Thursday, October 19, 2006

Children are a heritage of the Lord,,
children a reward from him (Psalms 127:3).

My husband and I raised four Third Culture Kids (TCKs); that is, we raised our children in a country other than their passport country. We lived almost 15 years in The Netherlands. We sent our children to Dutch schools. We always spoke Dutch outside our home and at home, unless we had Dutch guests, we spoke English. Even though we parents spoke English, our children answered us in Dutch. They spoke English only when we had English speaking company who could not speak Dutch. At those times our children would acquiesce and speak English. They actually spoke English quite well. One of our children could speak with an American as well as with a British accent – whatever the occasion called for.

So many people worried about our children because they were not getting an American education. Our friends worried that our children wouldn't be able to read English. I ordered a number of American children's books out of a catalogue. When the kids were around, I would open up a book, read silently for about 5 minutes, laugh or smile about something I read, lay the book on a chair and leave the room or I would begin reading a story out loud and would have to suddenly do something else and leave the book at its most exciting point. Curiosity won out! All my children learned to read English on their own quite well. We also heard many stories about how our children would grow up not knowing how to spell. Well, for years, their spelling was atrocious. They spelled English words according to Dutch grammar rules. But one day, spelling words in English clicked in and all the dooms-day stories didn’t pan out. I've since decided that learning how to spell is a gift.

Upon our return to the states we discovered that our children were academically about two or three years ahead of their peers. My children can read and speak in three and four languages (English, Dutch, German and French). When our oldest daughter left us to return to the states for her senior year of high school, the school only offered one foreign language course. I called her on the phone and asked her why she had not enrolled in that class. It turned out that she was not allowed to take the class as my daughter spoke and read better German than the teacher. In her fourth year of high school, she had read 14 novels in German and the same number of books in Dutch, English and French. (By the way, high school begins about the time American kids enter 7th grade. Our daughter attended a five year high school. High schools in Holland are 4 year, 5 year and 6 years in length. Children who attend the 6 year high schools have an opportunity, if they make the cut, to attend university.)

There are a lot of advantages of growing up overseas. Ruth Hill Useem, Ph.D. and Ann Baker Cottrell, Ph.D. found that “Only 21 percent of the American population (24 percent of men and 18 percent of women) have graduated from a four-year college. In sharp contrast, 81 percent of the adult TCKs have earned at least a bachelor's degree (87 percent of the men, 76 percent of the women). Half of this number has gone on to earn master's degrees and doctorates.

Some other positive things about being reared in a country other than your passport are:

 Adult TCKs (ATCKs) continue their international involvement.
 ATCKs are adaptable and relate easily to a diversity of people.
 ATCKs are helpers and problem solvers.
 ATCKs feel different but not isolated.
 ATCKs often exhibit creativity and risk-taking behavior.
 Over 75% actively participate in their local community.
 92% have at least yearly contact with people from other countries.

These statistics fit my kids, as well. Living overseas may have its disadvantages. Most TCKs believe there are more advantages than disadvantages. I concur!

Love's prayers,


Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
but how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Eccl. 4:9).

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it! Today is a special day to remember because it is the anniversary of the day I married Thomas N. Schulz in Middlebrook Parlor at York College. I met my husband, Tom, at Monday night meetings at Abilene Christian College in April. I still remember his sermon: “going to the mission field two by two.” We married six months later at York College on October 19th. I never saw Tom in a tie until I walked down the aisle that night. Until that night I never saw him wear anything other than jeans, white T shirt and loafers. He looked pretty good in that T shirt, too. We never went to a movie until after we married. We did play miniature golf sometimes on Wednesday nights after church. He always won, except when he would let me win!

After Tom completed his master’s degree at ACC and we had spent a year with our sending-church in Phoenix, we went to the Netherlands and worked with a Dutch church for almost 15 years. Tom learned to wear a tie. When we went to Holland even “ditch diggers” wore ties with their work clothes!

We went to Holland with three small children and three years later adopted our Rachel. Except for the youngest, when we returned to the states our children were nearly all adults. They are the parents of my wonderful grandchildren. When we left the Netherlands, we went back to York College, where Tom occasionally wore a tie. He discovered clip-on ties and they often wound up clipped to his pocket.

What I remember today is a husband who can never be replaced in any way! The first thing I noticed about Tom the evening we met was his bible. It was worn…there were verses underlined…he had spent a lot of time reading and digesting the Word and he had only been a Christian three years. He wore out a lot of bibles in his life-time. How he loved the Word! When I got anxious or stressed, I would put my head in his lap and he would pick up his bible and would read out loud one chapter after another until I relaxed. Sometimes he or I would notice something we hadn’t noticed before and study for hours…looking up words in a lexicon or looking up things in a bible dictionary. I miss those times a lot.

The word to describe Tom would be the word, grace. He wrote his master’s thesis on that word. The root word for charis (grace) in classical Greek is beauty. Over time, the word began to describe the attributes of the King, later it described the King’s gifts, and still later, charis described the attitude of the one who received the gift – one of thankfulness. Tommy was a gracious man. He was a grateful person. He was also a romantic. He gave me flowers on every special occasion and he loved to hide them in places I wouldn’t go, so he could place them on the breakfast table before I got up. Surprise! He often sent me sweet notes. He made me feel like I was the most important person in his life. He was my best encourager. Tom took on all the attributes of grace in his personal life. I miss him, especially on days like today. I even miss his “grin and bear it” humor – the puns and the constant word plays.

Today is not a sad day. It is a day to thank God for the blessings of a good marriage and experiencing life with a godly man for 43 years. What does a person know when she is 18 years old? Not much! I knew I wanted to be a missionary, with or without a husband, but I prayed if God blessed me with a husband that he would help me get to heaven. God answered that prayer and more. He gave me a husband who often gave me a bit of heaven on earth.

George Eliot said it best:

-"What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel they are joined for life? To strengthen each other in all labor, to rest in each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.

Monday, October 02, 2006

“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’
For it is not wise to ask such a question” (Eccl. 7:10).

At the Let’s Start Talking Banquet where we celebrated their 25th anniversary (it was a fabulous evening), nostalgia hit me! I knew Mark & Sherrylee way back then. I interviewed them as part of my doctoral work. Tom and I trained a Let’s Start Talking group and went with them to Groningen, The Netherlands, in the late ‘80s. If it were not for LST, there would be no church in Eindhoven in The Netherlands today. What a great work this has been. The best part of the evening – and it was all good – was seeing the Woodward children rise up and call their parents “blessed.” To all LST people: “may the next 25 years be as blessed as the first 25.”

Nostalgia! I saw lots of people I have known over the years at the banquet. It was there that I heard it again. I have a new name. It is “Miss” Dottie. When I first moved back to Texas, parents called me "Miss Dottie" to their children, but lately I’ve noticed many adults are calling me "Miss Dottie," too. I remember the first time students called me “Ma’am.” I was teaching a summer missions course for women at ACU in 1985. I interpreted ‘ma’am’ to mean ‘these students think I’m old.’ Does Miss Dottie have the same connotation?

The Dutch have their children call their close adult friends, ‘oom’ and ‘tante’ or uncle and aunt. All the children of all the expatriate evangelists and all the children of church members called me ‘Tante Dottie’. And I didn’t mind this at all until last year when one of them, with now graying hair, came up to me and gave me a hug and called me “Tante Dottie.” Wow!

Yesterday I attended a morning class at Richland Hills for the first time and two women came and sat next to me with their husbands. I was flanked on both sides by former York College students. They didn’t know each other so I was able to introduce them to each other and listen to them talk about their time at YC. Both had taken my husband for Bible and both thought he was a hard teacher, but both loved him. It was a neat experience for me, getting to eavesdrop as they talked about their college days. Then last night I went to my regular Bible class and it happened to me again - one of our visitors was a former YC student, who also had not only taken my husband’s Bible class, but had taken one of my classes, as well. Nostalgia, again!

Yesterday afternoon, I got out the YC annuals and looked up the students from the morning class and then last night, I found the photograph of our visitor. I also re-discovered that the 81-82 annual had been dedicated to Tom and me. Do you know how many years ago that was? That was a big year for me. I had graduated with my Master’s in December and in January of 82 I began a part-time private counseling practice in addition to teaching part-time. In the fall of 1982 our son, Paul, got killed.

While thumbing through old annuals, I also found a photograph of Diana Knight, who died in the Ukraine early last Friday morning. She was a beautiful young woman. It has made me sad thinking about Diana – so young – she had just turned 51 on Tuesday before she died on Friday during surgery. These kind of things are un-understandable! I not only found Diana’s picture, but also the pictures of her husband’s brother and his wife. They had been Master’s Apprentice students, serving many years in foreign countries. We never know what the day may bring. That’s why I always try to make it a point to say ‘good-bye’ and leave people hopefully feeling affirmed. Life is incredibly short. It would be lovely if you would send a note to Dennis and his children, even if you don’t know him or know him well. Unless you have lost someone dear, you might not understand how important just a short note is at times like these. Diana’s husband, Dennis, and their children, Jedidiah and Rachel, who attend Harding University, can be reached at:
Zaporozshkoye Hwy. 4/291
49107 Dnepropetovsk

So, this weekend was filled with memories. I rejoiced with LST as they celebrated 25 years of service, I met former students, who are now friends, and thought about life’s ups and downs, and thanked God for my blessings. Life is truly a paradox. Even though life may have a lot of downs in it, I can truly say that I feel wonderfully blessed. I have decided that “Miss Dottie” is really a lovely name and one that fits me perfectly. And ‘ma’am’ is just a southern way to show respect.

Remember to pray for our missionaries – especially Dennis. Don’t forget to continue to pray for Joyce Hardin, who lost her Dan just a couple of months ago and for Richard Chowning, who lost his Cindy about the same time. We know where Dan, Cindy and Diana are and that makes all the difference! The countries of Korea, Benin and Ukraine and the United States are better for having known these faithful servants!

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them” (Revelation 14; 13).

God bless you all!

Love’s prayers…Dottie