The McFarlands' kids have made the most of their time in Russia
Darin and Susan McFarland have raised their 5 children in Russia while serving with Campus Crusade for Christ. But being missionary kids hasn't held any of them back.
Alex McFarland, 14
"The better points [of being a missionary kid] are knowing 2 languages, getting to meet new people from other places, and going to other countries. It's more of an adventurous life."
Susan on Alex: "He's kind of a dreamer, the absent-minded professor. He has a real sensitive spirit. He's also very adaptable."
Darin on Alex: "He's really very intelligent. We also call him the chameleon because he does well in groups of any kind."
Alex, a hard-working hockey player, scored a goal during one of his recent games. According to brother Nick, their dad's cheers were so loud that Nick could hear him all the way in the locker room. "It's kind of embarrassing because that's not what they do in Russia," Alex says. "The guys on my team thought it was pretty funny."
Christopher "Bear" McFarland, 11
"I like to play soccer and lift weights. My favorite foods are pizza, spaghetti and maple syrup with pancakes."
Abbey on Bear: "He doesn't get embarrassed. He can just turn on the music and start dancing while everybody's watching him."
Darin on Bear: "Bear was the first [of our kids] to use the Russian he knew. He is so motivated by relationships that he just wants to connect with people. He is very affectionate."
Bear has a helper that accompanies him to school. Sometimes, though, his stubborn streak comes out. "One time, I was on my way to take one of the kids to hockey," Darin remembers. "I drove by Bear's school and saw his helper standing and Bear was up in the tree and wouldn't come down. I rolled down the window and yelled, 'Bear! Get out of the tree! Go home!'" Not sure where the voice was coming from, Bear quickly climbed down and headed for home.
Abigail "Abbey" McFarland, 10
"It's good [to be a missionary kid] because when I grow up, I can be a missionary if I want to. We travel a lot, go to different places, see different countries. I like learning languages."
Bear on Abbey: "Abbey's the princess and a ballerina."
Alex on Abbey: "She's the sister. She has to be pretty tough. She can out-wrestle all of the boys in her class."
"She's the most connected, the most 'Russified' of our kids," says Darin. "She's written stories in Russian. She reads books in Russian for fun. No one assigns it to her. She's always painting and drawing and writing."
Nick McFarland, 8
"[I'm good at] bugging David, bugging Alex, playing hockey and scoring goals."
Darin on Nick: "Nick is quick. It's more important [to him] to be finished and have free time. He is very introspective."
Susan on Nick: "He's very gifted athletically. It's natural thing for him. He's got the competiveness, the agility. He's very thoughtful. He's also the organized child."
"Nick is a visual learner," Darin has observed. "He watched hockey for a couple of years before he actually agreed to play it. He watched and listened and learned from seeing. He's not the book-worm type of person that learns stuff from books."
David McFarland, 4
"I'm good at lifting, and I'm good at running. I skate. I go backwards and cross over. I want to play hockey with the hockey puck."
Alex on David: "David is the one that's always kind of a tough guy, trying to tag along."
Susan on David: "He's very affectionate. There's no shyness with him. He's very conversational. He's just a delightful child."
"At 4 years old, he's fun to be with," says Susan. "He loves being right with me in the kitchen, helping me. He would have me making cookies every single day if he could. He's just a chipper, happy child."