Letter From A Missionary Kid
As missionary kids, we face so many different things that most people do not even think about. From the beginning, our lives begin in a constant state of the “unknown.” The journey of missions, for many, begins either when we are babies, or when we are in middle school. Our parents have started to begin the process with application and much prayer. Family members are prepared and slowly the reality of this dream sets in. This is the life we lead as global nomads.
The decision has been made: we need to go. The paperwork is in, and we are waiting for the one agonizing call that will change our lives forever. We’ve been summoned for interviewing; the approval has been made. We warned them, they should know by now; it’s obvious, right? What else would our family be thinking as we frantically pack boxes, rushing to get rid of the “extra stuff” and put the non-essential items in storage? WE ARE GOING!
The travel begins, and at first it’s the fresh reality of a dream that we really are missionaries traveling on deputation. The excitement then wears off and it becomes tedious work that must be endured until the end. Mile after long mile, the end seems so far away. Questions like “Will you live in a mud hut”? “Do you speak Mexican”? “Is it true that French girls don’t shave their underarms?” and “Can you drive there?” are frequently answered with longsuffering. The tedious work of dragging in a footlocker of display items become a daily work-out session; a good service is no longer determined by how many received the Holy Ghost, but by how many items were sold off the display table.
As the road seems to grow longer by the mile, we ask ourselves, “Are we really ready for this? Can I really survive life in a third-world country?” The barrage of questions seems to grow continuously as the departure date looms ahead. Our final months in America are here; the countdown has begun. The last General Conference for four years is the one that we will remember forever. It is at this meeting, God willing, where we will be fully funded. Our name has been presented before the people, and we wait anxiously to know the outcome of the conference. The crowd erupts in spontaneous cheers as we fight the onslaught of tears. We made it! We are fully funded!
The busiest months have arrived as we pack a container in which all our personal belongings will sit for a few months. Suitcases being shipped on the plane are packed and are soon full and bulging to their utmost capacity. The layover in an airport terminal makes the longest flight we have ever embarked upon seem so much longer; but at last, we have arrived in the country of our calling. We have made our grand debut.
Through the crazy months of settling in, we try to make our home as “American” as possible. The fact that a bottle of Heinz ketchup can cost more than twelve dollars is appalling. It is to be pulled out for special occasions only! The reality has yet to set in … are we really here? Electricity becomes a precious amenity; and our laptops become our most prized possession in a world filled with blogging, IM, and emails as we try to stay connected to the “outside” world. Words like adapt, change, and flexibility become the foundation of our vocabulary as we try to sort out our lives on this side of the ocean. The times are changing, and so must we.
Here come the lonely months in the form of culture shock. What were my parents thinking when they dragged me here? Just exactly what am I supposed to do besides schoolwork? I’m not fluent in the local language, and it’s not exactly safe for me to be walking around the neighborhood. I can’t exactly go door to door sharing the Good News. It’s in this time where we question just about everything that was ever taught to us as kids. The only thing we have to stand upon is the fact that we are not the only ones going through this, although sometimes we wonder.
This is our last year here, the next few months we will be saying goodbye to the thousands of people that we prayed for, the countless babies we touched on the cheek, and the endless amounts of people with whom we shared “a moment” with while at the market. You see, we are now facing more unknowns—USA and college. It’s the home of our birth, yet we are strangers in a foreign land there. Here, in our country, we are at home. We first left “home” to come to a nation that had a name we barely knew how to pronounce, and now we are leaving the home of our hearts. While over here, we are white, yet, in America, we are African, Spanish, European or Asian, whatever country we are coming from; people assume that is our culture. We have no culture, so we make our own. A bond so tight, a stranger can walk up and say, “I’m an MK,” and we instantly ‘know’ them. There is a connection; we have a bond. We are a family. I am an MK!
by: Kandra Robertson
MK to Tanzania