I found these old pictures of Elayna from her very first day of Kindergarten.
Isn’t she adorable?
The sweet look on her face. The anticipation of new things. The feeling of being grown up and riding the bus with the other kids.
The excitement of finally being old enough for SCHOOL!
The years of preschool behind her… the years of bus riding and elementary school are ahead.
She was so happy and excited!
She had prepared by learning to read, learning how to write her name, learning to cut with scissors, learning to do jumping jacks and raise her hand in class.
She was ready. She was going.
I remember her talking for weeks about that bus. About climbing on, finding a seat, riding with the other kids in the neighborhood and finally, after years of waiting, getting to go to school.
And this last picture…
She is home from her first day. The bus is driving away. The first day is over. The first bus ride complete.
The look on her face is still happy. She is still smiling. But she is home from her first day.
This look though is a little different. It says, “Mom… I did it. It was hard and long and new. But I survived with a smile on my face.”
The anticipation isn’t gone… just muted with the realization of what going to school actually means.
The excitement isn’t gone… just put on hold for a bit while hesitancy sets in for the task ahead.
The preparation for that first day is over yet the job is just beginning.
The squint in her eyes speaks to some nervousness about tomorrow, a little worry if she can do this each day and maybe even a little, “Hold up… can we wait another year for this kindergarten and bus thing?”
The look on Elayna’s face, to this mom’s heart, says, “Can I go hide in my room for a bit and tell you about my adventure later?”
Her sweet personality needs to process and think and gear up for another day.
And in her new, kindergarten face… I see me.
I see our family as new missionaries.
I see this moment… not yet taking our feet from US soil…
to this moment of getting on the plane to France and language school…
to this moment, 12 months later, on the beach in Senegal.
The same look on our faces.
Still excited, yet wary.
Still ready, yet completely new.
Still anticipating amazing things, yet knowing the road is long.
Wondering “Can we do this?” while knowing we can because God says we can.
Happy to be here and thrilled to keep going.
But the newness of the first days are ending and the realities of the days to come are setting in.
That first day of school is really just the beginning of walking this missions journey.
I still walk the street, have wonderful getting-to-know-you conversations with neighbors, get really excited about what God is doing… and get home with feelings of needing to process and think and pray.
I still talk to the tailor, ask about her Easter, comment on the weather, tell her I will pray for her and get back home with a need for a cup of tea.
Jeremy comes home from a day in the village and his processing time is necessary, his rest is crucial.
This new Senegal life is long and hard and new and pretty cool… in a fully exhausting, wild, unbelievable way.
We have very so not beautiful feet as we walk this “first day” in missions.
This is taking us through the fire in big ways, awesome ways… and we are determined to stay in the process.
We love the discoveries we are making and thankful for this way to share them with all of you.
When I saw Elayna’s face in the first picture… to her face in the last, I’m so thankful for life lessons and a God who patiently walks us through each step of the process.
Just like I walked Elayna through going to sleep, getting up for another day and climbing back up on that big yellow bus, so God gently lets us process, start a new day and keep moving forward.
To another day…