I would like to attempt to put into words a bit about the gratitude and peace that flooded me several times over the last week.
If you read or know about 'third culture kids' [the simple definition being a child raised outside the parent's passport culture] you know that when a student moves back to the passport country for college, the emotional impact can be similar to their parents divorcing or the death of a close family member.
We intentionally worked hard to prepare Eli and our family for this time. Over the years, we talked about issues and ran through different hypothetical scenarios. But this week we started the real test!
I realize how blessed we were to be able to participate in the international student orientation. They did a great job providing events both with and without our students that showcased all the different parts of life at Calvin and how they intentionally strive to shape the college experience to provide a strenuous learning atmosphere not only aiming for academic development but also to stretch and mature the student's faith.
Watching Eli participate, intentionally stretching himself outside his comfort zone is a gift. To be able to watch first hand him laughing and talking with so many new folks knowing that they will become friends and supporters another gift.
I prayed for the families who could not travel with their students. Those who will wait for pictures so that they can visualize the campus or their child's room. I stored away memories of his dorm, his room, meeting his engineering adviser, the international students, the staff, and the campus.
Not every moment turned out sweet and fun but the vast majority fall in the positive side. No tears but a few tension-filled moments that always occur with major change and life transforming events.
We made fun family memories: watching the international students act out skits, arranging Eli's room, to Anna's face when she found out that her strange tasting burger was vegetarian.
I felt the prayers:
- finding our way around campus to get to the various activities
- driving back and forth each day from Allegan
- remaining calm while sitting in the room with other parents crying as we discussed the ups and downs of the transition;
- letting Eli take the lead on eating meals or hanging out with us;
- being able to use the grandparents' phones, so we can receive text messages
- worshiping with him in chapel
- leaving with a hug and smile when Eli thought we should go 30 minutes before the official good-bye time, so he could join a group of international students and a few other freshmen
Thankful for the amazing young man the Lord placed into our family. Thankful that we could be present for his transition this summer and the start of his college career.
Praising the Lord for this amazing opportunity. Thankful as well that we will continue to be close the next few weeks with easy communication as he starts classes.
[Pictures from the Fredric Meijer Garden sculpture garden]