Today is PART 1 of a two part guest blogging post by a good friend who is also a great Dad. Read about his amazing experience and look for the amazing conclusion next week.
My name is Jamie Hanson, father of 4 kids two of which are beautiful daughters (Emma 13, and Lanni
9). Ever since Emma turned 12 I knew I wanted to do something special for her 13th birthday, something that would signify her transition from girlhood to womanhood….and my part in that transition. I knew I had a work trip to Africa in July so my wife and I decided last fall that Emma would join me on the trip. (I am a Development Director for International www.younglife.org, if you were asking ‘who plans work trips to Africa?’). We left a day after she turned 13 in late June.
We started our trip by doing work crew together in Ethiopia at a Young Life camp outside of Addis Ababa. We served kids food, cleaned up afterward, helped run games, and sat in the middle of a 400 kid Young Life club. It was awesome and we were blown away. We then went to Tanzania where Emma got to see
her Dad ‘work’ and she did it right alongside me. This is where I was blown away. I saw my little girl sit at banquet tables of adults and have an opinion, I watched her shake hands and start conversations. I saw her take a big step into womanhood…it was awesome!
We then took this same group of adults and spent three days in a Massia village six hours out into the Africa bush where we have Young Life. Emma watched a goat get slaughtered in our honor, she sat in a mud hut and held babies with flies in their eyes and tears in hers. Her heart was growing before my eyes. Lastly, we did a 3 day safari to end our trip together. I had pre-planned this portion of the trip but was not prepared for how nervous I was. I had bought and planned to give Emma a promise/purity ring on this trip. It was the second to last day of our 3 week trip and the safari camp we were at sat on top of a hill that offered the most brilliant and beautiful sunset I have ever seen.
I had written some promises from me to her on the kind of Dad I ‘promised to be’. As the sun was setting I took her on a walk and we shared one of the most special moments of my life together. I read the promises and gave her the ring. Beat that future fiancée!!! (setting the bar as high as I could for her
future suitor was a secret agenda item 🙂
While the adventures we had were incredible and we will have inside jokes and stories that last a lifetime, the best part of the trip for us both will simply be spending uninterrupted time together. You may not be able to take your daughter to Africa (if you can, do it!), but why not just take her camping, or
on a hike, or shopping. Being with her is the memory that will last for me, not the place.
Part two of this amazing story will be next Monday. You will see the incredible “Promise” that Jamie gave to his daughter.