On Being: A Missionary

Katie Kleinjung Life, Missions, On Being, Our Family Leave a Comment

A lot of people ask us what life looks like right now. Well,

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there’s a lot of this. Shepherd  being cute and/or weird, and Stephen encouraging it and me being the lap on which to sit. We knew that this time period was going to be about us being together as a family and healing before we leave. There has been literal healing as Stephen has fabulously recovered from his surgery (when I say fabulous, which I never say, I mean it. Dude was in the hospital a mere THREE NIGHTS and is running around like a CHAMP all day every day. It’s literally like I have my husband, full force happy and healthy Stephen, back.), but the healing has also been spiritual and emotional as well. As Stephen so eloquently shared, things were hard for a really long time. And in the past year, we, out of survival mode and as a way of coping with the trauma happening, made some really unhealthy patterns in our relationship and personal lives. Stuff that we didn’t even know we were doing until a few months ago we looked at each other and realized, “Wow, this isn’t the marriage we need anymore slash we’ve been surviving for such a long period of time that we don’t know how to just go back to being together.” Really, I promise, it happened just like that. Direct quote. Anyway, we decided to start seeing our therapist again. And let me tell you, people who knock counseling, well, no judgement, but they have no clue what they’re poo-pooing OR they’ve never seen the right guy. For us, having a professional to help us get to the point and sort things out has been invaluable. We’ve said this time and time again, but we want to leave from a place of plenty, not a place of need or lack, and this season, this time of healing, has been filling us up and erasing some of the deficit we’ve been operating under.

What else is happening? Filling our days? When we say we’re missionaries, what does that mean right now? This kid:

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This cutie obviously takes up a good amount of time. With his new skill of crawling, all bets are off. It’s like he has a death wish. All he tries to do is kill himself. Oh is this dangerous, well I LOVE IT THE MOST OF EVERYTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD AND HOUSE. The other morning I woke up and found Shepherd and Stephen playing in the den. Playing what, you ask? Oh, well, the chew on not plugged in cords in games, duh. We’ve given up and just started giving him cords. So. Those are the parents we are. Ask us to babysit. Aside from his apparent burning desire to seriously maim himself, Shepherd is the baby for us. I know we’re supposed to think he’s the cutest/smartest/most advanced/sweetest/generally BEST baby alive, and we like doing what we’re supposed to do, so we do in fact believe all those things about him. But for real, he is. We are constantly aware of the weight of being his mom and dad. And the inside baby, there’s also that one too. We look at Shepherd and try to picture him as a “big” brother. Can’t. I’ll take a nap with Shep and feel the inside baby kicking like crazy and it hits me, there will be two. Two boys God has trusted us with. So as we’re barreling toward Thailand, these two are along for the ride. The outside baby will be strapped to one of our backs and the inside baby just working on growing organs or something, but with us they will be. Ours they are. So as we prepare emotionally and spiritually, we are trying to prepare them. How? We let other people be with Shepherd. We try not to be controlling/overly freaked out just in general about him. We pray over him, read the Bible to him, spend time together as a family so he knows where he belongs. We protect his schedule while trying to teach him flexibility. We bring him almost everywhere and help him handle whatever environment he’s in. We know that there will be plenty of hard things that happen in Thailand. We know that schedules will be a joke at best. We also know that there will be a chunk of his and his brother’s life that will be spent being passed around from tiny Thai person to tiny Thai person and having unknown foods shoved into their mouthes. We’ve never been missionaries, we’ve barely been parents, so we’re making this all up. Stay tuned, who knows how any of this will turn out or if any of it matters.

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We’re also spending lots of time with those we love. As Stephen’s health is, well, in tact, and fundraising is going so well, the reality of leaving is glaring us in the face. And while it’s what we’ve worked for for over a year and a half, and what we want more than anything, and is literally my dream come true, it’s hard. It’s going to be a weepy couple of weeks before we leave for me. We have the most amazing friends in the world. Shepherd has some amazing grand and                  great-grandparents. And while we will come home every year for a good chunk of time, it’s the not the same as doing just normal, day in and day out life with people. It certainly isn’t LIVING with you friends and their kids who have become sister-cousins to your baby. To say Shepherd loves Cora, Quinn and Vera is an understatement. He hears their voices and starts panting like a puppy. No, really he does. Amos kisses Shepherd and Shepherd loves it. Matilda sits on him to prevent him from going up stairs (death wish). He has imprinted on Julia. It’s like his cousin Sophia sings a siren song of love at him and just makes him melt. And let’s not talk about how much his mom and dad love all these tiny humans and the larger ones that made them. Weep. I will just weep. We know that our leaving is telling a whole group of people who love us as much as we love them to just accept that we’re leaving. It’s not their choice, they don’t get an option like we do. In a lot of ways, it’s unfair. And we know that. We know that the sacrifices run deep in many directions. So, while we are here, we will be here. Shepherd will pant like a puppy and I’ll laugh until I pee and Stephen will photobomb. And we’ll figure out being gone and still loving the precious people we love so much when we’re gone.

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Finally, for us, being missionaries right now means meeting with people and reading and praying and packing and organizing all.the.things and going over budgets and sending emails and sending newsletters and going to appointments and getting so.many summer clothes for Shepherd from Once Upon a Child and should I get my haircut? and can we get ostomy supplies and Zoloft in Chaing Mai? and getting new phones and making sure everything legal is in order and just being.

Just being with each other before the next wave of crazy hits (moving, adjusting, culture shock, homesickness, NEW BABY AGAIN).

Just being with the ones we love before it’s screen we’re talking to.

Just being. For the first time in a long, long time, Stephen and I both slept so soundly all night last week. He’s healthy! Our bills were paid! Our babies are healthy! In all the insanity, we’re finding deep, abiding rest. And, as a pregnant woman, Lord knows I need minimal excuses to nap.

So, what does our life look like? What does being a missionary look like? That. For now.

Posted by Katie

Posted by Katie

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