I don’t know we’re different, either

My last post talked about our kids, and how they don’t know we’re different than other families. I had a situation a short while ago which made me realize just how different we are.

I was in San Francisco at a customer event, and went down to the local British pub for dinner. The place was very crowded, but I found a small table — one of those which is about 2 feet in diameter, with high stools to sit on and not much room to eat.

I had just placed my order and was settling in to read my book when a woman came up and said, “You look like a nice man. Could my friends and I share your table?” And before I knew it, four women had gathered around this little table and settled in for the evening.

It turns out they were Teamsters, here for a convention of women Teamsters. Not only did I not know there were women Teamsters, I didn’t know they had conventions! These ladies were employees of the union, not just members, and so they had a lot to say about the organization. But when they started asking me about my life is where I noticed how different that life is.

They asked me where I met my wife. I told them it was on a trip to Guatemala, where we were going to build houses for widows who lost their husbands in the civil wars of the 80s. They asked how many children I have, and were of course shocked when I told them I had eight. But unlike other conversations, where people are shocked and almost offended…these ladies were amazed and almost had a sense of wonder.

They asked if my wife worked. I said she homeschools the kids (more amazement) and also works for a non-profit organization which supports an orphanage in India. That bit of news almost sent them over the edge with awe.

What finally did it for them was when I said one of my kids is going over there to teach English for a few months. I felt kind of awkward as we sat around this little table…four garrulous ladies out for a good time, made speechless (yes, really) by me just telling the stuff my life is made of.

It just seems so normal to me. Why wouldn’t we say Yes when our daughter wants to serve these orphans? Why wouldn’t we serve them ourselves? Why wouldn’t we have lots of kids, and teach them at home so we can spend more time with them? And what better place to meet my future wife than in the act of serving?

But it’s so crazy different, and I had no idea. In fact, if I did know the effect my story would have had on them, I’m sure I wouldn’t have told it. I just didn’t know that it was so different, or that they would react in the way they did.

But it is different. God has done something to our family, something that makes us, well, different. I had no idea.

I started to understand, though, when one of the women around the table — the one who first approached me — began to look sad. She was reflecting on her own life, and said she doesn’t do any of these things. I shared with her that we don’t have to do everything, but we can do something. I said, “You don’t have to go to India, but you probably should support a child there.”

We each have a little corner of the world which God gives us to manage. We don’t have to solve all the world’s problems, but we do need to take care of our corner. Mine happens to have some orphans in it. What’s in your corner?