Home and Away
How does one family handle the deployment of a husband and father?
BY: Jana Melpolder
Nancy French: I think that we’re more fearless. I don’t worry about things as much as I should. I put more trust in God over the day-to-day affairs of our lives. And so it makes me less leery and it makes you worry less. So it frees you up to be more adventurous, which helps the relationship.
What lessons are you trying to teach your children through your decision to serve?
David: You can talk the talk all you want but nothing does it more than walking the walk. We have three children. But we noticed in our two older children [that] they matured enormously during the course of the deployment. But I think the best act of parenting that I ever did was going to Iraq. I can even remember when I was considering joining [that] I was talking to a very dear friend of mine. I said, "You realize if I join I'm going to be away from my family a lot more and if I end up going to Iraq that I’ll be away, at the very least, for the full year of the deployment. Something bad or terrible could happen to me and I could never see them again". And he said, "What’s the better way to raise your children? Is it to be constantly present or is it to give them an example of what it’s like to live out God’s call on your life"? And that comment made a tremendous impression upon me. And I think in communicating this and in communicating that reality to our children it’s had a tremendous positive impression on them. I’ve seen both of them have a much softer heart towards other people, a much greater concern and awareness for other people than they did before I left.
Nancy: When he went to Iraq, one of the ways that we explained it to them is that there are people over there who needed help. It helps them understand that that’s what you should do in life. While David was in Iraq the kids came up to me with a long list of reasons why we should adopt an orphan from wherever because it had kind of gotten into their system that you help people who are in duress. That’s how we ended up with our third child. Service kind of got a hold of our kids’ hearts.