My husband and I have long dreamed of taking each of our children on a parent-child missions trip in their early teen years. Outside of the obviously valuable opportunity to serve others and be the hands and feet of Jesus to people in need, we've seen it as a potentially important opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth, as well as a fabulous bonding experience.
We had looked for such an opportunity when our oldest daughter was turning 13. However, nothing seemed to "fit" -- either because of her age or the needs of the mission. But then our church announced an inter-generational trip to El Salvador in August of 2011. Just as a door in my heart seemed to fly open when I heard of my daughter's conception, a door flew open when I heard of this opportunity. I just knew it was something God was going to make happen for us!
Why would a trip to El Salvador be the one? Let me tell you some of the clinching factors . . .
When DD13 was 7, she saw some World Vision commercials asking for child sponsorships. They grabbed her heart; she wanted to sponsor a child. That same year, she started earning some money caring for a neighbour's dog at lunch time. What did she want to do with her earnings? She wanted to sponsor a child! And that's when her relationship with Jeanci began via Compassion Canada. They have written to each other for going on 7 years now.
Where does Jeanci live, you ask? Yup -- El Salvador! Is it likely that we'll be able to meet her when we go? YES!!!!! It's a very real possibility!!!!
Perhaps most poignant was Jeanci's last letter, written around Christmas time (before we knew of the missions trip) but not received until the week we learned of the trip! (It sometimes takes months to have letters translated and delivered.) The second last sentence of her letter said, "I would like you to come visit me." She had never said that before! (Nor had we ever suggested it, not even dreaming it might be a possibility!)
It looks like God is answering her prayer as well as ours -- with the same event! How cool is that?!?!?!
So, DD13 and I have excitedly been attending preparation meetings for this trip. One of the requirements is that we each begin bringing a journal to our meetings, and that we commit to spending at least a half an hour journalling every night while we're in El Salvador. (Oh, you know I LOVE such requirements!!!!!!) The very next day I went to the dollar store and purchased some new journals. They were pretty as they were, but I thought it would be extra special for DD13 and I to spend some time together altering them for their specific purpose.
Here is DD13's before we began:
She decided to keep hers simple, though it took her a while to attach all those eyelets . . .
And she wanted to put the pictures on the inside.
This was mine before we started. (I do like it as it was!)
This was my planning photo -- so I wouldn't forget where I had placed things as I secured them:
Of course, I wanted to incorporate colour and texture (things I'm fond of these days!) and I also included words and images that were significant to me in the context of the missions trip. (For example, the picture of DD13 and me was taken while we were on an impromptu detour to New York City -- an excursion so out of my comfort zone but so much fun for both of us! It's a symbol to me of our adventures together, as this trip to El Salvador will also be! Of course, the other little girl in the pictures is Jeanci -- very close in age to DD13 though she doesn't look it.)
Here is the final result:
I wanted to divide my journal into different sections, so I cut up some old library index card dividers and made my own tabs. You may have noticed from other posts that I'm rather fond of that leopard skin tape!
And I can still enjoy the original prettiness of the journal on the back:
I've already transferred all my other loose notes to my journal. I love it! It's going to be a wonderful reminder of our journey . . .
Has God been answering any prayers in your life lately? How are you documenting that?