I am back in the blogging routine again. At the end of June we were visited by our son Jonathan and his family. They live in Taiwan, where he teaches at Taiwan Theological Seminary. Their new routine is to return to the U.S. every other summer. So when they are here we want to spend as much time as possible with them. This summer we had them with us for just over three weeks. During that time our household expands from two to seven.
Jonathan and Emily have three kids. The older boy is six years old. The twins, a girl and a boy, are about three and a half. After a few days they become comfortable with us, then we spend all our time watching them, interacting with them, and learning what they like and who they are. It is a great privilege.
The three month stay in the U.S. has several purposes. It provides some time for rest and catching up with family and friends. There is also a need to visit churches and connect with groups who support and coordinate their work. Those tasks were mixed in with the time we shared. I visited three churches with either Jonathan, Emily, or both on the Sundays. When the grandkids came along to churches I was there as backup childcare if I was needed. I also was able to hear both Jonathan and Emily preach and describe the motives and purposes for their living in another culture. Since we tried to raise our children as followers of Christ it is encouraging to hear them describe their own faith and calling. Understanding the importance of what they do also makes it easier for us to accept the long periods when we cannot see (and touch) them. Computer aids like Skype and Facetime help also.
During the weeks here in Alabama there was lots of interaction between our sons and their families. Since David’s children are older we were happy to see them spend time with their younger cousins. Most days all of us had dinner together at our home or ate out together. What fun. My sister Nancy and niece Amy made the long drive from Wheaton, Illinois to spend a long weekend with us. That was for me a highlight of our time together. It was a reminder of the big family gatherings at my parents’ home when they were living.
We spent the last five days with Jonathan’s family in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There was lots of activity there, including one day of driving into the Smoky Mountain National Park. The stay in Gatlinburg took Jonathan, Emily, and the kids halfway back to Louisville, which was their next destination. On the last Friday morning we said our goodbyes at the hotel and we sent them on their way with a prayer and a blessing.