Saturday, January 14, 2012

Am I raising my kids for service - or to be served?

My father has been helping support an orphanage in rural Mexico for over ten years.  He has taken over 50 mission trips with various mission teams to the area, but due to having to care for my own young children, I have never been able to travel with him.  This past December I joined a group of other missioners on a 6 day trip to visit Casa Hogar La Familia outside the very small town of Quecholac in the State of Puebla about three hours east of Mexico City.  What I experienced there left me thinking deeply about how I was raising my own kids and if what American culture teaches is really superior for our next generation.

If I focus all the time on being MY best - then how can Jesus be seen?                                                As a mother of two girls ages 6 and 8, I often feel stretched beyond my limits managing the chores and responsibilities of my household.  In observing the married directors at the orphanage manage their family of 30 children I realized that God can expand the capacity to love and serve beyond what anyone can expect.  If I rely more on God and less on myself, perhaps I can do a better job for my family in showing love and being the Christian example my children need.

Our culture of excess is harming our kids
 I am not a mother who buys a lot for my children.  I don't give into every request and "I want" at the grocery store or elsewhere.  Even so, the items that our kids collect from birthday parties, happy meals, school treasure boxes, dollar check out bins, and souveniers from Daddy's last trip add up.  Prior to leaving on my trip I went though the closets in our house and was able to make 30 bags of silly bands, little stuffed animals, costume jewelry and candy that my kids, frankly, have never even noticed were gone.  The children of La Familia were grateful for each and every item they received.  They played with the items throughout the week I was there and made me realize that having less helps you to appreciate what you do have. 
I am depriving my children of the opportunity to have pride in themselves and their things. 
If you pull out an iphone at the orphanage, be prepared for a crowd.  The kids love to see pictures of your children and to get a glimpse of your life in America.  While flipping through my camera roll of pictures I was embarrassed at the excess in which I live compared to them. I was particularly embarrassed at the realization of my kids taking for granted their quality of life and the lack of appreciation for their things that come from that.   Their spaces are little but their respect for what they have is great.
Redefining Happiness 
What makes these kids happy is not a trip to McDonalds for an ice cream cone that takes ten minutes to eat.  Each kid in the home is assigned to one of three work groups each day:  Dishes, Clean-up or laundry.  Each child knows their responsibility and does it without asking.  They are not supervised nor is their work evaluated.  It just gets done.  They are happy because they contribute to their family.  They help make things work every day.  That sort of pride can't be found in a happy meal.

Manners are essential 
Meet Christopher. He is four and he loves chocolate cake.  Christopher got his sandwich and mexico style Funions and all he had to do was finish his plate and he would get a piece of chocolate cake.  But Christopher didn't take a bite of his sandwich.  Why, you ask?  Because everyone else in the house hadn't been served yet.  Christopher waited for 40 people to be served their lunch, waited (patiently, I might add) for Juan Francisco's beautiful blessing, AND waited for every single person at his table to complete their meal before he got up to get his chocolate cake.  Did I mention he was four?  Puts my girls to shame.
Boldly Proclaim "I am a Christian"
My Dad describes the directors of this home as "shining lights of Jesus Christ".  Never has a more true statement been uttered.  I know this because their 30 children reflect what they see.  They pray without hesitation, speak of Jesus with ease, draw the crucifixion with pride and they laid hands on the volunteers in prayer with earnest desire for us to receive their  blessing.  I believe that, despite a lack of material things, these children are better off than mine in so many ways.   

Am I raising my kids for service or to be served? 
Most volunteers at La Familia are recent high school or college graduates who have grown up in the local church network that supports the orphanage.  These girls dedicate a year of their life to service at La Familia - service to God.  I pray that I am raising my kids to be that selfless and willing to serve the Lord.  Maybe if I return to this wonderful place, twenty minutes from any city in rural Mexico, I might learn enough to return to my home and teach those things that have been taught to me.


For more information about La Familia, visit

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