It has become natural for my kids to serve. Wherever we are, they seek ways to help other people. When we go somewhere, they don’t ask “What do I have to do?” but they ask, “What can we do?” I don’t have to ask them to serve. It is embedded in them. “
We first met Cari and her oldest son on a mission trip in Mexico in 2015. We soon found out that Cari and her three kids serve together locally ALL the time. We were impressed with the way she has integrated service into her family’s daily life (and for more ways your family can get started serving together, here are 10 quick ideas). We met with Cari to ask some questions.
1. Tell us a little about your family.
I am a single mom of three kids, ages 10, 9, and 4. I work full-time and I parent full-time. I am also a foster parent. All three of my kids were adopted from foster care.
2. Tell us about some of the ways your family serves locally… how are your kids involved? What is their reaction?
I coordinate all the missions and serving projects at our church. I coordinate all of them and we are able to attend most of them.
We serve at our church all the time, helping to clean up, serve, take out trash, etc.
We often go to the homeless shelter and serve breakfast. We also help with a mobile food pantry that goes to different low-income neighborhoods. My kids love to be the ones who help people carry groceries from the food pantry back to their apartment. They also like to serve at the breakfast for the homeless, often going out to talk to the people who are there to eat.
3. How about international mission trips? How did that go?
Last year, I went on my first international mission trip to Mexico. I took my oldest son, who was 8 at the time. We loved it. It was a good experience for him. He was able to be included in everything that we did, from serving breakfast in a poor area to playing with the kids at the orphanage. It was eye-opening and great for him to see that even young kids like himself can do something meaningful.
4. A lot of parents say that they want to take their kids on mission trips, but they want to “wait until the kids are teenagers”… what do you have to say to that?
I think that you could miss a lot of opportunities for your kids to serve by waiting until they are teenagers. I am sure it would still be beneficial when they are teenagers, but I think even young kids get a lot out of serving and service trips. Younger kids are very open-minded, and if you let them start serving when they are young, you will have more mature teenagers to take on trips when they are older.
5. Another objection parents have is that mission trips can be expensive. What would you say to that?
Yes, they are expensive! But it is an investment, and you will see dividends in your kids. When do you ever regret giving to church or someone in need? Mission trips can be eye-opening to see other cultures. My son saw that people who have less material items can still live with lots of joy.
6. What fruit have you seen in your kids’ lives from serving with you?
It has become natural for my kids to serve. Wherever we are, they seek ways to help other people. When we go somewhere, they don’t ask “what do I have to do?” but they ask, “what can we do?” I don’t have to ask them to serve. It is embedded in them.
7. What advice would you give to other parents to encourage them in serving as a family?
You can serve anywhere! Start small and consider the age of your kids, but look for ways that they can be a meaningful part. Make sure you are also telling your kids why you serve, that it is glorifying to God. Anywhere you see a need, kids can be a part of it.