Wisdom from a Kid Missionary

Great news! Q’s cardiologist visit went exceptionally well. His heart is working perfectly, and he’s as healthy as can be. We are still waiting on his visa approval. We sent the cardiologist’s report to our visa contact, but she said it is not likely that will make the approval come any faster. So… we’re praying and waiting and thanking God that we have a healthy boy.

One of the things we’re putting a lot of time and energy into these days is helping Q transition. Moving from New Mexico to New Zealand is a big transition for us as adults, not to mention a 3-year-old. When Daddy is in town and we’re all together, the transition seems to feel a bit easier for him. This week, we’re enjoying some better sleep and a little guy who is more at ease.

One of the very first things we did when we began praying about the call to New Zealand was seek advice from people with wisdom and experience that we don’t yet have. We talked to friends who have lived (and currently live) abroad with small children. We gleaned from wise sages around us who understand child development and major life transitions. We quizzed people who were raised in other countries themselves– people who have been there and done that. We’re still asking questions!

Justin and Cara Shonamon
Justin and Cara Shonamon

My friend Cara Shonamon is one of those people. She is rich with wisdom that comes from first-hand experience. Cara and her sister, along with their parents, moved to Russia to serve as missionaries when the girls were 2 and 4 years old. Cara and her family served for her entire childhood and most of her teenage years. Today, Cara is wife to Justin and mom to Mackenzie. She serves as pastor to kids and families at Flint Central Church of the Nazarene in Flint, Michigan. Her years as a missionary have shaped her worldview, her philosophy of ministry, and the ways she and Justin parent Mackenzie.

I asked Cara what her parents did that helped both she and her sister transition between cultures, embrace their ministry roles, and live fully into God has called them to be today. These are some of Cara’s insights—tidbits of valuable experience that we are taking to heart.

Kid missionaries Cara and Christy and their parents.
Kid missionaries Cara and Christy and their parents.

– Missionary kids are called to be missionaries just as much as their parents.  My parents always told me that God called our entire family to serve on the mission field.  

– My parents taught me to serve to the extent that I was able.  I helped with VBS, work and witness teams, sang in the church praise team, worked the overhead projector, etc.  I was included in the work of the church and not segregated.  I knew I belonged and was called to serve.

– My parents taught me the role of a missionary was to work oneself out of a job.  I learned this by giving up my job as the overhead projector operator so a lady in our church with cerebral palsy had a meaningful place of service.  I found other ways to serve and remember that ministry lesson to this day.

– My parents always told me that with God all things are possible and that with God we will change the world.  They still tell me that and I believe it.

– My parents continually stressed the needs of others above our own.  Particularly on airplanes!  My Dad was notorious for making sure we did not kick or pull on the chair in front of us and we were responsible to entertain ourselves.  So, we packed our carry-ons and knew we were to keep ourselves entertained.  It was not Mom and Dad’s job to keep us quiet and entertained.  

–  My parents actually scheduled dates with us.  It was on the calendar so it was important and we wouldn’t miss it.

– We ate breakfast and dinner together as much as possible.  At breakfast we would read from the Bible, ask some silly Bible trivia, and pray.  These were formative moments in my life.

– When guests came over we helped prepare the meal and sat at the same dinner table.

Grown-up kid missionaries, Cara and Christy, with their families.
Grown-up Cara and Christy with their spouses and baby Mackenzie.

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