Ever wonder if the featured missionary kid in our MK Profiles still loves mac and cheese or still wants to be a lion tamer when he or she grows up? Each month, we’ll give “Where Are They Now?” updates on MKs we featured in the 2000s. We hope this will be a lot of fun and will provide children with a better idea of how their prayers today make a difference in the lives of MKs for years to come.
Throughout the summer, many International Mission Board workers will send their kids back to the United States to start college. This is an incredibly emotional time for us as parents, and it can be so challenging for our kids as they navigate a new culture—the American culture!
Because these missionary kids—sometimes called third-culture kids (TCKs)—look and sound like other Americans (mine even have a proper Southern drawl), people expect them to feel at home when they come to the States for college. But many of them have spent most of their life outside of the States and the transition for them can be like riding a rollercoaster: both exhilarating and terrifying with lots of ups and downs. Please pray for these kids and for their parents in these next weeks and months.
Here are a few insights and ways to help, in case you have the opportunity to love on some of our kids. It will mean so much to parents who must return to the field and to the kids they leave behind!
During our first overseas missions assignment, our children attended an international school that catered to children of the international diplomatic and business communities as well as the wealthier citizens of the local community. The school was bilingual. Our kids learned all subjects in English and in the local national language. Due to the heavy demands of the school and the travel required to and from school, our kids woke up early and came home late. By the time our children completed their nightly homework, ate dinner and took a bath, it was bedtime. That doesn't take into account the extracurricular activities they were involved with. Our family life quickly revolved around school. Our family began to pray about alternatives, including homeschooling.
When we returned to the United States for our first furlough (now called stateside assignment), the teachers in our school district went on strike. We had to make a choice about how to finish the children’s school year. We chose to homeschool.
We arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 1990, with an 8-month-old baby boy. In all the thoughts of transitioning to a new country, it never occurred to us that there wouldn’t be a school for our children to attend. In one of our first missionary team meetings after we arrived, we found ourselves listening to a lively discussion about the cost of international schools and about the decision that, moving forward, all missionaries would homeschool their children until high school.
This news came as a bit of a shock to me. When the time came for us to choose a curriculum, the process was pretty simple. We looked around at all the missionary kids and went to the mother of the family whose children seemed to be doing well with their education. We asked her what curriculum she used to teach her children. That’s what I ordered.
Some of the things our children said they enjoyed about studying at home were:
“We would learn about another country, and then we would go there.”
“It was so easy to get from one country to another.”
We truly counted it a privilege to serve as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Our family was blessed beyond measure, not only for the financial support, but for the spiritual and emotional support as well.
Our MK schooling story includes many moves. Serving in a restricted access country means that you don’t really know what might be next. God was faithful and led us every step of the way. We landed with a 2-year-old and an almost- 4-year-old. Our first year of language study by immersion had us balancing tutors, child care in our home and some kindergarten homeschooling. The lessons and creative arts gave us a needed routine for the day. And it was fun! Little sister even got her own sheets to color, and almost every day we had a fun family time of interacting with something new.