I am a missionary kid.
My parents are missionaries. They have served in Bolivia, South America and now, they are here in the states, teaching and training others who are going into cross cultural ministry. They are passionate about increasing the Kingdom of God-especially in parts of the globe where, unless someone goes with the Good News, those living there will never be able to hear it, accept it and have the joy of knowing Jesus.
I was 9 years old when our family arrived in Bolivia, and a few months later, my adventure at Tambo began. (Tambo was the New Tribes boarding school in Bolivia)
Recently, it was announced that Tambo was being investigated for abuse. There are many different kinds of abuse that have occurred over the years in different boarding schools and organizations-it sounds like these are the things being looked into at our school.
My heart is heavy. My mind is confused. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that people that I looked up to and respected as authority figures were capable of such horrible choices. That said, I thank God for the many adults who lived out God’s truth, His love, and ministered to us children from the heart.
But sadly, my mind and heart are haunted more by the adults who made the wrong choices. To look back now, and understand that some of those lives were just lies being lived out-it makes my mind whirl and my heart ache. To know that pride drove the way that decisions were made rather than following God’s heart-tears are balling up in my throat. It has shed light on a belief system that was developed in my childhood…adults are always right. Authority is always right.
(I am laughing right now, because I know better. For Pete’s sake, even my children know better! They know that this woman is an imperfect woman who doesn’t always have the right answer, or make the right choice. They graciously forgive me time after time.)
But although I know better in my head, my heart still whispers that line of thinking to me. In the times when I feel threatened and nervous, I have to shake my head and say “nope. The only One I listen to is the One that counts.” And my husband, of course! But usually, they are telling me the same thing!
There were a lot of things I loved about Tambo. In fact, up until recently, I would have said I loved everything about growing up there. But then I started to realize that maybe some of the things that I thought were “normal”-maybe they weren’t so much. And then, I learn that there are people who have been abused, and people who are struggling, after so many years, to heal from their experience at Tambo.
I realized about a month ago that I have very few memories of my first two years there. I remember that I was assigned to the “Genny Dorm”, but I actually don’t have any memories of actually being in that dorm. Once in a while, I have a vague recollection of something, but the harder I try to remember the faster it fades away. Honestly, it scares me-I’m wondering if I am blocking memories…I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know.
I have a couple of sad memories of things that I wish hadn’t happened to me. But I also, and probably more so, remember the things that I did that were hurtful. I know that I foolishly embarrassed a classmate when I was in (maybe 6th grade?) . I feel HORRID about that now. I don’t even remember if I got a spanking for that-though let me tell you, I should have! But I have a memory with that same classmate…one night she said she accepted Christ as her Saviour, and I remember we were swinging on the swings singing with our whole hearts…”There’s a new name written down in glory, and it’s mine, oh yes, it’s mine…!” (a little ironic that I was rejoicing with her and yet it wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I actually made the decision to accept Him as Lord of my Life!)
But to be honest, I don’t want to remember that there were good times. Because I don’t know which of those times were truly good. How many times was there laughter on the outside, but crying on the inside? What if a memory that I think is great is actually a memory that brings sharp pain to a friend’s soul?
I’m sure in time the pendulum will swing back slowly and there will be balance, but all I really think about now is the pain that classmates and friends have suffered. The pain that they were suffering while we were living life together. What if someone tried to say something, or reach out, or ask for help, and I did not notice. Or worse, I did not respond?
It is a tangled web of emotions and thoughts that have invaded my life in the past few months. I am thankful for my husband, who is willing to just sit and listen. Or, when I need it, to pray with me. I am thankful that I have a family that loves each other. My parents and siblings have been able to be honest, open and supportive as we talk about what Tambo meant to each of us.
These are horrible, painful things that people have to deal with. My favorite verse and song while I was a at Tambo was “He makes all things beautiful in His time.” It seems hard to imagine in light of all the pain that is still being suffered. I don’t take this promise lightly, and I imagine that when in a place of pain, it might even seem impossible. But I want to believe it, I choose to believe it.
That not only can He, but He will…in time, make all things, even the really hard things, beautiful.
because honestly, at times,
it just seems so hard to imagine
that anything that painful
could become anything near beautiful.