One of the best things my parents taught me is that bridges between cultures are not only possible to build, but meant to be built. Their marriage alone is a testament to this and has been for my entire life as I’ve watched them bridge divides between the East and West. Despite the enormous span of their differences in upbringing and culture, they shared a trait that kept them moving forward. It was a trait I would learn to cherish and emulate from their example: curiosity.
God used their curiosity to give them the optimism and audacity to imagine themselves together. You could say that I exist in part because this kind of curiousity was given room to thrive in their lives as a couple.
Later on, this same curiosity; this underlying belief that those who are different from us could offer beauty unseen and gifts unknown, nudged my parents to move overseas for work, as well as invite those different from us to share dinner with us, or travel to new places when the opportunity arose, and eventually, after moving back from overseas, to invite foreign students to live with us.
As a young girl, I quickly learned how to navigate conversations with those who spoke a different language than me and saw the world differently. It seemed normal and natural to assume that someone I met could have come from another country and that I could learn from them and know them despite that difference. Without words that I remember from my parents, I learned to see differences as valuable and beautiful and needed.
Recently, during a stretch when I was looking on Zillow for new homes and new places to live in…Matt redirected my Enneagram 4 ways and talked me off the ledge of wondering if everyone had it better off because they had better kitchens… and we started talking about what we were grateful for in the present instead, and what we dreamed of long-term for our family of five. We revisited the stories God has already written in our lives as individuals and as a couple and where it seemed he was leading us for now and later.
One thing we both agreed that we want for our kids is to learn to be curious about the world. We don’t just want them to be curious for curiosity’s sake, though there’s value to that. Instead, we long for them to be curious in the way that encourages humility and an awareness of how much they can learn and the way God has designed them to truly “taste and see that He is good” as they discover the beauty and purpose he’s made throughout the nations. Both of our experiences overseas short and long term, have shown us a bigger God and it has transformed the way we see everything.
So, we are taking our family of five to Germany this summer! We’re starting with a place that we are familiar with and that’s central to our own story as a couple. We can’t wait to see the varying ways they explore at ages 9, 6 and 3. And we can’t wait to give them a better backdrop to the stories we’ve shared with them about our time living there before they arrived. As the trip draws closer, I have moments when I panic and wonder if we are completely insane for doing this, but then again, why would we choose otherwise? The risks of not risking are too great. This is more than a vacation away, we see it as an opportunity to disciple our kids now and not only tell them a larger story, but show them. Travel comes with unique challenges and sights that impact us indefinitely. It comes with bonding that is irreplaceable.
A little disclaimer: we wouldn’t be able to do this without deciding to not do other things like more extracurricular activities (or moving into a bigger house right now, despite any desire for it). We also wouldn’t have been able to do this without a lot of planning and Matt’s financial smarts. We started planning a long time ago and if it had just been up to me, I would’ve given up. I might share more of the practical aspects later, or maybe, just maybe, convince Matt to write a post on how to plan and make something like this happen when it seems financially impossible.
We already have our next trip goal in the works and this first trip overseas together will help us as we think through our dream goal of getting to South Korea in 2-3 years. Or maybe, it will all go south and we will decide to never leave our house again…