*Today’s letter is written by my wonderful friend Betty Gail Jones, who has impacted countless children, teenagers, and college students over the years through her work in children’s ministry, collegiate ministry, mission work, and church planting. She is a fireball and someone God has certainly used in my life.*
At a time in my life when I felt isolated and desperate, I found you though Facebook, of all places. At times there seems to be an insurmountable barrier – namely the ocean – to knowing my grandchildren who live on the other side of the world. You helped change some of that ever-present anxiety. Yes, you stepped in when I needed you. And as I get to know more about you, I find your availability to others to be significant, too.
Life gets busy no matter where one lives in the world. If I could see pictures every day of my grandchildren who live overseas, I would be happy. Yet, that is not to be, nor would it be a wise use of their parent’s time. One day, as I were publicly pleading for more pictures on social media, you piped up and commented to me offering to accept my friendship if I requested. You further explained that you often take pictures of Ajay, and sometimes Ari gets in the pictures, too. As the local Kids Kamp teacher, you have access like no other to my grandchildren. I realized that this was my opportunity for a view of their world that I had not had before, so I immediately went to your page and clicked out a request to be your “friend”.
What I found on your page was eye-opening. I loved seeing the place where socialization and learning was taking place, not only for my grandchild, but also for the other children who are living overseas. I recognized what a wonderful unique blessing your ministry is as I scrolled through the pictures and saw the wonder and joy on faces of such a diverse group of third culture kids.
Soon, your posts began showing up on my news feed. Whether they were about everyday “mommy moments”, personal reflections, prayer requests for your kids, or funny quotes by those living in your home or attending your school, I enjoyed them all. I even loved following your personal journey of the joys and challenges of your stateside visit. I learned from each one.
One Sunday morning I stepped into my church and a friend looked at me with eyes of concern and said, “What about the landslide near Kathmandu?” My heart sank into my stomach because I hadn’t heard of the tragedy and didn’t have any information. My son-in-law and a friend were trekking at that moment, and I didn’t actually know where. It was early in the morning on our side of the world and night where you live. I knew I didn’t have access to my own children who aren’t as media driven as some, but I realized that you monitored Facebook more frequently and guessed that I could message you and would get an answer quickly. Within a few minutes, I received a message back from you assuring me that everything was all right. I was so grateful for your friendship, though we’ve never met, at that moment.
Through Facebook, I have learned of your own ministry to the nationals whom you call your “kids”, watched as you care for them and love them deeply, and joined you to pray for their needs. I have grieved your losses with you as you have shared heartache, and I have rejoiced with you in victories.
At this time, I am enjoying the presence of my grandchildren for a season, but I know the impact you have had even now. Ajay talks about his home and friends that he misses. As I was listening in on a conversation between him and his cousin, Ajay told his older cousin about his school and how he misses it.
What a tremendous blessing you are to those young mothers who live in your country. I would have never dreamed that these parents would have an opportunity to send their little ones to a pre-school situation where they are learning and playing in a social setting and their moms would have some time for other important things (and even a break from the constant responsibility of raising children without extended family or trusted friends’ help).
You do all of this with an attitude of joy. You are a servant to others. This, Heather, is why I am calling you out – to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I thank God for you and your family.
See you on Facebook!
Betty Gail Jones, aka Nanna