We went to Wal-Mart yesterday. (I know, this story can't be going anywhere good when it starts with a line like that, stay with me.) Now understand that we live in a mostly white community, but not entirely. It's not uncommon for us to see people who have skin different than ours on any given shopping event, but there were lots of them today, and the girls noticed.
Now another point to understand is that their grandparents spent several years as missionaries in Liberia, West Africa. The girls have seen many pictures and developed relationships with some Liberian friends that are currently in the states. Well, Grandma and Grandad have been in Liberia on a mission trip for the past month. So the girls are a little obsessed with Africa.
Back to Wal-Mart. (Seriously, stay with me here.) What do preschoolers do when they notice things, well talk about it of course, and loudly. Miss A. says, "Mommy, look, they are from Africa."
Now, I'm thinking, have I not taught my children anything? When will they get the whole rude vs. not rude thing? You know, like pointing at someone and yelling about their skin color is not in the polite category? Like not all people with dark skin color live in Africa.
Thankfully we were on the way out of the store when she decided to strike up a conversation about it, and I had an exit strategy. While walking as fast as possible, I was pondering exactly what to say back.
Then I looked up, and there I saw it. The tour bus for the Watoto Children's Choir. A group from Uganda who were going to be performing at our church that evening. So, I realize, yes, Miss A, they are indeed from Africa and we are going to go see them sing tonight. She was ecstatic, and honestly I felt a little relieved that the boy she had yelled at really was from Africa and probably was not offended by it. (We still had a little talk in the van about how it is not polite to talk about the way people look and how God made us all beautiful and wouldn't it be boring if we all looked the same, etc.)
Oh the girls were smitten at the concert. Those were the cutest kids (the kids in the choir, not mine, though they are cute too). They were dancing and singing and praising Jesus just the way my husband remembers from his childhood. I could just picture him as a little boy 20 years ago dancing and singing with his African friends in much the same way. If you don't know anything about Watoto, check out their website here, it is an amazing project where God is doing amazing things in the lives of young Ugandan children. Also, I'll be posting more about Liberia and my in-laws experience and the clinic they are working on building in the near future.
So, this morning at breakfast, Miss C says, "Mommy, when I grow up I don't want to become African." I'm not sure where she got the idea that she could turn into an African, but in my mind that wasn't where the teachable moment was. It was all about the fact that God may ask us to go to Africa some day, and we need to be willing to go. So, I say, "Why do you not want to be African." She replied, "Because I don't want to live in Africa."
Puzzled, I ask "Why not?" She says, "Because it is hot." Obviously we were not getting anywhere, so I had a great idea. "Daddy used to live in Africa and he loved it." With new spark in her eyes, "He did? Why did he like it?" Then, knowing that he was still sleeping, I say, "Well, why don't you go ask him?" Ah, yes, what a way to wake up the man of the house, by sending three small girls to pounce on him with all sorts of Africa questions.
I continued fixing breakfast and had no idea what kinds of things he told them, but I could hear him telling them stories from Africa. The kinds of stories that I have heard time after time and still enjoy hearing them, because our God, He is amazing.
I thought that would put the I don't want to go to Africa thoughts at ease for awhile. I thought they might actually even start asking if they could save their money to go to Africa instead of Disney World. Well, until I hear this about an hour later...
"Run, don't let the cornflakes bite you!" I chuckle because that really is not such an odd imaginary thing in our house, but cornflakes? So, I ask, "The cornflakes are biting?" After uproarious roll-around-on-the-floor laughter, the girls tell me, "The corn snakes. Daddy told us all about the corn snakes in Africa. Run, don't let them bite you!"
Now I'm thinking maybe sending them to talk to Daddy about why God made Africa to be a great place too maybe wasn't such a good idea after all. However, Daddy claims he never said anything about corn snakes, it was Black Mambas. Which clearly, will make any girl want to go to Africa.