You never know where the Lord might take you and what he might do in your life. After 17 years of “the American Dream” my parents’ did not expect to be called to the mission field in Tanzania. But when I, Erin Kemper (Benton), was 12 years old we uprooted and moved to a life I instantly grew to love and embrace. This made the up-root for a college transition to the States even harder. The other day, I sat and watched a movie about children being taken from one culture they know and loved and were dropped into a seemingly foreign land completely different from the one they had spent a majority of their life. I could not help but relate this movie to my childhood as a Missionary Kid (MK) and to every MK and the lifestyle that comes with this calling. I say that this is a calling because I do not believe that God only calls the parents of a family to the mission field when he calls them. I believe that, because he has placed these children in these families, the children are called by God along with their parents as a family unit to serve Him where they leads.
Being an MK myself, being married to an MK, having siblings and best friends that are MK’s and having gone to college with MKs in many different situations in life have all been God’s way of placing a burden and desire on my heart to reach MKs for Him. I have been burdened to minister to them in ways only a “fellow MK” could in regards to understanding, relating, and praying with and for them. In my sophomore year of high school, I began dreaming about one day being able to have a ministry specifically geared towards MKs. This dream which God gave me has begun to take shape. Starting in November, I took on a part-time position through GMI as an avenue to minister to MKs. I am available to plan events, and support, and encourage MKs and their families. It has been a wonderful blessing and I look forward with excitement to see where God takes it.
However, I also want you to know that if you are not an MK you that this does not mean you cannot reach out to and support the children of the missionaries you know. In fact, I want to encourage you to do so. You can reach out to MKs in a number of ways. You may enjoy writing notes, if so, take a moment to write a note of encouragement to one of our MKs. You can pray for them. Pray for strength and a heart that seeks the Lord and his will, for protection, wisdom and faithfulness to the Lord through the many transitions that they go through, their schooling, and big decisions that they have to make with their families. You could take a MK that is Stateside out to ice cream (a special treat to just about any MK I know), send them care packages (if you need ideas feel free to ask me), get to know them as people (not just as MKs) and if you know of a MK give them a little of your time and simply listen to them (taking genuine interest in their lives). They will not bore you.
MKs have a special bond with each other. Ask them and they will tell you that whether they grew up half their lives in Kenya and the other half in Thailand or spent their entire life in Costa Rica there is always a special connection and understanding that goes on in MK relationships. One of the things that MKs love to read together is a list, made into a booklet, that is called, “You Know You’re An MK When…” I wanted to share some of the things from this book with you to help you get a better look into the life of MKs.
If you are an MK, enjoy reading this list and let the memories run free.
You Know You’re An MK When:
1. You can’t answer the questions “Where are you from?”
2. People send you used tea bags in the mail.
3. You know two languages, but cannot spell in either
4. You flew before you could walk.
5. You have a time-zone map.
6. You have a passport but no driver’s license.
7. Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went to..” five times.
8. You prefer a Land Cruiser to a Lexus.
9. Your family sends you peanut butter, chocolate chips, and Kool-Aid for Christmas.
10. You have strong opinions about how to cook bugs.
11. You don’t know where “home” is.
12. Strangers say they can remember you when you were “this tall.”
13. You sort your friends by continent.
14. You dream of a green Christmas.
15. “Where are you from?” has more than one reasonable answer.
16. The nationals say, “Oh, I knew an American once…” and then ask if you know him or her.
17. You are grateful for the speed and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Services.
18. You realize furlough, is not a vacation.
19. You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
20. You’ve Spoken in dozens of churches but aren’t a pastor.
21. You have this deep, sinking feeling that someone, somewhere has that fifth grade, braces and stingy-hair picture of you on their refrigerator.
22. You don’t know whether to write the date m/d/y or d/m/y.
23. You automatically take your shoes off as soon as you get home.
24. You wake up and realize you’re not a foreigner anymore.
25. You wake up one day and realize you really still are a foreigner.