Ideas for Long-Distance Families, Part I

One of the most difficult aspects of life on the mission field is the separation from close family and friends back home. A lot of determination and a little creativity, however, can help. Team Honduras families have found a twelve ideas to maintain those family ties:

12. Create a “Special People Book.” When Claire was very small, I kept a photo album called her “Special People Book” in the diaper bag. As she flipped through the pages and pointed to family members I recited their names. This year, I plan to expand that idea and make Claire a “My Heroes Book,” with pictures of her parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, sending church pastor and wife, etc. Each page will include a brief testimony of how that person was saved and served God).

11. Write personal notes in front of books. Our family loves to read! Even before Claire was born, I invested in quality children’s books so that she’d have a great collection of stories. Since then, family members have contributed to her library. I always ask them to write a short note in the front of a book when they give it. Every time I read the book to Claire, I also read their note; that way she will remember who gave her the book and will connect that person to something familiar. I try to include details like “This was Papa’s favorite book when he was little, because he loved trains.” I also add notes along the way, even when the book is not new anymore: “Claire, age 2 ½: Grandma read you this book so many times you memorized it! The picture on the third page always makes you giggle.”

10. Send pictures and videos of your kids frequently. The Lord answered a fervent prayer of mine just 7 months after Claire’s birth: we finally got internet access in our home! Suddenly, we were connected in a new way and were able to send pictures (almost daily when she was very small) to grandparents. I would also include bits and pieces of our day. A short note mentioning your child’s latest milestones or funny statements is a wonderful way to make grandparents feel connected.

9. Grandparents, return the favor! Sure, you want pictures of your grandkids, but have YOU sent them any pictures or video? Papa recently made Claire's day by sending her a picture of himself shoveling snow from the sidewalk. And one of Claire’s favorite videos is a homemade one from Papa and Grandma reading to her. They sent the video in a package along with four books; I turn on the video and she follows along as Papa and Grandma read to her. Instant connection! My aunt and uncle, who have musical ability, made a video that included not only reading but also sing-along-songs; it was a favorite video for their grandchildren for many years.

8. Make a “My Day Storybook.” Moms, I know exactly how busy you are, but try this one day: keep a camera in your pocket and snap a few pictures throughout your typical routine. At the end of the day, print them out, add a few quick captions with the time, and you will have a “My Day Storybook.” Grandma will be thrilled to know exactly when your little one eats her morning snack of Cheerios, splashes happily in her bathtub, or snuggles up on the couch for a story. Once she knows your schedule, she can glance at the clock throughout the day and know what her grandbaby is doing miles away.

7. Use Skype and a webcam. Skype is an affordable program that allows you to call your family over the internet for pennies, even if they live in another country. By calling through the internet, we save money and can call more frequently. We also like leaving voice mail messages when we know Papa and Grandma aren’t in. My dad will probably never erase the one he got at work that said, “Papa, you’re my best friend! Call me!”

You can add a new dimension to your internet calls by hooking up a webcam on each end. It’s almost as if you were sitting across the table from each other! What a treat for everyone! It’s also great for special occasions; we open Christmas and birthday presents using webcams. Nothing does Grandma’s heart good like hearing squeals of delight and seeing the glee as her carefully chosen gifts are opened.

There are more ways to keep touch from miles away! Be sure to read "Ideas for Long-Distance Families, Part II"!
2 Responses
  1. jshorton Says:

    Thanks for the ideas! Our first child should arrive late July or August, and even though we are only a few hours away from Grandparents and family this will definitely come in handy. We are praying for you, your sweet family and ministry.
    ~Stephanie Horton (I came with the SFWBC group in summer 2007)

  2. Kimberly Henderson Grainger Says:

    How precious! These are good challenges to us, too, even though our families are stateside. Now you've got me thinking of new ways to stay connected!
    Love you!

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Five Year Anniversary Video

Team Honduras 2009 Year-in-Review Video

Team Honduras on Facebook

Team Honduras on Facebook