Recently, while perusing pictures from our early years on the mission field, I was struck by how frumpy I chose to look.
I really didn’t know all that much about being a missionary, but by the looks of the photos, I had decisively chosen to “look the part”. I think I owned only denim. And everything was large and oversized. Functional, yes. But not so very attractive.
There came a day- a glorious moment, really-when the Lord in His merciful love, revealed to me that missionaries can be stylish. Hip.
Susan delivered this message. With exuberance. With grace. And with a Texas accent. Glory be! A language I understood.
I was staying with her family in a small town in Kenya, and she asked me to ride to the grocery store with her. On the way, she zipped into “one of my favorite stores, Girl!” and bought us matching pairs of hoop, beaded earrings. They weren’t frumpy. They weren’t functional. They were girly. Dangly. And revolutionary. I put them on and she told me they looked “Great!” Then she talked me into cutting all my hair off.
I was caught up in all the dangly, beaded excitement.
For the few days I spent with Susan, I perused magazines, heard her thoughts on fashion and realized, there was more to this missionary life than I first expected.
There was fun loving, exuberant life! Susan introduced that to me. Oh how I needed it.
I was reminded of this moment several weeks ago as we hosted Ty in our home. Ty was five years old during my initial visit in the Hayes home. We played blocks together. And Jeff and I were blessed to babysit Ty and his brothers while Kirk and Susan went away for a night. We played on the trampoline, watched movies and I watched the boys wrestle my husband. Good times.
Through those early years on the field, as Jeff and I adjusted to marriage and life in East Africa, Ty’s parents mentored and encouraged us to press on and thrive.
Not to mention, cut off all our hair and wear dangly ear bobs.
(And eat Ethiopian food without crying.)
For me personally, Susan's joy in people and life in the Lord was always a much needed reprieve. In her I found a sister/friend. A sister who had great style. Praise the Lord, He provides! [My flesh and blood sister also has great style, but she was miles away during these frumpy days...and I needed help!]
Our time this February with grown-up Ty was such a gift. Watching him with our boys, reliving Kenya days over coffee and hearing his faith through his prayers and sharing, encouraged our hearts in a much needed way.
So much of our home and family life has been shaped and inspired by Godly families like the Hayes.
Thanks for being with us, Ty. You are always welcome here!