What My Children Don’t Know

“Green means go. Yellow means slow down. Red means stop. Green means go…” The chanting from the back seat reminds me that my children don’t know what stop lights are. We are back in the US for the first time in two years, and my kids (5, 3, and 2) remember almost nothing of their passport country. It is funny observing what my kids don’t know. They don’t know that it can be cold outside when the sun is shining. They don’t know how to sit in a shopping cart or how to play outside with their shoes on. They don’t realize that they don’t actually know every other white person they see. MAF Missionary Lincoln Family Children enjoying a playgroundThey don’t know what a playground is or why there aren’t any ants in March. They don’t know that you can drink water out of the tap or what a dryer is. They don’t know where “home” is. And for a moment I catch myself mourning all of the things they don’t know … extended family members, smooth roads, watermelon. And then I hear my daughter’s voice call down in perfect French from the top of the slide. “Regard moi, Papa! Je suis très haut!” (“Look at me, Daddy! I’m very high!”) And I am overwhelmed with all of the things they do know. They can find Congo on a map and can recognize an okapi. They speak fluently in two languages and understand a third. They think a coloring book and new crayons are the best gift ever—being totally thrilled with the simple pleasures of life. They know how to sit on hard wooden benches through a three-hour church service. They are totally color blind—seeing all people as precious and can carry (mostly) intelligent conversation with adults and children alike. They honestly think they are related to everyone they love and have an adaptability that astounds me. And they know Jesus. So even though they don’t know what a toaster is, I gladly lay down everything they don’t know for the treasure of what they do.


  • Pam (Darting) Taylor says:

    Thanks. I needed that. It was many years ago that we were on the field in Costa Rica, Haiti and then San Quintin, Baja with MAF, but I can sometimes fall into the “Mommy guilt”, too. My kids were young when we were with MAF and I homeschooled them through High School and beyond…

    I LOVED being a missionary!

    My kids are now grown and married. I’m a grandmother now and I am living my NEW dream! I have my own Christian Life Coaching business. http://www.loavesandfishescoaching.com You might be encouraged to read the blog and newsletter posts. I still have a missionary’s heart and still in love with the Lord.

  • Karlene Stehling says:

    Thanks for sharing. I love your thoughts. And, thanks for sharing with the class today. It was great info.

  • Patti says:

    To be able to come full circle with your thoughts like that is a blessing! Rejoicing with you in what (Who) your precious children do know! God’s continued blessing on you as you serve Him with all you have! Keep up the Good work!

  • Kris Thede says:

    Mine were older when they figured out the real reason car’s have window wipers. Not for dust but rain! Mine share a lot of the knowledge that your’s do and I’m grateful for the life that the Lord has allowed us to share.

  • Rich Monson says:

    What a simply joyful post to read!

  • Jennings Boone says:

    Beautiful, Suzanne.

  • Vivian Conrad says:

    Arriving in the States after our first 4 years on the field (with another mission, not MAF), our family was met at the airport by my sister. On the way home she stopped for gas. All my kids (the oldest of whom IS now with MAF) jumped out of the van and ran into the 7-Eleven. My 7-year old son stood awestruck, slowly pivoting in the middle of the store. “It’s true,” he said, “there are things here I never could have imagined!”

    I never got tired of watching their joy in new discoveries, no matter where in the world they were!

  • Elizabeth Wilson says:

    Inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

    God bless

  • Sam says:

    This is beautiful. We are looking to become full time missionaries and things like this get me really excited. thanks for sharing

  • Foibled says:

    Right on!

  • Jim Manley says:

    Our kids are a “bit” older than yours, old enough to volunteer thankfulness for color-blindness and two language fluency. And that’s because Regina chose to follow me and my wild idea of flying for Jesus in the middle of the jungle. You demonstrate both a mom’s insight, and foresight. Thanks for saying it so well.

  • Bud Frank says:

    What’s more interesting than “They don’t realize that they don’t actually know every other white person they see” is when they speak to every black person in French.

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