Archive for the ‘Growing Up as a Missionary Kid’ Category

Are Most Americans Superficial?

Friday, July 24th, 2015

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At the risk of ticking off this whole country, I am going to address this issue head-on, from the point of view of a missionary kid—a person who grew up outside of the U.S. but then returned to the U.S to live as an adult.

Before answering this question: “Are most Americans superficial?”– I would like to clear the air and say that some of my closest friends are Americans, and they are not superficial. Those I relate to the most are people who have gone through suffering in their lives and have a real walk with God. These are the exception to the rule, and I married one of them.

I recently offended someone on my Missionary Kid Page when I said that missionary kids that return to the United States are shocked at how superficial Americans are. The Missionary Kid page exists to show how missionary kids perceive the world, not how other people perceive the world. Missionary kids don’t care about being politically correct. Our world view is opposite to most Americans. We’ve never truly belonged to any nation, so there is no reason to pander to anybody.

I have listened to thousands of missionary kids over the years, and here are the real reasons why we perceive Americans as being superficial:

1. Most Americans care about and pursue trivial things.

They love to talk about TV shows, sports, celebrities, and other topics that have no substance. After living in a third-world country my whole life, I perceived that part of the reason is that Americans are pampered because they have way more money than they need to survive. If they don’t, they use their charge cards to pursue the frivolous pampering that they “deserve.”

People in third-world countries are concerned about survival. When you are surrounded by suffering, your conversations are different. The conversations are more relational and less about trivia.

2. The U.S. educational system has churned out brainwashed, mindless idiots.

Ask any random American walking down the street basic information about any topic, and they just don’t know and don’t care. All they want is to be entertained and to stare down at their cell phones, snapping selfies to post to Facebook.

The reading level of this nation has been dumbed down so much that what was previously considered 5th grade reading is now college level. The majority of Americans do not read in their spare time—they watch TV for tens of thousands of hours, which brings us to the next point.

3. Whoever controls the media controls the minds of the U.S. population.

The morals of our nation are eroded as we watch sin and practice sinning over and over in our minds. Pretty soon we are actually committing the sin because we have been de-sensitized to it. Even if we don’t practice the sin ourselves, we allow the sin in the lives of the people around us because it’s so normal to us now.

We can’t perceive the heart of God on major issues because our hearts are so calloused to God because of the media.

The media is controlled by the world. We are told in Scripture to not be a part of the world, but instead we have morphed into the world. American Christians ARE the world.

The U.S. population is like a huge mob. The media can actually CAUSE riots and other problems by brainwashing people to believe lies. Then everyone is in an emotional frenzy, and if you stand against the emotional mob, you risk being killed. That’s because they no longer can think clearly.

That’s just it. Most Americans can’t think independently. Whether they are afraid of public opinion, or whether they have just been told their whole lives by their teachers and the media what the right answer is, who knows?

4. The American church is in a babyish catatonic state.

When talking about the deeper things of the Lord, very few people even understand what we are saying. Their eyes gloss over, and they would rather talk about fashion or what they are doing on Friday. The majority of American Christians do not pursue holiness—they even say that pursuing holiness is a sin because everyone is imperfect. Even if they have unrepented sins, you have to look the other way and not tell them that what they are doing is causing their misery.

I have never been in a third-world church where the native Christians were so apathetic about the things of God. True delight comes from pursuing God full-tilt. I guess if you’re poor, you have less to lose when you give up your life to gain Christ.

So I ask you, do you sense that most Americans are superficial? Does it disturb you? When you mention it, do people get offended and stomp off, like the woman on my Missionary Kid Page?

Missionary Kids and Nostalgia

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

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What’s up with missionary kids and nostalgia?

For some reason, even though I never truly fit in when I was growing up, every time I see Hispanics in the States, I feel like I’m home, like I’m somehow understood. I’ve always been more comfortable around brown-skinned people. That’s because I grew up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, where I lived until I was 18. It shocks Hispanics that I speak fluent Spanish because of my white skin and bright red hair. You should see their expressions! But they are always honored that I know their language, and they always treat me like an insider once they hear my Spanish.

For years I didn’t see a single Hispanic here in Washington state. I finally stopped looking. Two years ago I met a white woman at a park, who said she attended a Hispanic church where the pastor was from–of all places–Guatemala! An American missionary had led him to Christ, and now he was a pastor in Washington state. I said to her, “Are there enough Hispanics to actually make up a church?” Yes. The Hispanic population  had apparently grown while I wasn’t looking. A church that started in this man’s garage had grown to 200 members!

When I first stepped into the Hispanic church, I was transported through time to my childhood. I felt so nostalgic that I had to choke back a lump in my throat. My emotional reaction was so intense that I was overwhelmed. I was happy, but I wanted to sob. I felt like I was home, and I had no idea how much I missed my people. The fact that I hadn’t used Spanish in 20 years hadn’t affected my fluency. There was something about being with these people that brought me back full circle so that I finally felt complete, like part of me wasn’t missing.

Last Christmas the pastor’s wife made some Guatemalan tamales, and she gave me some. As soon as I took a bite, I began weeping. I was alone in my dining room, so there was no point in holding back the tears. These tamales are nothing like the other tamales I’ve had in the States–these were real Guatemalan tamales. I pulled out a bone and laughed. Yes, Guatemalan tamales often have bones from the meat. I laughed and wept and savored every atom of the tamale. When it was gone, I just sat there. I smelled the aroma of the tamale on the empty banana leaf. And I sighed with satisfaction and joy.

 

Keep up with my MK posts by liking my missionary kid page.

Missionary Kids and the Holidays

Monday, December 8th, 2014

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The holidays are a bittersweet time for missionary kids. Growing up, we didn’t see our loved ones on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Instead, we would invite another missionary family over so that there would be lots of people to eat the turkey, giving the illusion that we were surrounded by family. After all, we called all the missionaries “aunt” and “uncle.” They were our only extended family unless we were on furlough.

Christmases on furlough were completely different because you might actually see some extended family members. But you were so busy going from church to church and singing the same songs in front of everybody that furlough was just a spectacle after all. A spectacle punctuated by friendly faces of people who you were supposed to know but didn’t because you never saw them, even though you were blood related.

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And of course, if we had Christmas in the States, we wouldn’t have tamales and fireworks at midnight, and what kind of Christmas is it without those childhood traditions? At least both places had candlelight services, and both had Christmas trees with presents under them.

So Christmas was odd in the States, but in some ways it was way better because we could see Grandma and Grandpa.

To complicate matters, being an international person caused me to move to England my senior year of college. And then I didn’t have enough money to fly home for Christmas, so I spent Christmas in England. I was 21, so the family I spent Christmas with served us white wine with Christmas dinner. It was so bitter that I excused myself from the table to spit it out in the sink. And while I was over the sink, I thought of how Christmas crackers in England reminded me of fireworks in Guatemala, and I felt homesick for a land where I never belonged.

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When I moved back to the States from England, I had happy memories of my year in England, and I wanted to move back. After getting my teaching degree, back I went to teach at an American school in London. And I was happy to pull Christmas crackers and wear paper crowns.

Now that I’m married and have made my own little family in the States, I insist on tamales, fireworks, Christmas crackers, and paper crowns, and I have folded in any traditions my husband wanted. A complicated and strange set of traditions, but it’s the only way I feel home for Christmas.

home-for-ChristmasKeep up with missionary kid posts: like my Missionary Kid Page on Facebook.

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Missionary Kids Have to Be Perfect

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Missionary Kids Have to Be Perfect

It’s stressful when your survival depends on the opinion of others.

Missionary kids have to be perfect. The same is true for preacher’s kids. Why is this the case? And what can we as the church do to keep MK’s and PK’s from abandoning the church altogether because of a suffocating pharisaical standard that is not applicable to anyone else in the church?

It’s because missionary kids and preacher’s kids are held up as an example to the world. The church is watching their every move. The problem is that the child is still growing up, making mistakes, and learning, hopefully drawing closer to God. All of us stumble in our relationship with the Lord, and people in ministry are no different.

A man who is a missionary is required by God to support his wife and children. He must therefore care about the opinions of others, because supporters who disagree with your actions yank their support. If outward alterations in conduct will prevent your family from physically suffering because you don’t have enough money for food and bills, you go ahead and perform to the standard required by the people supplying your income. It’s bad enough to be on a missionary’s salary without supporters yanking the small income you have. Many missions agencies force missionaries to return to the United States if their support levels dip. If God has called you to the mission field, you feel forced to perform a certain way outwardly so that you can continue to obey God’s call on your life.

So what are missionaries or preachers reduced to doing? They put several outward rules in place that are not real. For example, when I grew up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, some Hispanics believed that going to movies was a sin, so we never went to movies. If you compound rule upon rule upon rule, you end up with a needlessly restricted life that is the opposite of the freedom we have in Christ. If we pursue true holiness and love God and others, no other outward rules should be enforced. Only the moral laws of God should matter.

Missionary kids and preacher’s kids have been pinched and glared at more by their parents than ordinary children, because those parents are under tremendous pressure. Church members distort their faces in an ugly way if a child of a preacher or missionary runs through the church sanctuary. Never mind that they give grace to the ordinary child doing the same thing. Ministry kids must have 100% self-control at all times or be punished.

No wonder so many children in ministry rebel against all of it and do the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to do. They feel that maybe they would be able to breathe under freer circumstances. But then they go to the extreme and actually break God’s real moral laws and end up with permanent pain and sorrow. I saw many of my missionary kid friends turn away from God, take drugs, and get pregnant. All because we as the church put them in straight jackets since they were babies.

God has the same standard for all His people. Please stop putting families in ministry on pedestals, and give grace to them.

To keep up with these missionary kid posts, like my Missionary Kid Page.

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