For author George Sisneros, his kids leaving the nest was something he “never thought about as a missionary.”
Sisneros’s new book, “Do You Love Me?: Giving Up the American Dream to Serve the Underprivileged,” describes him selling his house and most of his belongings and moving his family to Guatemala to become Christian missionaries.
The majority of the book’s 50 chapters involve anecdotes of his family’s trials and tribulations in their work as missionaries. They helped local Guatemalans improve their lives, and such work deepened his own personal faith.
One of the chapters in the book that struck home for me featured the kidnapping of Sisnero’s son’s best friend. Luckily, the kidnappers returned him alive after the family paid a smaller portion of the ransom. This triggered a memory of the kidnapping of a very close friend of my family’s. Those kidnappers also later released him after his family paid a ransom.
Born in Guatemala, after two years I spent my formative years in Costa Rica, the United States, Panama, Morocco and Egypt due to my father’s job. We spent the majority of our Christmas holidays in Guatemala. While the Guatemalan portion of my family was upper-middle-class, you couldn’t hide from the poverty in that country.
Sisneros’s book does an excellent job of describing the grinding poverty endemic to the part of the country where he and his family lived. This includes the reasons for why so many from Central America choose to pay “coyotes” to help them get into the United States.
TCKs and MKs
My favorite chapter of the book comes near the end, where he talks about his children being Third Culture Kids (TCKs).
Not only were his children TCKs for having been raised a good portion of their lives in Guatemala, “but they were also MK’s, or missionary kids. Both have their own unique burdens.”
Sisneros fully admits that his idea of “home” is vastly different from his children’s.
That house [in the United States] we moved out of nine years ago is a distant memory for all of us, but especially for them. If it weren’t for photos, they might not remember it.George Sisneros
He also recognizes his kids might deeply miss their Guatemalan “home” when they go back “home” to their passport country.
They might be desperate for friendship in a now foreign country where they don’t have roots.George Sisneros
Sisneros observes that his kids “might hold resentment or anger or sadness, or all three… for a past they didn’t get.”
Additionally, he wishes he and his wife could have prepared their kids better for their return to the United States.
I wish we could have prepared them better. I wish we could have flown them home to visit family more often. To practice flying maybe. We just didn’t know. The nest was higher than we thought.George Sisneros
“Do You Love Me?: Giving Up the American Dream to Serve the Underprivileged” is a great book, particularly for missionaries — past, present or future. It has great descriptions of what such a life entails. It’s available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook formats.
Follow George Sisneros on Twitter at @OneGSisneros.