Travel, Otherness, and Our Kids

So my heart is still on the equator with red dirt roads, strong coffee, and sweet fruit. So thats what I'm going to talk about today because its my blog and I do what I waaaaaaant. Here is the big question about our trip that I have struggled to form a verbal or written answer to: Why did we take the girls? Why are we taking them back? 

It isn't that I don't have the answer, it is that the answer is so extensive and so fully comprehensive of the way God has asked us to lead our lives that it is almost confusing to me as to why it is a question at all. Many of the reasons were highly personal regarding our kids, their ages, and adoption dynamics. But even then I'm not too sure that we would have done it, and will do it, except that it fits into the bigger picture that we are trying to achieve for our family.

Listen, no one said it but I think the big question here was, why would we take them to a developing country. I mean I can't say for sure, but I suspect that if we had wanted to head to a resort in Jamaica or Mexico most people wouldn't have batted much of an eye. And, yeah, I used those specific places as an example for a reason. They are dangerous. In fact, you can't find a list of the world's most dangerous countries that doesn't have Mexico on it and Jamaica is known for random and spontaneous outbursts of violence. Y'all, we live in a state that borders the most dangerous part of a very dangerous country. 

So what does that have to do with taking our kids to a developing country in East Africa? Well, the purpose I'm hoping to serve here is to illustrate that no where in the world is anyone that far away from the fear. From the danger. From the different. (Okay, maybe Canada. Maybe.) That the bigger picture that we are trying to paint for our children is one that doesn't include "otherness."

We draw boundaries in our lives between people for a million reasons. Politics, geography, religion, race, education, and socioeconomic standing, they all factor in to our boundaries about what is safe and what isn't. Who is safe and who isn't. And the more lines there are the more unsafe someone feels. 

That's not Biblical though. 

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:8

If we are believers then it is simply our job to be united with "others" in Christ. 

But it goes deeper because of this:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

And this

Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

There isn't and "us" and a "them". 

We are all the same. We are all broken. We are all trying to heal. 

This doesn't require world travel to know. (Which is good because, let's face it, this is special circumstance and for most of our lives we won't be able to do it.) It only requires relationship. It requires letting God knock down boundaries between you and the homosexual runs that store down the street. Getting to know the immigrant family that moved in to town, maybe even trying to learn a few words in their language. It only requires seeing people as people and not as classifications, slapped with short labels to easily group. You can't show people that by His stripes we are healed if you can't see that they are broken people the same as you and me. 

But that is hard, laborious, and inconvenient work, so most of the time we don't do it. When we took our girls into the country that their brothers have been born and raised in, a country in which no one looks like them, talks like them, or has the things that they do, we had a unique opportunity to knock down the "otherness" for them among the differentness. Yes, things are different. Yes, people are different. But they are kids that like to swing like you do. That get hungry for an afternoon snack, and whiney when they are tired. There are mama's that want happy families, and daddies working hard at their jobs. There are students trying to make a future for themselves. And groups of people that get together to laugh and unwind. 

We work hard to read books and have open conversations that dispel this sense of otherness for our kids because we don't think it is Biblical, nor do we believe that you can truly love people that you categorically box up. 

So why did we take our girls to Uganda? Because that is where their brothers are and we all need to love among differences without creating otherness, a lesson we are slowly and painfully learning ourselves as we choke on our own preconceived notions, and our snap judgements. 

Imagine a world in which it doesn't take thirty years to start loving. In which children are taught to always see each other through God's eyes. Can you even imagine the power of God's glory in a world like that? 

It starts here.

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