When Everett was five years old, long before we ever talked about adopting from Ethiopia, he confidently told us that he was going to be a missionary to Africa. He never said he wanted to be a missionary, he said he was going to be a missionary. For the past five years, he's continued to say, "When I'm in Africa..."
I never expected my five year old to declare that he did indeed know what he was supposed to do with his life. I watch this oldest child for indicators that he will grow up to be a missionary. I watch from afar and hope to see some sacrificial behaviors or maturity beyond his years.
But he's TEN. He loves Lego's and reading fiction. He sword fights in the backyard and pretends to be mortally wounded as the dog bounces on top of him. He reads his Bible every morning, but an hour later is yelling at his sister for using his mechanical pencil. He is TEN.
It's so hard to remember that he's got incredible aspirations and hopes, but he's still just a little boy. Yesterday, we had a very busy day. Classes for three hours with our home school co-op, then a fall party that I had to help coordinate. Following the party things had to go without incident in order for us to make it to the missions conference after dinner. The kids left the party with Seth and I had to stay to clean up. On my way out, so far without incident, Seth called. Sally had zipped her belly into the skirt she was putting on. I could hear shrill screaming in the background. Seth, trying to get dinner for the kids, was a wee bit frantic. I told him that he just had to pull it off, or Google a solution. Thirty minutes later, I show up at the house with less than two minutes to grab dinner and get into the van so we could make it to church. I was greeted by Sally, in panties, at the table eating. She looks at me and starts sobbing. Tenderly, she lifts her shirt. She's got a ragged square of skirt and zipper hanging off of her belly.
Okay. This is so something I would do, like crazy. Not at all what I expected to see when I got home. Seth, looking rather sheepish, shrugged and said, "I felt too bad to do anything but cut the weight of the skirt off of her. Then I gave her dinner and decided to wait for you."
So we decided that we weren't going to make it to the missions conference. I heated my dinner up. We told the kids to just go ahead and put on their jammies. Everett, already wearing his coat with his Bible in hand, couldn't believe what we were saying. He stepped into the hallway and looked back with tears in his eyes.
Wait, is this what I've been looking for? These signs that our child really does care about things beyond fun times? He's visibly upset about not attending church...on a Friday night? Tears make their way down his cheeks and he solemnly looks at Seth and I.
"I'm just very sad about missing the missionaries tonight."
Severely chastised, Seth grabbed his coat and the keys and took both boys while I stayed behind to...deal with the zipper. A few hours later three very happy guys return. A Haitian pastor had preached, a Filipino couple had sang with such passion many were moved to tears, and a family from Spain had presented a video of their work.
"Mom, it was the best night ever. I'm sorry you missed it."
And he's only ten.