It Takes a Village
“It takes a village to raise a child”. This African proverb communicates the necessity of healthy community for children. Much to the relief (and possibly consternation!) of parents, it takes more than a mom or a dad to raise a child. After all, a village is not made up of perfect people. So when parents have to make the daring decision of trusting their child to someone in their absence, who will step up?
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By Harmony Niphakis
The Family I Have When I’m Far from Home
In first grade, I spent my first and only year in boarding school. Typically, single women were the ones to fill these assistant roles and serve as our Aunties, offering love and support, extreme patience, and lots of help with homework.
The memory that sticks with me from that year away from home is one of comfort. I had been running barefoot outside and soon felt the inevitable pain of a splinter. I started to cry, not just because it hurt but because in that moment, I desperately wanted my mother to make it all better.
Auntie Julie, one of our dorm assistants that year, came to my rescue. I obediently followed her to the house, panicking at the inevitable pain to come during the de-splintering operation.
Auntie Julie kindly sat me down to inspect my injury, making me comfortable with pillows and even playing music. She brought out a small bottle of minty oil and I soon felt the relief of coolness where the injury had initially drawn so much heat. Before I knew it, the splinter was out and Auntie Julie was giving me the all-clear to return to my play. What was this magic?!
After that, I was sure to tell my mom about the special minty oil Auntie Julie had used to make the splinter not hurt anymore.
That moment was more than just the removal of a splinter. It was an essential experience in that year away from my parents. It showed me I was not alone and I was safe and cared for. Though no one could replace the loving care of my mother, I saw there were adults in my life who would go through extravagant lengths to make sure that even the removal of a splinter would be done with love and gentleness.
Today, Auntie Julie is married with 2 children. By some miracle, Auntie Julie and I found each other on Facebook and I was able to chat with her for the first time in 22 years.
There have been many single women over the past few decades that have filled the essential roles of dorm assistants in boarding homes for missionary kids. It was the incredible kindness and patience of my own dorm aunties that inspired me to serve as a dorm assistant after I graduated from college.
Becoming the Village
A village is composed of people from all stages of life. There are married couples with children as well as childless couples. There are widows and those who are unmarried. Young and old. Everyone can play a part in this village. Let’s consider how we can play our parts well. Read I Corinthians 12:12-31 to learn more about the different roles we have as the body of Christ. Friends, we have value in the kingdom of God, and that is not dependent on our relationship status.
This is the second in a series on being single in missions. You can read the first blog here: All the Single Ladies: Empowering a Younger Generation
Harmony Niphakis spent her early years as an OMF Missionary Kid in Thailand. She committed her life to God at a young age and now serves as a TCK Advocate with OMF (U.S.) where she finds great joy in equipping and caring for missionary kids of all ages. In her spare time, Harmony enjoys being out in nature, gardening, going out for coffee, and spending time with her family.