10 Questions Missionary Kids Would Love to be Asked

by Taylor Murray on May 19, 2016

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Most MKs are asked hundreds of questions during their families’ home assignments. Ironically, many of us leave our passport countries feeling unknown. In all honesty, we usually don’t answer questions well. Our fumbling answers can create distance.  Many times we feel as though these questions are asked politely, without time or desire to listen to our answers. In order to avoid awkwardness or unintentional hurt, MKs can detach and dispel memorized responses.

This makes it difficult for those who truly want to connect. Have you ever longed to know an MK, but don’t know how to reach his or her heart?  Have you sensed that we struggle to respond to your questions, but don’t know what else to ask? As an MK, I’ve learned that certain questions can unlock the heart.

Here are ten questions MKs would love to be asked. There are two different types of questions for two different locations: church-lobby questions and coffee-shop questions.

CHURCH-LOBBY QUESTIONS

Ask these questions when you want make a friendly connection with an MK. Stop. Look the MK in the eye. And listen. Since we are asked so many questions, we usually gauge our response based on the question-asker’s body language.

Question #1 What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you overseas?

Like most MKs, I’ve made enough cultural blunders to fill a book.  Most of these mess-ups include public bathing, getting lost, and/or eating unique cuisine during my family’s travels.

I love sharing these humorous memories. I can easily tell pieces of my story and describe my life as an MK. A side note: Prepare to laugh. (We tend to regularly embarrass ourselves cross-culturally.)

 

Question #2 What do you miss about your host country?

“You must be thrilled to be back!” and “You must miss the US terribly!” and “I don’t know how you live over there!”

While on home assignment, I struggle with these frequent, well-intended assumptions. Most people don’t realize I miss Japan (my host country) every day. “How could you miss a country that you don’t technically belong to?” People wonder. Sometimes I feel as though these longings are misunderstood or unrecognized.

 

Question #3 Can you describe a regular day in your life?

This is my favorite question. In reality, my daily life doesn’t look that different from any other normal teenager: breakfast. School. Homework. Church. But that’s not the point.

I love this question because it indicates genuine curiosity and desire to know the details of my life. Not my parent’s life. Not details of our ministry or the culture I live in. But my life.

 

Question #4 Where’s your favorite place to go in your host country?

This is an easy question for MKs, instantly relieving stress. My answer would be the sushi bar ten minutes from my home in Hiroshima. Sushi is my ultimate comfort food.

This question and the pursuing conversation recognize our love for our host countries that have become a significant part of who we are.

 

Question #5 Which places do you feel most at home?

When I visit the United States, many people tell me, “You must be so glad to be home!” They don’t realize that I left home to return home.  I have many homes, not just one.

“Home” is an ambiguous term for MKs. To answer this question, we might even name a place where we’ve never actually lived. Once, my sister told a church member she felt most at home in Thailand (with other MKs). Sometimes it’s the people, not the place, which creates this sense of belonging.

 

COFFEE-SHOP QUESTIONS

These questions aren’t supposed to be asked in a church lobby.  Ask these questions when you are intentionally investing time and energy into the life of a specific MK.

Coffee Shop Questions

Question #6 What’s the hardest and best thing about being missionary kid?

I would never trade my MK experience. But some people unintentionally dismiss the hardships of life abroad: “You are so lucky!” They exclaim, “You have such great experiences!”

I agree whole-heartedly. But good is always intertwined with struggles. MKs need permission and a safe place to talk about them, without fear of judgement or a quick beckoning to focus, instead, on the positive.

 

Question #7 What characteristics of your host country’s culture have become a part of you?

Many MKs look like one country and act like another.

If you scroll down and look at the picture next to my bio, you might not realize that I’m part Asian. Outwardly, I have blonde hair and blue eyes. Inwardly, I have Asian mannerisms, though-processes, and cultural tendencies. Sometimes I receive strange looks from people who don’t understand the “Asian” side of me. This question conveys positivity and curiosity of the ways my host country has changed me.

 

Question #8  What scares you most about visiting/returning to your passport country?

Visiting the US scares me. This seems ironic, since I was born in the US and am American. But I don’t know how to live life in the US anymore. While in Japan, I am accepted as the foreigner. But in the US, I feel like a foreigner who is expected to fit in.

By asking this question, you will help us process these fears, which is key to a healthy adjustment.

 

Question #9 What are some of your deepest losses as a missionary kid?

When I became an MK at nine-years-old, my entire world “died.” We left family, comfort, and literacy. My family and I had to create a new world in Japan while learning to read, speak, listen, and write.  Even going simple places (like the grocery store) seemed stressful. This significantly impacted my sense of identity.

Most MKs also lose a grounded understanding of their passport countries. Change is a constant in an MK’s life. And with this comes overwhelming, accumulating losses.

 

Question #10  How can I pray for you?

One time, my parents were presenting to a small group in Ohio. A lady came up to me after the presentation. With a kind smile, she asked me how she could pray. I started rehearsing my memorized response, “Please pray for the ministry…” She stopped me mid-sentence. “No, no, no. Your parents already covered that, and I will definitely be praying. But how can I pray for you?

I stared at her. Tears welled. This was the first time anyone had asked for a prayer request from me, personally.

*******

These are the top ten questions that resonate with me. One of my MK friends recently told me that during home assignment, she wanted to be asked “any meaningful question by someone who was truly interested in knowing the answer.” The questions themselves are not as important as the spirit of those who ask them. Ask specific questions. Ask sincerely. Ask with your whole heart and with your full attention. This is what truly matters most to MKs.

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Head Shot-- Taylor Joy MurrayTaylor Joy Murray, a 17-year-old Third Culture Kid, is passionate about supporting the globally mobile through her writing. She wrote Hidden in My Heart: A TCK’s Journey Through Cultural Transition when she was 13 years old. The book shows the pain and raw emotions during cross-cultural transition. She currently writes from her own struggles to answer TCK questions on her blog, www.taylorjoymurray.com.

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  • Marilyn Gardner

    Fantastic article Taylor! You’ve done it again. Thinking of you and hope I see you next year at FIGT.

    • Taylor

      Thank you, Marilyn!! Would love to attend FIGT next year– so enjoyed participating in the panel this past March! 🙂

  • JungleMama

    I’m a mom of two bright and beautiful TCK’s, living on Borneo. I love this article, and have shared it with the people in my kids’ lives who need and want to know! Thank you for writing and for caring for kids like mine! <3

    • Taylor

      Thank YOU for your encouraging comment, and for sharing my post with those in your kids’ lives!

  • Scarlet Jessen

    Oh my goodness Taylor! This is so perfect. I’ve been a MK since I was 5. After 13 years of answering the same questions at a million different churches… I understand every word to a “T”. Thank you so much for righting it! It was really encouraging to hear their are others out there who understand!Oh my goodness Taylor! This is so perfect. I’ve been a MK since I was 5. After 13 years of answering the same questions at a million different churches… I understand every word to a “T”. Thank you so much for righting it! It was really encouraging to hear their are others out there who understand!

    • Scarlet Jessen

      I live in Thailand btw!

    • Taylor

      So encouraged that you resonated with my post, Scarlet! 🙂

  • Jillian

    These are great questions. You’re from Hiroshima, I see. Did you go to Hiroshima International School? I grew up in Hiroshima and attended that school until 8th grade when I moved up to CAJ in Tokyo. Hiroshima is still my furusato. Keep up your writing. These are really good thoughts. And I totally get you on being “part Asian”. It takes people only a short while, even now, some 30 years after I’ve left, to figure that out about me as well. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Jillian

      Go Carp, by the way! Sounds like they’ve been doing pretty good this year.:-)

    • Taylor

      Hi Jillian! I was so excited to see that you grew up in Hiroshima too!!! I’ve been home schooled since kindergarten, but a few of my friends have attended HIS! I think the more I live in Japan, the more Asian I become. So many people have asked me if I’m half-Japanese (despite my blonde hair and blue eyes) because of my Asian mannerisms. It’s a part of me I don’t want to lose! Loved reading how even thirty years after you left Japan, people still recognize the “Asian” in you. 🙂

      • Jillian

        Haha, back when I was in yochien in Hiroshima, I had white blonde hair but spoke perfect Hiroshima dialect Japanese, and I’m told by the Japanese women who were in the church at that time that other Japanese always had to do a double take when they’d hear Hiroshima dialect coming out of this little gaijin. I can’t say that I was very Asian in how well I behaved at that age. My yochien teachers would get exasperated with me because I was always talking when I wasn’t supposed to be, and in the photos, when everyone is sitting so properly and looking in the right direction, I’m standing up and looking somewhere else. Haha. I guess in that way, I wasn’t so Asian, but as I grew up, it developed more.:-) What are your plans from here? Will you be staying in Japan for a while longer or going to the States for college? Blessings on you in all your next steps into your future. Keep writing for sure. I shared your article and many people like it.

  • Joanie Troester

    Thanks for sharing your heart and experiences. These questions, and the interest to hear the answer, would be a breathe of fresh air for adult missionaries, too. Often we also feel that no one really wants to hear about the special people we’ve left behind and the experiences that have created the bond that we have. Adult missionaries also can feel that a third culture is the place of comfort.

    • Taylor

      My mom said that she would love for someone to ask her these questions too! haha! 🙂

  • Bryan Avey

    Truly a great article, I really love seeing other TCK’s / MK’s perspectives. I felt so isolated back in my days (80’s and 90’s) and hated the stupid questions people asked me…and their assumptions about me. I grew up mostly in Brazil btw, so you can imagine how many jungle comments I heard at age 17. Your blog can definitely tell young TCK’s they aren’t alone! Good stuff. Keep it up.

    • Taylor

      Thank you for the encouragement to keep working on my blog! God is teaching me so much through writing. So excited for these opportunities to share with others! Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

  • A very good article. We are having a month of visiting missionaries to our church mid-June – to Mid-July. These are great questions and insights. Thanks. For me… I love short term mission trips. Photo: Malawi, Africa.

    • Taylor

      LOVE, LOVE the picture, Jacqueline! Thank you for including it in your comment! Praying these questions will be insightful as you will have missionaries visiting your church soon. (I love short-term missions too. Even though I am an MK, I went on my first “mission trip” three years ago. God spoke to me so powerfully! )

  • JudeThree

    fantastic article, and absolutely unique, I copied the questions and will be ‘trying them out’ on my nearest MK 🙂

    • Taylor

      Yeah, JudeThree! So happy to hear that you will be ‘trying these questions out’ on your MK friend! 🙂 Praying they bridge deeper conversations into the heart.

  • Mikaela

    This article really resonates with me. I’ve been back in my passport country for nearly 5 years now and I still don’t fully understand aspects of the culture and do and say things that are distinctly Asian from growing up there. Thanks for putting my emotions into words 🙂

    • Taylor

      So happy to hear that these questions resonated with you, Mikaela! I am returning to my passport country for university next year. Every time I visit the US, I recognize more aspects of the culture I don’t understand. I know that moving back will be a huge adjustment– praying for you as you continue to transition!

  • Tom Hardeman

    Taylor, you were really spot-on with your post. I am a mish kid from the Philippines who then transferred to Japan as an adult and raised our own five mks in Higashi Kurume for 14 years and are now back in the Philippines serving at an MK school in Manila. God clearly moved us back to Manila, but it took us five years of emotional grieving to “get over” the loss of our adopted culture and community in Japan…and actually they will never leave our hearts. Keep up your excellent writing! Your set of questions are the ones I would have loved to have someone ask me growing up and experiencing all of those funky furloughs with folks who just didn’t get it.

    • Taylor

      Thank you so much, Tom, for your encouraging comment! I completely understand what you said about emotionally grieving the loss of cultures. I had to grieve to loss of my passport country at nine-years-old, and I am currently grieving the loss of Japan before moving back to the US for university. I wrote a post on my blog about my MK experiences called “Leaving Narnia…My MK World.” I’ve attached the link below– I think you might really relate to it! http://www.taylorjoymurray.com/2015/11/16/leaving-narnia-my-mk-world/

  • Alina

    Taylor! This was so wonderful! I shared it with my friends back “home” so they would have the right questions ready for when my kids (and so many others) go back for home assignment. Your writing is clear, fun, informative and so rich with genuine experiences as an MK. Well done!

    • Shanthi Gamble

      I just shared it too as we’re headed back “home” for a few months this Fall! I truly hope it opens the eyes of people who read it so that the MK’s can feel cherished.

    • Taylor

      Thank you for sharing these questions, Alina! I hope your kids have the opportunity to answer them. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for writing this. As a grandmother to 2 MKs and a “former” M myself, I can identify with some of what you experience/feel. This article will remind me to be ever cognizant of the need of TCKs/MKs to share THEIR story, THEIR prayer needs, THEIR lives. Blessings to you!

    • Taylor

      Thank you so much. Blessings to you too! 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Taylor, this was truly an epiphany moment for me. You see, I am 100% American raised and US bred. But I married a missionary kid. Oh sure, he’d been in the States for some time before we met and married, but something never settled with me about him. I always felt slightly awkward (& sadly still do at times) when he spoke. Not because of his accent but because whenever he opens his mouth, he’s… How do I put it… Just off somehow. I cringe sometimes when he says or does things because “it’s not OK to do that here.” I thought that when I told him that, I was being kind and gentle. But in reality, I was (and still am) asking him to their away everything he is! Not anymore! Don’t get me wrong. Our marriage is wonderful! But there was always something nebulously off. This post helped me understand. Thank you!!!

    • Taylor

      Jennifer, I am so, so encouraged to hear that these questions helped you understand a little bit more of your husband’s background– you can now recognize the culture he grew up in peeking through! Thank you for sharing your “epiphany moment” with me! 🙂

  • Anna B

    Excellent article Taylor! As interesting as it sounds, I have always wanted to be an MK. Both sets of my grandparents were missionaries for 30 years in the Philippines, and I have been blessed to have the opportunity to spend six months in the Philippines and now I am in Peru for six months. One of my best friends is an MK, and I see her struggling to adjust to being in the States. Thank you for the excellent questions that I can use to build my relationship with her.

    • Taylor

      Thank you, Anna! Praying for your MK friend who is struggling. Praying that these questions bridge a deeper understanding and connection with her!

  • Tim

    I think you are confusing MK with TCK. MK does not mean living abroad.

  • Jim

    Does not necessarily mean living abroad. Niether does TCK.

  • TVS

    This doesn’t really to touch on some of the down sides of being a MK.My dad was a missionary carpenter who was in demand all over Alaska in the early years of northern missions,so I went to 10 schools in 12 years.I saw and lived in a lot of beautiful country ,but it was not easy to always be the new kid.I had wonderfull parents who worked extremely hard just to keep food on the table,while living in some very crude dwellings,with very little money(nobody had “full support”)But at least we were together. Later in life I met a number of MKs that were angry/bitter/sad about being sent away to boarding school,missing out on so many years of being with their family.I certainly don’t regret my childhood years,but one had to be a survivor 🙂

    • Taylor

      Thanks for your comment! I understand where you’re coming from– being an MK can be extremely difficult and painful at times. It can be so hard to be the “new kid” over and over again. That’s the purpose for this article– to help ease those times when MKs constantly feel unknown. 🙂

  • Kara

    Taylor, you were right on with this article. I was in and out of Africa from the time I was 3 until I was 18, and it was always a challenge bouncing back and forth. I personally hated some of the questions that I was asked, because they were the same few questions. I used to wonder how some people were so unaware of the larger picture, and was secretly frustrated with their ignorance. Now that I’m an adult, I can look back and understand a little bit more as to why those questions were asked. Even though it’s years later, it’s still hard to share my experiences with people. I often wonder how to explain to someone, if asked, about the 3 times I was evac’d from 2 different countries because of coups. For a while, I ran away from it all, moving away from my family at 18 so I could try to find myself. I was so tired of people asking me questions – I wanted anonymity. I realize now that while my experiences have made me stronger, I’m more independent (not necessary a bad thing), but I also don’t like relying on others because I’ve felt since age 8 that I have to be self-reliant. Being a MK was both isolating traumatic at times. It’s not something that many people can fathom, and it definitely has made it difficult for me to relate to others. I have very few friends, as establishing a relationship with someone that’s never gone through what we go through, has been a very big challenge. Personality wise, I’ve turned out to be of the more practical sort, so trying to have a relationship with people who can’t or don’t have “in-depth” conversations, makes it even more difficult. God was gracious enough to introduce me to my husband/best friend, and we married almost 4 years ago. Though he “knows” me, I’m pretty sure my husband doesn’t completely and will never completely understand me or what I’ve experienced.

    • Taylor

      So blessed to hear that you resonated with these questions, Kara. Sounds like you had such a difficult MK experience– my heart goes out to you! You are a good writer. Have you ever thought about writing about your experiences in Africa? I have found that God works in my heart and helps me process pain through writing. Only after writing about the pain can I find the joy. Start writing!!!! 🙂

  • Shanthi Gamble

    While living in Uganda, we adopted to kids. We already had 2 birth children. We went moved back to the US after 6 years, we treasured that our 2 adopted kids were truly “African American”. But my two American kids wanted to know why they couldn’t check the box that said they were African American. They decided that were American Africans then! I love having multi-cultural kids!

    • Taylor

      Haha! Thanks for sharing this story with me,, Shanthi! 🙂 So fun. I have four sisters, and the three youngest are all adopted. My family has lots of hilarious adoption stories too!

  • Chris VDS

    These are great insights, not only for “MK”s, but for adult “M”s as well. I didn’t go to “the field”, (Malawi, Africa) until I was 42. But I still feel most of these same things every time I go “home”. Very well explained. Thank you!

    • Taylor

      Thanks, Chris! 🙂

  • Amber Fernandez

    I hope parents share this article with their kids, since adults will be the main ones reading this. The worst part about furlough was visiting church after church, Sunday school after Sunday school, where kids regaled me with the question, “What’s it like there?” They wanted to vicariously go on African adventures with me. Which is fine! But parents should show their kids how to supplement these questions with more meaningful questions.

    My entire social ability growing up was based on my ability to entertain people with stories about Africa. I didn’t feel valuable; I was a tag-along to my parents’ great ministry. I’m 28 now and am still wrestling with what elements of missionary work did to our family. Thanks for posting!!!

    • Marilyn Gardner

      I so relate with this! Visiting churches was awful and youth groups were the worst!

    • Taylor

      Amber, my Aunt (whose family also lived in Japan as missionaries) had a similar MK experience to yours. She didn’t feel valuable. She also felt like a “tag-along” to her parents ministry. She says she felt “lost in the shuffle of ministry life,” but was “was trying hard to be brave and not be a problem.” Praying God will truly heal your pain and help you process the good and the bad that happened. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me!

  • Elise Korsvik Pinney

    What you are describing is sooo true. I was a MK in Japan for 16 years. Born there, finished high school there. I can relate to feeling like a foreigner in my native country (Norway), feeling like I must look different even though I know I don’t. Not wanting to answer the same questions over and over. Making up small fibs not to have to get into the whole “where are you from? ” question. (My strange not-belonging-anywhere dialect always gives it away.) Closing up before really giving people a chance. Your questions are great. Saving this page for future reference.

    • Taylor

      Yeah! So blessed to hear that you resonated with these questions, Elise! Where did you live in Japan?

      • Elise Korsvik Pinney

        I lived in the Kansai area. Moved around a bit. Mostly Osaka and Kobe. Went to school in Kobe for the most part, so I feel very much at home there.

  • Scott Morris

    I can’t relate to this sort of thing first hand, and because of that, I found this post very timely when a friend shared it on Facebook. Recently, it has been on my heart to find a way to minister to missionary kids. I’m specifically trying to find a way to do it through a book I recently released, but I’ve been burdened about it more generally as well. Considering that my experience on the foreign mission field has been limited to very brief visits to Russia and Finland, there are many, many aspects of the life of missionaries that I simply cannot comprehend, and I know that.

    I’ve been involved in various aspects of children’s ministry at my church for about 13 years (since I was 19), and I’m hoping that a high school sports media outlet that I’m a part of will open up even more ministry opportunities to the players that I interact with. The thing is, relating to kids at my church or high school athletes that live fairly close to me and are in the same culture I’m in is relatively easy. It’s not always simple because of different personalities and struggles, but there’s a fairly large amount of common ground. As you pointed out, that’s not necessarily true for missionary kids.

    I’d like to thank you for writing this. I think that there are ways that I’m very much unequipped to effectively pull off the ministry that I feel burdened for right now, and posts like this are a great help. Thank you very much.

    • Taylor

      Scott, Thank you for sharing this! The last few days, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people longing to support, reach out to, and pray for MKs. I’ve been SO blessed. We can be difficult to talk to– I know I am sometimes! When I went back to the States for home assignment, I had a hard time connecting with our youth leader because he wanted to be “cool.” But we just wanted to go to a coffee shop and talk, heart to heart. He thought acting ‘cool’ was the way to our hearts. But we desperately needed to process our experiences… especially our pain and loss. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and thank you for your desire and commitment to supporting MKs!

  • Everette Robertson

    I, for one, really dislike being stereotyped–whether as an MK or as a introvert or as a husband or father or anything else that I am. I am my own unique person, and my MK status is only one part of my larger identity.

    I’m an adult MK who lived in Africa for 17 years. I am grateful for my upbringing, am proud of the work my parents did. I am in no way criticizing MK’s. But I simply don’t understand people’s need to stereotype them.

    When I’m in a new setting, I would much prefer that people treat me not as an MK, but as an ordinary person from out of town. In many cases, I don’t want to discuss my upbringing with people in depth unless I feel like 1) they actually want to know about it and 2) they have enough wisdom or experience to understand what I’m talking about. If they don’t, I’d much prefer to discuss the weather than to have someone ask me a deeply personal and nuanced question such as, for example, where I feel at home.

    Again, I had a very positive experience of growing up. Many MK’s didn’t (for a host of reasons, which are not always attributable to their MK status), and for them, I think that these kinds of questions may very well do more harm than good.

  • Brendon Traxler

    Great article. I spent my whole Junior and Sr High years in Guatemala. I absolutely hated it at the time, got very depressed being there, but looking back on it I would not have traded it for the world. The experience it has given me was amazing and made me a different, and better, person.

  • BBintheNT

    I am a MK who lives in the Northern Territory Australia, I usually get really annoyed at being asked questions about the NT like it’s a different planet. Anyway, some of your questions are really the type of questions that I wouldn’t mind being asked. Like you said, sometimes when I’m at ‘home’, I really don’t feel like I’m home. My family moves houses a lot anyway, so I’m used to change (just not moving to what I thought was the other side of the world!), so I usually feel at home wherever my family happens to be. My mum told me about this post and asked me what I thought (or whether you were just some person who thought they knew what I felt like) Well I think your really on the right track and that if I were asked some of these questions with sincerity, that I totally wouldn’t feel as annoyed about answering properly!

  • AussieGirl

    Yes yes yes!!!! I can still remember my 7-8 year old self being surrounded by kids in a church lobby, having them all laugh and poke me chatting “say something! say something!” because they wanted to hear my “weird” accent. Shudder.

  • Ricky Gootam

    Dear Taylor – Thank you for writing this article. I am a Missionary Kid myself. I am in that situation. I reading all those didn’t realize all those differences in me. I have a 8 year old son and i think sometime it is hard on hi,. Whenever he goes with me to present our work in US, in the gets up in the morning and asks me “Papa where are we today?” He thinks sometimes he is back in India. Whenever he is in India he misses US so vice-versa. Sometimes i have some things like that when i am in India and so vice-versa. I preach about Jesus but i do have hard time sometime fitting in India as i feel sometime even Indians don’t understand all my manners and my culture as i have spend a lot of my life in US. In US people don’t understand my mind-set. I sometimes feel my culture is not-Indian and not even American but it is combination of both to the higher degree. I didn’t realise all the differences/confusion until reading your article. Thank you for pointing out. I will be little careful with my children as they grow up. My family is my first ministry which is given by God. Though i minister in hundreds of people with our ministry in India, my family is my first ministry. Thank you for writing this article. God bless you – Ricky Gootam, missinory from Kakinada, India!

  • MK Noname

    I remember returning “home” when I was 18. The rest of the family remained on the “mission field”.
    In the years I’d been way, the home church had gone from being a small conservative group to a much larger charasmatic congregation and my father in his infinite dogmatic wisdom had bitten the hand that fed him by critisizing the change.
    I attended a few times, but I was well on my way out of religion by then, the MK experience had been nightmare and I just wanted to get away from it all. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, certainly the questions were few and far between, but then I was so muddled up by what I’d experienced that it would have been hard to get a straight answer anyway.
    The rest of the family came “home” a year latter and I was required by my father to put in an appearance at church, to preserve the myth that we were one happy family unit, heros of christendom returning from the last great crusade and in need of funds to contiune the fight against the forces of darkness . . .
    Six months latter my parents departed again for the “mission field” taking one sibling and leaving another. And I got out of the church scene for good.
    Advance 30 years and I stumbled on a website for victims of abuse suffered by the mission my parents had served with. The penny dropped and what I had long suspected was true. We’d been involved in a “cult like” mission group, that had gone to great lengths to cover up a very long list of paedophiles in it’s ranks. Suddenly I found others who had been through similar experiences, most of us having been led to believe that we abberations in an otherwise eutopian MK experience.
    Few questions were asked of this MK then and there is very little interest expressed many decades latter in what has been swept under the carpet as it now emerges into full view.
    My point in posting this, is some MKs may well have been traumatized by their MK experiences, but having been so fully immersed in a very different world on the “mission field” it may take some time before they come to the realisation that what they have experienced was so far from “normal” (whatever normal is) and the programming they received to never let the family down by opening up about their experiences is totally wrong.
    Ask 10 questions, ask a 100. But when the answers seem vague, programmed or changing with time, then ask very gently “why”?

  • Sensitive Country

    My kids talk about OCK questions. Those are the questions they get asked by “One Culture Kids”. I’ll post your article for our friends to read before the next time we go to the States. Thank you.

  • Aaron

    Brilliant. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jack Garrott

    Thank you for getting this out there! I was born in Japan of missionary parents in 1948, right after WWII, and have served here (Omura, Nagasaki) myself since 1981, so I have lived with these issues a LONG time! About 40 years ago someone from Personnel from my parents’ mission board asked me if I knew why Japan MK’s had more psychological/emotional problems than those from any other field. I couldn’t give him a good answer then, but I have since realized that in most fields, MK’s are either accepted as part of the local culture or they don’t WANT to really be part of the local culture. In Japan, however much we might desperately want to be accepted as Japanese, we never will be, and that can be extremely painful.

  • Steve and Becky Swope

    Hi Taylor. I just read this so I’m a little late to the conversation. I work with MK Care and Member care with my mission organization and am doing a presentation to my home church on “What your missionary might be feeling and thinking (but doesn’t know how to tell you)” soon. I’m glad I found your blog here: it will be a help to me as I prepare! Thanks for taking these difficult questions and posing them in a positive, thoughtful way. I’ll be happy to recommend this blog to many!

  • Joseph Conway

    Hi Taylor, my names Joe and I’m also a 17 year old Mk currently living in Budapest. I’ve moved 16 across 5 countries in my life so I am well aware of cultural transitions. I have one question about these types of posts. Why do mk’s need to be portrayed like this, I understand where you’re coming from but don’t you think that every blog post like this gives a narrowed view on mk’s. I’m not trying to be condescending but I would appreciate it if you could explain to me why the most common thing you see about mk’s online has something to do with these questionnaires.

  • Darwin

    Excellent.

  • Elizabeth Hunter

    I’m in my 50s and would still love to be asked those questions. But generally no one does (unless it is other TCKs! 🙂
    (I was born and raised in Africa,’til age 18, and then lived many years as an adult in Europe ).
    Happy life, feel very lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had. But very much aware of many challenges of being a tck.
    Really enjoyed this article.

  • John Mark Hansen

    Taylor- I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I am the father of to adult MKs…We spent part of our time in Taiwan and then 10 years later Panama….so even our kids had different experiences from one another. I have forwarded your excellent article to them for their insights. They are both married and have kids of their own and have chosen to live near us in our retirement in the States….Many MKs try to settle fast when they get out on their own after high school….others want to roar and take many years to settle… Do you fall in either of these camps?

  • That is great to know! I talk to many missionaries and every once in a while I get to talk to their children, though not often. These are some great questions to ask. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bryan Brock

    I don’t really agree with this list. I spent nearly 20 years as an mk. I strongly dislike/d 1-3 and I despise/d 6, 8, and 9. Why would I want to share what is hard and what I fear and my deepest losses with a stranger? The rest I could take or leave. The best experience I had coming to my passport country was my Jr yr of high school. At that point I had only spent 3 years in my passport country and only 1 that I had and real recollection. I spent 5 months in my mom’s home town. The only person I knew at school was my cousin who was a sr (who I didn’t really know). In that 5 months I made some of the deepest friendships I have ever had (6 including my cousin). All of whom I am still in contact with despite not having seen most of them in years. They didn’t ask me any of these questions at all. They just treated me like a Jr in high school. They just let me be and of course some of these topics naturally came up, but it wasn’t about that and probably consisted of less than 5% of any real discussion. It was about me and them just accepting each other as friends. The ones who actively asked these questions made me feel like an outsider and quickly faded from my radar. It just felt/feels forced and awkward. I didn’t ask these questions of them regarding their lives either. We just did life together as most high school kids do. Leaving them in the middle of my Jr year was devastating…almost as hard as graduating high school and having my world (friends) scattered all over the world in a matter of weeks. At this point I have lived 23 yrs in my birth country and the rest in my passport country (I’m 38). My best experiences have been like that one. Just doing life with those that it happens naturally. And I find that what’s important not only about my life but theirs comes out when it needs to. Just my thoughts from my experience. I can’t speak for anyone else. Sorry for the novel to those of you who made it this far.

  • Karen Landa

    Wow. Excellent questions. I can totally relate! Born in India, I lived there until my Junior year in high school when our school for MK’s closed and we merged into another of our denomination’s school for MKs in Singapore. Furloughs were tough, and being in Singapore was such a good adjustment buffer between India and the US when we returned permanently and I started college. THAT was tough! I’d been around the globe at least 3 to 4 times, and encountering my age counterparts in the American culture left me stunned and feeling like a true outsider. Seemed like all were concerned only about what kind of car their boyfriend or they were driving and what Sonny and Cher were wearing on their latest show! (OK, that dates me!) It took about 7 to 8 years before I felt submerged in the US culture enough to NOT feel like an outsider–or at least blend in well enough to not stick out like a sore thumb. When people ask me where I’m from, I tell them I’m a Global Nomad, and ask what part of my life they are referring to! I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything–God had a purpose for me to be there most of my life, but that’s what I haven’t figured out yet. I can “see” the ways he used my parents–they were true missionaries–enduring hardships and adjustments that I can’t even imagine and their lives blessed many people. But me? Hmmm. I trust that He had something in mind for me, though I don’t know what it could be. When asked to tell mission stories, I talk about my parents–they truly were. My dear husband struggles to understand the comradery I have with peers who also grew up overseas and are TCK. Some of my deepest friends belong to that group. Thankfully I’ve made deep connections with others who never left US soil as well. But basically, I find many people are curious, but don’t intend to deeply understand TCK. We are a different breed. Thank you for putting this out there. You represent us as TCKs well!!!

  • Todd Grimsted

    So it takes a 17 year old kid, who is wise beyond her years, to put perspective to what an old, now retired MK feels about “home!” As you point out Taylor, I never really think of home as a place, something my wife never understood. Since returning to the states after HS, nearly 50 years ago, I’ve never really had a good answer to “where are you from?” Where I was born? Oregon. Where I grew up? Africa. etc. However,you hit it on the head. “Home” is ambiguous. For me home is where people I love and can relate to are. Family is home. A place? Not so much.
    But we need to talk about the sushi thing! Injera & Wot, now there’s comfort food!

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