The Pull of the Grandchildren

Natalie’s parents enjoying their grandchildren in Papua.

Natalie’s parents enjoying their grandchildren in Papua.

Sometimes people tell me they couldn’t do what we do, that it must take a special kind of bravery to face the myriad challenges of life overseas.

But I think my parents have the harder job, and a kind of courage all their own. My husband and I chose this life we live in Indonesia. My parents, on the other hand, did not choose to have their child, their only daughter, move halfway across the globe, taking along with her their grandchildren.

The pull of those grandchildren is strong. Four different times, my parents made the long journey to visit us when we lived in Kalimantan. This spring, they made their fifth journey to Indonesia, this time visiting us in our new home in Papua.

I worried for them, knowing that it’s a draining trip, with many connections along the way. I fretted over what they would think of our current situation, if they might freak out about malaria or the scary and unpredictable neighborhood drunks.

But thankfully it’s been a wonderful visit. It’s always fun to see our life through a visitor’s eyes. We get so used to our life here that we forget the roads are more pothole than road, that freshly picked pineapples are far superior to store-bought ones, that the view out our back window is stunning. Several times my dad has commented, “Papua is growing on me!”

There have been some amazing moments: snorkeling over a coral reef, going on a field trip with one of the kids, flying along with David for a day. There were also some tense moments, including an interaction with a drunk. They took it all in stride, and Dad’s comment was, “Well, now we know how to pray.”

I’m so thankful for their prayers, support, and willingness to bravely travel farther than anyone in their right mind should, just to see us.


  • The reverse experience, grandparents heading to the field, has similar opportunities.

  • Felice says:

    I admire your parents for their dedication to their family and precious grandchildren. It’s great that they are so supportive of your God-led missions location. So important for your children to see that even the relatives in the USA are still “close”. How’s your financial support? Is it stable or do you need more $$? I do think of you often. Much love, The Sandners in Colorado.

  • Audrey Neild says:

    It is true. Our kids are in Papua Indonesia, we went last year and we can’t wait to get back! If we didn’t have a handicapped adult daughter here to care for we would be retiring early and staying as long as we could. We love going and encouraging our kids and our grand children. We love the people there and my husband looks so forward to going back and working along side our son in law. I look forward to going and working with our daughter and hanging out with our three grand children.

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