I have had hundreds of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents in my life. It isn’t as strange as it sounds. Being away from biological family had to have been one of the more difficult aspects of living overseas. The distance was compounded by the fact that technology was seriously lacking. I’m sure there are still glitches in communication between continents, but technology has come a very long way.
Available then: snail mail, telegram, the extremely occasional phone call. Now: Email, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, instant message, texting, and relatively easy phone calls. It’s still a third world country, so it’s all unpredictable, but it is available for the most part.
We lived in Kenya for four years at a time and then came to the States on furlough for one year. Sometimes relatives would come and visit us in Kenya, but it was rare. I was lucky enough to have my grandparents live in Nairobi for a couple years early in my childhood. My cousins also lived in Kenya for a while. But this post is not about my biological family. This one is about my mission family.
My mom was really hospitable and we had dinner guests quite often. These are still some of their very best friends.
The other missionaries served as our family while we were there. I called all of them Aunt and Uncle or Grandma and Grandpa. They were never replacements for the actual relatives, but they were definitely family members.
We shared holidays, meals, and family events. They were there to cheer me on through milestones, triumphs, and challenges. They loved me, chastised me, comforted me, and helped to raise me. They are the ones who have the funny stories about silly things I said or did when we were together. I have an enormous family and I’m ever so grateful.