As mentioned in the first edition, family vacations are great times of rest, bonding, new experiences and adventures. But sometimes, those adventures don’t seem so great at the time. Nevertheless, they often grow on our hearts with the passage of time and can become a great source of reminiscing, sometimes learning, and laughter in future family gatherings.

Take yet another family trip to the Kenyan coast (the kids always loved going to the beach for family vacations…Chip & I preferred the mountains). This particular trip to the coast, our eldest was in his teens and our second son, approaching adolescence. These two were best buddies and got along famously. They often worked out weird little agreements, which Chip & I had difficulty understanding…such as why on earth Josh had Sam pack his clothes for him for this family vacation! They must have had some deal going on such as “you pack for me, and I’ll ….. for you”. Who knows? We don’t, to this day. It seems my parents must have been visiting with us at the time because for sure, I remember my father being with us. I remember this because…shortly after arriving at the hotel, the kids, as was their custom at arriving at the coast, begged to be allowed to go swimming…right now! So, we gave the requisite parental approval. The boys had their own room next door and soon an outraged Joshua came storming to our room, the perfect picture of teenaged angst. Sam had ‘forgotten’ to pack Joshua’s swimming trunks! Now, I hope you all realize just how great a tragedy this is to an adolescent, especially to one who lives in a cool, mountainous area where there are very few pools for swimming, not to mention precious few times in the year when it is hot enough to actually go swimming! Chip and I were busy trying to figure out why on earth Josh had Sam packing for him, but Josh would have none of that. He was only interested in what on earth he was to do! The others had gone to the pool and here he was stuck with no swimsuit. Tragedy indeed! My father helpfully offered his own swimsuit but Josh took one look at Dad’s speedo-styled trunks and with ashen face whispered to us he could never borrow grandpa’s swim suit (you see, the style at that time for young guys were these baggy, nearly knee-length trunks…a speedo just would never do!). Hygienics nor anything else had anything to do with it…it was all about style! At last, we managed to scrounge together some funds and Josh went quickly down to the gift shop and bought a pair of trunks at roughly double the normal cost. Crisis over. Now we could relax and enjoy perfect family harmony. To this day, Chip and I wonder why on earth Sam was packing for Josh and whether Sam had truly forgotten to pack Josh’s trunks or was playing some sort of twisted practical joke on his brother. That may always be a mystery to us parents…but they may know.

This memory puts me in mind of an interesting portion of scripture in Galatians chapter 6, where on the one hand it says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” but then just a few verses further down the same chapter says, “each one should carry their own load”. What was being said here? Do we help each other or not? I did some reading on the meanings of the 2 words ‘burden” and ‘load’ and discovered that in the original Greek, the meaning of the word burden carried the sense of a crushingly heavy weight…something that could destroy the bearer. The meaning of the word load carried the sense of a backpack, something even a good sized child could carry relatively well. Aha! So, what we are asked to do is to help folks out who are trying to carry overwhelming loads, something that could crush them, spiritually, emotionally, relationally, maybe even physically. But let’s not take other peoples’ responsibilities for them, as long as they are able to handle it themselves. Don’t agree to pack someone else’s suitcase for them if they are fully capable to do so. It is not an overwhelming burden. They should carry their own load. Besides…you may forget to pack their swimsuit!

We didn’t only go to the beach for family vacations, but then, it looks like I’ve run out of space again. Are you up for Family Fun Vacations III, to hear about our mountain adventures? Stay tuned…

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