Two Worlds, One Family

Please welcome Anna, an MAF teacher who has been serving in Papua, Indonesia, this year. She’s currently in the States, teaching her students from afar. This is her first blog post for MAF.

mission aviation fellowship teacher with her class in Papua, Indonesia before COVID-19 self-isolation

Anna Pederson with her class the day before the lockdown started in Sentani, Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Anna Pederson.

Sometimes I identify with Tarzan. That may sound strange, but hear me out! Tarzan is a fictional story about a boy raised by gorillas, who then discovers there are other humans, people like him, after he has grown up in the jungle. Phil Collins wrote a song for the animated Disney movie titled “Two Worlds.” Growing up as an MAF missionary kid (MK) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are some things on a metaphorical level that I can really relate to in this song, and in Tarzan. Not that I was raised by gorillas, or that I grew up only swinging from vines and running around the jungle, though I did do that sometimes! Rather, I relate to when Tarzan realizes he loves both his family in the jungle and his newfound human friends who are like him, but come from a different world, and he doesn’t know how to be part of both these worlds at the same time. I relate to the song when it says, “Put your faith in what you most believe in, two worlds, one family.”

The Hillcrest School third grade class takes their work outside. Photo by Anna Pederson.

At the end of the story, when Tarzan must choose which “world” he wants to live in, is when I start to get teary eyed. I know what you may be thinking: Who’s this weirdo crying at an animated movie about monkeys! But, that idea about living in two worlds at once and constantly feeling the tension of trying to decide where you belong is just too real to the heart of a missionary kid!

As a young adult now, I bring my own MK experience to my role as a teacher of MAF missionary kids overseas. I get to walk alongside these little “Tarzans” as they navigate their own dichotomy of worlds. This strange time of Covid-19 has succeeded in complicating matters even more for myself and my students. With all the upset brought about by the virus, my 14 third graders are now spread out in six different time zones, and three different countries! We still connect every day virtually to do school, check in, and care for each other. Then we look up from our screens or our work and find ourselves in a completely different world! We’re not together in our classroom at school. Many of us are not even in Indonesia anymore.

The new normal for Anna and her students. Photo by Kelli Reynolds.

Covid-19 certainly has separated us all. I think many of us are feeling this tension right now, between worlds we used to live in or worlds that now only exist virtually, and the place we are quarantined in. But as the song goes, we may be in different “worlds,” yet we are still “one family.” As followers of Christ, we are one family, united in faith, love, and the saving grace of the gospel. Though my heart sometimes feels split in two, I cling to Jesus’ words in John 17 and pray that our temporary separation will bring us closer to each other and to our heavenly Father.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me- so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  John 17:22-23

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