The eight days had promised to be filled with fun and lots of outdoor time.  There were lots of activities that were all ready a part of their "normal" week (think ballet and gymnastics) and a couple of added things (swimming at a friends house and a birthday party sleep-over for Ellie).  Plus whatever other things we could cram in.  And it as been a very full four days so far.  This picture was during a "cookie break" from swimming on Saturday. The weather was HOT this past weekend - our first really summer like days.  I was glad that Gwen and Tim had left their backyard pool for the kids to enjoy during this heat wave.
They added their small slide to the pool and spent most of the day in the water.  I did manage to get them inside for a short break during the hottest part of the day.  They had been begging to go to a playground, so we went to Zeke's favorite - the "fake grass park".  It actually has artificial turf on the entire playground.  I spent most of the time there sitting in the shade under one of the large climbing structures.  In addition to being 95 degrees, there was a gale force wind that was turning the nearby baseball fields into mini dust storms.  Sunday was more of the same weather wise.  Zeke started asking to go in the pool at 8:00am.  After several hours of pool time I managed to entice them into the house with a promise of a McDonalds play place!  So we headed off to have an early dinner and some more playtime in the (thankfully) air conditioned play area.  On Monday we were invited to a family friend's house that really looks more like a resort than a just a suburban home!  They have a large in ground pool with both a diving board and a slide.  They have a volleyball court (which to Anna was just a giant sandbox) and just to top it off, they have chickens!  It was 85 degrees at 9:30 when we were welcomed into the pool.  I was incredibly happy to sink into that refreshing water and float around for a couple of hours.  The older girls were invited to spend some extra time with their friends, so it was just Anna and Zeke and I heading home at lunch time.  After a quick stop for an "Icie" treat, home felt really good.  Zeke and Anna were quite happy to play inside for the rest of the afternoon.  Three days of this heat and so much swimming had tired them out.  

Gwen had left special presents for the kids to open on each day of their time away.  This was a thoughtful way for the kids to hear a bit about the trip that mom and dad were on, as well a some fun new activities to make the time without mommy and daddy a bit easier.  One day the special present was a bag full of craft supplies.  The kids spent several hours each making different things.  Ellie took the time to look up on google what a peacock looked like.  She had decided the moment that she saw the bag of feathers that she would make a peacock.  This is a surprise for the special friend who is having a birthday party on Friday.  So if you know Emma, shhhh! Don't tell her!  
Since today was going to be another hot one, we decided to go the library this morning.  They have a really amazing library with a kids area that just goes on and on.  The two hours we spent there were filled with all kinds of activities....

The older kids spent a short time playing on the IPads and Anna found a really cute barn with animals that she played with.  There is a craft section there and all of the kids made a Father's Day surprise for their daddy!  Everybody choose books and suddenly it was lunch time.  

Yes, it has been an busy time for me over the last four days.  I can not believe how many dishes four kids and one adult use in a day.  And with all the swimming, there have been multiple loads of laundry washed and put away.  And the towels....... four kids plus all day swimming and then baths at night and some morning showers equals too many towels to count!  And wash and fold!   Seriously, I have a new appreciation for just how much effort it takes when there are four children in a house.  No wonder Gwen and Tim are always tired! Seriously though, I wouldn't miss this chance to spend time with these kids for anything.  They are so much fun and so full of life. What a joy to be with them.

Tonight I got seriously teary eyed when Lia told me that she missed her mom and dad so much and couldn't wait for them to get home but she wished I could just spend another week with her after they got home.  Yes, it is so worth it to make the time to know these precious little ones.

This morning I posted a picture on Facebook of the kids praying for their mom and dad and the work they were doing on the mission trip.  They truly are taking part in this mission experience through prayer.  We have talked about the reason for the destination of this trip.  The various ministries that are being helped and the people that will be hearing about the love of Jesus and feeling that love through practical things like food, water and housing.  They all know that this is not a vacation for mom and dad, but a serious and important giving of their time and talents.  Thanks to the wonders of social media, the kids have gotten to see pictures from each day and watched their parents helping a group of young people learn about service and sharing Jesus.  If you want to see some of these for yourself check out their Facebook page Fellowship of Faith Student Ministries.  

It is so easy to think that the people who go on these trips are the only ones serving Jesus.  I love the reminder this has been for me of the importance of all the behind the scenes praying people for any mission trip.  I know that this time with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna is my mission trip.  I am so grateful for my faithful small group covering me in prayer.  Yes, it is ripples of prayer going out to accomplish sharing the love of Jesus with the world.  Each layer of prayer is vital and necessary.  My friends praying for me and the children, the children and I praying for the team, the church praying for the youth and leaders, the various ministries who are praying for helpers. All with the same goal, show the love of Jesus to the world.

Won't you join me and be a part of this sometimes hidden but so important work. Pray for this small group of servants.  Or find another group or person heading out on a mission adventure.  Commit to pray for them.  Put their pictures up on your fridge.  Or in your Bible.  Most importantly, just pray.  

Jesus, thank you for connecting us all together in your body.  Help us to remember that each one of us important to you and for your Kingdom.  Thank you for fun times and summer days.  Thank you for your great love for us.  Amen    

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