One thing that missionary kids excell at is in reveling in their natural habitat. From swings to elaborate treehouses from which to launch on zip lines, we certainly created plenty of opportunities for thrills.
This is one of the breathtaking views we had from that house.
We also had a little platform over some roots that was our hammock space. When Dad was putting up an even longer rope swing, he asked for a volunteer to test it with him. My sister Lizzy stepped forward, unafraid that Dad's knot tying might not hold. Sure enough, the rest of us girls had our doubts vindicated! On the backswing, the rope broke, and Dad and Lizzy fell to the ground, landing on some big above-ground roots. Dad landed on Lizzy, and Mom was certain he'd killed her or broken bones or caused internal bleeding. At first, Lizzy assured everybody she was fine, but when Mom continued to fuss and Dad kept acting so contrite, she began to ham it up, whimpering and letting her arms hang limply while she got carried with great fanfare into the house. She got to spend the rest of the day on a pile of cushions, eating the entire sent-from-America Tootsie Roll stash. With rewards like that, the rest of us girls felt sorry we hadn't volunteered after all!
At the next house we lived at in Grenada, we took it to the next level and had a four storey treehouse, complete with super long rope swing.
Come to think of it, we Schaefer girls haven't had much luck with rope swings, because Mary was swinging on this one once and ended up flipping over the nearby retaining wall to land on her back on some coconuts. Dad was so scared she'd broken her back that he drove the little red car down the hill to get her and drive her back up to the house so she wouldn't walk. But Mary was too good and honest to let our parents feed her all the American candy when she wasn't really injured.
Aside from rope swings and hammocks, the favourite contraption at MKs' houses was the zip line. A couple of our friends had great tree lines in their yards that were perfect for their zip line setups. We'd spend hours taking turns hurling our bodies from tops of makeshift ladders (slats nailed into coconut trees) while hanging on tightly to small metal pipes suspended from the zip line. Only be careful you don't slam into the tree into the other end!!
One missionary family lived right on the edge of the rainforest, so we'd go exploring and hiking whenever we visited them. There was a small quicksand pool that Darrell always told us we'd get sucked down into our deaths if we even stepped a toe in. Scared me spitless everytime he ominously warned us. If it was really that dangerous, I wonder at our parents for letting us go play around it! More likely he was just being his annoying self and teasing me (probably made all the sweeter for him since I swallowed it every single time!).
I grew up climbing mango trees and spending all day up there, reading. If I got hungry, I could always reach out a hand and pick a snack!
Growing up so close to nature is something I really appreciate about my childhood. While it's a miracle none of us ever got seriously injured, I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.