Confessions of a missionary wife: traditions, why??

by mendibpng

Last year we celebrated a Passover Seder for the first time, thinking we would want to make it a family tradition in years to come. However, Easter just happened to fall after three weeks of meetings and our Branch conference and also on the weekend before our family planned to leave for a short vacation before heading to our village in Arop for a translation workshop.

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The elements required for a seder: parsley, salt water, bitter herbs, boiled eggs and lettuce.

I thought and thought about it, and something drove me to do a Seder, even with the other stresses lingering. Last year, it was all new to me but I had kept all the recipes and lists I needed to pull it off. I decided this year to make things as simple as possible.  But the ‘day of’ our anticipated Seder rolled around and I wasn’t feeling great. Ben asked me if I really wanted to do this thing and as soon as I hit the kitchen I knew I did. It felt like some inner force compelling me to go ahead. I’m so glad I did…here are some pictures from that night.

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Luke looks on while Jenny Beth dips parsley into salt water signifying the Israelites’ tears and bitterness upon their slavery in Egypt.
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“Pass the Matzah bread, Noah!”

Our festivities weren’t over, though! Sunday morning we all traipsed down the hill for a Easter sunrise service and potluck breakfast.
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One of the fun Ukarumpa traditions on Easter is for everyone to come with a flower to decorate the cross during a short worship service.

When we got back from the sunrise service, I worked on our lunch of ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted broccoli and hot cross buns.

Ever since the Seder, I’ve been asking myself why do I make such a big deal about holidays? I have to admit that I do not stay up all night cooking the day before, nor do I require people to dress in their best clothes—we’re talking more of casual traditions…I do what I can and what I want to do in the moment.

For my important disclaimer: I am NOT a homemaking goddess. I dearly wish I was less of a messie and more of a perfectionist in all things. And yet, I would very much prefer to throw something together without a recipe, unless I was making it for the first time. It doesn’t always come out the way it’s supposed to!  Even of they aren’t perfect, the things I can manage to throw together at the last minute mean something to me.

Since I love making lists, here are the reasons I came up with, starting from the most important:

  1. The deeper parts of me, being a ‘homeless Third Culture Kid’ is a big part of why traditions are important to me. Creating memories with my family gives me a sense of belonging and satisfaction and I hope it serves that purpose for my TCK kids and husband (he misses home too!). I think it effectively acts like a balm to the grief of separation from loved ones.
  2. Traditions make our family more cohesive. We’ve all got a comfortable feeling of “this is what we do.” We’re a unit.
  3. I do traditions because I enjoy it. I remember someone give me good advice: “keep on doing things that you enjoy even when you are overseas—this will help you be there longer.”
  4. Traditions make me feel closer to those we are separated from. Some day, we will be back in the U.S. celebrating Christmas with both sets of grandparents after a separation of four years.
  5. Celebrating traditions expresses to those around our table that they are worth the effort of whatever we have done to celebrate the occasion. I suppose food is always a big part of these things, and food must be one of my love languages to others.
  6. It’s a chance for all of us to do something together. Often someone’s helping me in the kitchen to stir the gravy or Ellie’s out picking a beautiful bouquet for the table. The twins, now three, especially feel like Big Kids when given a job to do.
  7. We often have the chance to celebrate with friends, who essentially have become our family whilst living overseas. I love making memories with friends!
  8. Traditions give us a chance to stop and think about the significant event that we are celebrating (someone’s birthday, Jesus’ birth, how much we love each other…in this case, how the Israelites escaped Egypt and how their story relates to Jesus’ death and resurrection….)
  9. Ben gets into the festivities just as much as I do and so it’s something fun we enjoy doing together.
  10. Doing ‘tradition’ with littlies is really fun for all of us big people. The joy that crosses their face at a chocolate Easter egg, for instance, cannot be matched anywhere.
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5 Comments to “Confessions of a missionary wife: traditions, why??”

  1. Love your writing Mandy ! Thanks.

  2. from Mom/OmaAnne-Hi honey. I am so proud of you and Ben in making the effort to celebrate traditions and make memories as a family. I had not known about the fresh flower Easter Resurrection Cross you all do at Uka. That’s gorgeous! What a beautiful way to say with all God’s creation that the cross is empty of death and Jesus is alive forevermore.
    Your children are blessed to have you and Ben as parents. They’re being given the first hand witness of passion worked out for God. Your passion, worked through sacrifice and endurance , are a great heritage for your precious children.
    May The God of all comfort and REST be fully your portion today! Love, Mom

  3. We have had a couple of seder services at church and I’ve really enjoyed them.

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