The beginning is where all of us start. Whether we were born into a rich family or experienced a childhood of poverty, every story is slightly different. Mine is that much more strange.
I was born into a middle class family in Mason Michigan. Growing up I was homeschooled out in a big house in the country. The closest thing I had to classmates were a close group of friends who participated in sports, games, and making movies with us.
I was the oldest. Someone had to be right? I was very close to my brother growing up. We would play in the yard, fight with toy lightsabers, and build forts together. It was a blast. For a homeschool family we had a lot of good friends.
Sometimes when people think of homeschoolers they think of people who sit at home all day, reading, staying in their PJ’s all day, and never really socializing. That wasn’t us. We did sometimes stay in our PJ’s for a lot of the day, but besides that none of those stereo types quite fit our description.
We went to Church each week which is where about half of our friends came from – close friends. We made some great bonds with a few families who would come over regularly. In fact you could say that we were so close to some of those families we were distant relatives.
Each Thursday we would see the Barnes family. They’d come over, we’d play all day, and the mothers would talk and take care of the little ones. As kids we loved it.
As time passed and we entered into our younger teens and high school was just starting. We participated in what’s known as co-ops. On a particular day of the week homeschool families get together at a big building (usually a church) and take classes together that are taught by homeschool moms and a few dads.
We’d go home, do our work at home, and then come back a week later to talk about it or present on it. So in some ways it was a hybrid school between public and homeschool.
We made some great friends here as well. We met every Thursday so instead of seeing Barnes at our houses, we did co-ops with them.
Highschool continued. We made more friends, learned some good stuff. And then a couple years ago, while I was in my junior year, my family started talking about going to Africa.
At first they just prayed about it and talked about it. Then they began talking to other families about it. They really felt God was leading them to go overseas and do mission work – particularly orphan care. When I would hear them talk I’d always think that it was just talk. We’d never really move to Africa would we?
Then the news came. My parents announced they would be heading overseas to Africa to visit. I was 17 but very responsible. My parents put me in charge and had our Grandma watch us as well. They left us in very good hands, making sure we had a meal plan for every day and new where everyone would be going.
It was only like a week and a half. So they left in November of 2016. That was the first trip. They took another one – I believe in early 2017. Over this period of time I was beginning to take classes at a local community college: LCC (Lansing Community College).
Duel-enrolling, I would take half my classes at LCC and half at co-ops. During this time I also got my first job at Cracker Barrel. About halfway through 2017 I looked up and suddenly there was talk of them moving to Africa with the whole family. Now it was getting real. They began making plans for the whole family (minus me) to move over there.
I kept working and that fall was enrolled in four classes. At this point they planned on heading over to Africa with the whole family in November. They had to go to a missionary training thing in Colorado Springs, CO.. That was the first time I had ever been away from my family for a full month. It felt very strange living at my Grandma’s house but I was just starting to get used it it when took a brief trip to Colorado to visit them. I was there like one week.
I came back and kept working. I was working 40 hours a week with full-time classes – so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the changes going on. Then they came back from Colorado and we all prepared for the next part of the journey…