What is it like to have a son who teaches in a college on another continent? In today’s world, it’s not so far! We talk nearly every week through Skype, and e-mail makes sending notes and pictures almost instantaneous. It also has made a huge difference to visit. We saw firsthand where Jonathan lived and where he taught. We met students, fellow teachers, employers, friends and local people that he interacts with, like his door lady and his fruit vendor on the street. We visited places that helped us to learn about the culture, and we went to places that helped us understand the spiritual darkness that needs God’s light.
We normally talk on Sunday evenings—Monday morning for him. On New Year’s Eve in 1999 he reassured us that nothing bad would happen in Y2K. He knew, because he was already there! During his first year abroad he taught at a K-12 private school. Our first phone conversation was not a good connection (and I wondered what authorities might be listening in). We talked about his campus. He told us that for security at night the gates are locked and guard dogs roam the grounds. A little later, our connection was lost. I remember praying for him that night as I pictured him being interrogated under bright lights. (It is SO easy for moms to jump to the worst-case scenario!) Dads can worry, too. Jack’s concern is that he won’t seek out medical help if he gets sick. This came after hearing about Jonathan finding his roommate unconscious on the floor. At the hospital they thought it might be the result of food poisoning. The scary part was that the potential food source was still in their refrigerator when we heard about it a few days later! So, one of my “job descriptions” as a mom includes trusting God to take care of him and to lead him.
For all three of our sons the knowledge that they are trying to follow God’s leading in their lives brings us much joy. As Jonathan’s mom, I pray for him in his struggles and rejoice in his victories. Some of his concerns have become mine as I learn to love the country and people that he loves. I gladly pass on his communications to others who join in prayer (and I feel extremely grateful for these partners). And, of course, sometimes I still send off a package filled with homemade cookies.