Since we didn’t have access to many of the extracurricular programs that are available in the United States, especially after moving to the village, we took the opportunity to develop our imaginations and leadership skills by creating “programs” for ourselves. Using the encyclopedia, my brother constructed a regulation badminton court on our lawn, and our dad taught us the rules. At our bi-yearly mission conferences, I planned childcare programs for the preschoolers during the day and joined with homeschooled friends in decorating for the banquet celebration on the final night. My brothers and I loved the performing arts. We recruited whatever other homeschoolers were around, as well as local friends, and made movies or plays. The fall of my senior year, I directed a homemade version of the Beauty and the Beast musical with a cast of nine younger children and two obliging adults.

Perhaps the greatest blessing of being homeschooled was the privilege of becoming best friends with my family members. Times of isolation deepened the bonds between us. I became especially close to my mom, since she was often the only “girlfriend” around.

Since my siblings and I were never separated from our parents to attend boarding school, living at home allowed us to be involved in their ministry. On one occasion, I visited a literacy school for nomadic children with my parents and other members of their team. I helped perform a health check, weighing the little ones on a bathroom scale. Another time, I went to a sewing school for poor women, admiring their intricate handwork as my mom passed out prizes to the graduates. Doing missions together—just like we did school together—united our family in a way that would not have been possible had we not been homeschooled.

Though my Lewis, Chesterton, and Eliot paper may not have earned an A in a “regular” classroom, through my homeschool experience on the mission field I learned how to work with what God had given me. Through all the struggles, frustrations, and limitations of homeschooling outside of the United States, our family experienced God’s provision. Even though we sometimes felt alone, He was always there, providing the resources and encouragement we needed each day.

Esther Dalton is a student at Biola University in southern California. She grew up in South Asia, where her parents were missionaries, and was homeschooled for eleven years. Now she is pursuing a degree in English writing. Her first novel, Zelle of the Tower, was written while she was in high school and published in May 2011.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: June 7, 2013