Thursday, September 12, 2013

When Daddy Played with Fire

He left.  He gave us plenty of notice. We knew it was coming. But there we stood, facing the reality that Daddy had to go on another trip. This one wouldn't be as long as the last one when he went to the village, but we miss him no matter how long it is he is away. It would only be for two nights this time, but our youngest child, Gabriel, was convinced Daddy would get lonely. Then Gabriel handed Daddy Fire. Fire is one of Gabriel's most treasured stuffed animals. Fire went on the trip with Daddy. Not only did Daddy not get lonely, Daddy came up with an idea that is sure to make his future trips an exciting adventure for those he leaves behind.

Fire sleeping in his bed at the hotel

During Jason's trip, he turned Fire into a Flat Stanley/Elf on the Shelf mixture, travelling and exploring, while getting into a little mischief. He prepared a photo journal of the trip... from Fire's point of view. You should have seen the children, especially Gabriel, when Jason returned and told them the whole adventure one picture at a time.

Fire looking at a crocodile at a small park/zoo along the way

Fire attempting to drive on the dangerous mountain roads

Fire preaching at the new church plant (This was the purpose of the trip. It was the first official service in the new church, and a group from our church in the city travelled to support the national missionary planting the church. They also delivered some Bibles to this new church.)

Fire riding a rickshaw

Fire riding a small ferris wheel with his friend, Dipikha

Fire enjoying fellowship

Fire scared to death of the cable bridge

Fire conquered his bridge fear and had a blast!

Fire and Daddy at the hotel... with AC!!!! For one night only though. It broke!

Fire enjoying the scenery at a park on the way home

(The full story on this trip is found here at the Road Schooling blog, including what happened when men came in the service with the intention of stirring up trouble!)

When Jason is gone, the children get to do some things they never get to do at any other time. One of these things is a sleepover in Mommy and Daddy's room! We also save certain fun activities just for these occasions. So, when Daddy has to go, at least they have some really fun things to look forward to!

The day Daddy is expected to come home, it is always cleaning day. Every room must be perfectly spotless. The children do not look forward to the cleaning, but they do look forward to seeing Daddy's face when he sees how clean the house is! He loves to come home to a clean house, well-dressed family, and if the timing is right... dinner on the table. And we love greeting him with the things he loves so much!

Tips for When Daddy Must Travel
1. Prepare the children for the goodbye... not a sad one. A joyful one! Help them understand that you all are Daddy's cheerleaders! You are cheering him on to do great things for God through God's strength. Help them to focus on Daddy's needs. Gabriel was focused on Daddy and gave Daddy his special buddy. Focus on the purpose of the trip and how wonderful it will be for Daddy to do something special for the Lord.

2. Prepare special things for when Daddy is gone. These are things that can only be done when Daddy is gone. Let them know ahead of time that when Daddy is gone, you have special things planned... the moment Daddy leaves, have one of those things ready! For us, these things include a sleepover in my room, a new book to read together, special desserts or snacks, or special games.

3.  Keep calls positive. Be happy when Daddy calls. Let him know you all look forward to him returning... and you look forward to hearing his adventures as well as telling him about your adventures, too. The children will be more likely to keep things happy if you do.

4. Help them learn to serve. They will already be thrilled about Daddy coming home. Use that excitement to motivate them to find ways to be a blessing to Daddy when he gets home. Can they help clean? Make a welcome home banner? Fix a special treat for Daddy? Help them understand, too, that Daddy may be tired when he gets home. Maybe some of those preparations can include getting the bedroom ready for a relaxing nap. Allow the children to help plan as much of this part as possible. It will teach them how to focus on the needs of others.

5. Pray, pray, pray. This is a great time (from beginning to end) to teach your children about prayer.
  • Pray for Daddy: his safety, his spiritual needs, his health, for the Lord to guide his steps.
  • Pray for the ones staying home. You and I both know that when Daddy leaves, appliances and vehicles KNOW! They love to break when the "fixer" is out of town. This last trip, my phone died; the stove ran out of gas, and I had to change it for the first time ever; and there was a city-wide protest that kept us from going to church. But God took very good care of us. And I learned how to change the stove gas!
  • Pray for the purpose of the trip. Deputation trip? Furlough trip? Ministry trip? Personal needs trip? Pray for God to be glorified through the trip.
6. Have a "debriefing" time. We call them adventures. (Adventures is just a fun, positive word, isn't it?) It is a time of prayer and share when the family is reunited. Our family LOVES this time. We take turns sharing all the details of our separation time. My adventure was changing the propane tank. Michaela's adventure this time was a HUGE spider crawled on her arm! And Daddy's adventures were his time when he played with Fire.

(I am sure there are tons more tips that can be added. Please share your ideas and what has worked for your family when Daddy went on trips.)



Carole said...

What a cute idea! And what a thoughtful dad to do all those things with Fire!

My husband doesn't leave us very often, but when he does we also do special things and look forward to his arrival home!

Jolene Sloan said...

Such a fantastic post with lots of great tips and advice. My favorite tip, though, was {hands-down} Daddy taking pictures of the stuffed animal on all of his adventures. What a special treat for the children when he got home!

I have no doubt that you two are fantastic parents! Keep up the great work!