What an amazing institution that God has designed? They tend to know us better than we want to be known on occasion. They are the source of our greatest joys and some of our deepest disappointments. They may look very different in different cultures and at different stages of our lives, but these are the people that we have the biggest commitment to and that have the biggest commitment to us. It seems like each family has their own unwritten rules about how things are done, some of these are cultural related and some are just specific to an individual family. While we were in Niger we had a couple of opportunities to open our home to minister to ladies that needed a place to stay and they became part of our family. As a result we had the opportunity to learn some of their unwritten rules and discover some of our own.
It was interesting to discover something about family dynamics in Niger. My friend told me that the younger sister is expected to help with chores for an older sister and in return is free to ask for financial help or to borrow any clothing or other items that they might have need or want of. It made a lot of sense in the context and doesn’t sound too different from life here. –At least I know that I have been blessed by hand-me-downs from my sister over the years.
When you leave your extended family behind to serve in another country it can be really challenging. Who do you turn to for help with your kids, or when your car breaks down, or when you have a medical emergency? This is the loss that happens when someone converts to Christianity in Niger, most times they become outcasts from their family and friends. This is where the church has to fill in the gap. It is a complicated process filled with difficult decisions. How do you care for others without having them become financially dependent on you (especially when that is what they are used to)? How can you make what you have spread far enough to care for the need? When is it ok to say no, I don’t have any more to give?I have really been enjoying being home these last few months and reconnecting with family. It has been great to be able to not only visit but to be able to help and hopefully make a difference by being there. Isn’t that what family is all about?