The Most Important Part of the Missionary Kid Experience

The question of where I am from has to be the most difficult question to answer when I meet new people.

I’m an MK, missionary kid. I’ve lived in Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and even overseas in Papua New Guinea. I’ve left a little piece of my heart in each of these places, so deciding which to call my “home” is impossible!

And usually when I bring up the fact that I’m an MK, a host of other questions follow, questions that are complicated to answer in a brief get-to-know-you conversation.

The truth is that being an MK is sometimes difficult. We left the States for Papua New Guinea (PNG) when I was fourteen years old. Prior to that, we  moved every 1-2 years, so saying goodbye was a part of life, a part that certainly never got any easier.

The Most Important Thing I Could Tell You About the MK Experience - Growing up as an MK certainly isn't easy.  Missionary Kids face many unique trials that make life both interesting and hard at times.  However, the blessings of the MK experience far outweighed any trials that I experienced in my time as a missionary kid!

When we arrived in PNG, my siblings and I faced other trials, such as beginning at a new school, adjusting to life without modern conveniences, and handling less freedom (mainly for girls, as it wasn’t safe to walk about alone). But the hardest part? The hardest part was living apart from our parents in a family-style dorm.

Moving to a third-world country was hard enough, but add in teenage hormones and it might just be a recipe for disaster. :)

Making new friends at that age is always hard, but it was complicated by the fact that I was once again, the “new girl” in a school full of students who had mostly known each other all of their lives. I felt out of place and alone at first, with my parents only accessibly by short-wave radio.

But by far one of the blessings of being an MK and moving to PNG was that I attended a small, Christian school run by other missionaries. Making friends was a little easier due to the fact that most of us lived together (on the school base), played together (sports like soccer, volleyball, softball, and basketball) and went to class together.

In fact, in my case the blessings of life as an MK far outweighed the trials.

I watched my parents live out their faith in a very practical way. I also lived alongside other godly examples: teachers, dorm parents, coaches, youth leaders, and other missionaries who had devoted themselves to the spread of the gospel.  Seeing their faith in action had a profound impact on me.

Additionally, I made friends who came from all over the world – Canada, Ireland, Australia, PNG, India, England and more – and learned what living in a third world country is really like. I learned a new culture and some of a new language, two in fact!

More importantly, I saw people go hungry, both spiritually and physically, a lesson I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

As an MK, I also experienced quite a bit of adventure. I swam in the ocean and played on an “untouched” beach when our class traveled to a port city. I climbed Mt. Elimbari with my family and made it halfway up Mt. Wilhelm with my class, the highest in the country at an elevation of over 14,000 feet.

The Most Important Thing I Could Tell You About the MK Experience - Mount Elimbari, Papua New Guinea.  Any MK will tell you that missionary kid problems differ from those of other kids.  Being an MK certainly isn't easy, but even though it's difficult the experience of being an MK is full of blessings, as well.

Mount Elimbari, Papua New Guinea

The Most Important Thing I Could Tell You About the MK Experience - Mount Elimbari, Papua New Guinea.  Any MK will tell you that missionary kid problems differ from those of other kids.  Being an MK certainly isn't easy, but even though it's difficult the experience of being an MK is full of blessings, as well.

The Most Important Thing I Could Tell You About the MK Experience - Mount Elimbari, Papua New Guinea.  Any MK will tell you that missionary kid problems differ from those of other kids.  Being an MK certainly isn't easy, but even though it's difficult the experience of being an MK is full of blessings, as well.

I jumped from a two-story cliff into a pool of water at Keia Falls, multiple times. I hiked in the “bush,” ate fresh tropical fruit, and attended many “mumus,” feasts cooked in a large pit in the ground filled with pork or chicken, sweet potatoes of all varieties, greens, and sometimes corn, my favorite.

During school breaks, I spent time in the tribe with my parents in our bush house – a small house of woven bamboo and pit-pit (a smaller reed) with a tin roof, up on stilts, on the side of a red-clay mountain range. The view was to die for! :)

Sometimes I really miss living in PNG. Life there was quieter and slower-paced. We spent little time watching our tiny tv on batter power. We spent much time outdoors, enjoying the beautiful landscape. We played a lot of board games, even by kerosene lantern, and ate a lot of stove-popped popcorn.

Certainly the most important thing I could tell you about being an MK is that I wouldn’t choose any differently, in spite of the tough times.

Because the best blessing I received during those years was better than every good opportunity I listed above.

The best blessing was an opportunity to grow near to the Lord.

During those years in PNG, my faith became real and personal to me. The Lord removed all of my comforts, everything I leaned on (including my parents), to bring me into a deeper walk with Himself. At times, He even removed my very health. But it wasn’t for naught. There was purpose in even the most painful trials.

He pursued me, all the way to Papua New Guinea and back.

He pursues me still.

So maybe the best answer to “Where are you from?” is to simply say:
I’m an MK, so I’m from all over the place!
I don’t have just one home; I have many.
But I know Who I belong to.
And He’s been faithful all along the way!

“Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”  Psalm 36:5

Jen :)

This post has been published in The Missional Handbook by Rosilind Jukic.  If you have any interest in missions, this book contains a wealth of information from a variety of perspectives (affiliate link).

Sharing with: The Loft, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth

What Makes a Missionary?

I recently finished reading Rosilind Jukic’s new release The Missional Handbook, a handy guide for those considering a missionary lifestyle and even those simply interested in missions work.  In it, the author addresses a key question that is often misunderstood: what makes someone a missionary?

from Missional Call

 

I remember struggling with this question in my early years of college, when I was searching for God’s plan for my life.      After my years spent as an MK (missionary kid) on the field of Papua New Guinea, I knew the urgent need for career missionaries and I felt a real burden for unreached people groups.  So, of course, I assumed I would be an overseas missionary someday. :)

Oh, how the Lord has a way of changing our best-laid plans!  Once I met my husband, I began to consider a different ministry, that of pastor’s wife.  Even before we married, I wholeheartedly embraced the role of youth leader and helpmeet to my husband, who was a young youth minister.  I found purpose and contentment in this role.

But then our first child came along and I was no longer as free to be involved with my husband’s ministry. Life became busy and more complicated, as it usually does after children. :)  Suddenly, the role I thought I was meant for had to be put aside while I focused on raising our son.  I began to feel like a bit of a failure since I wasn’t “serving the Lord” in the way I thought I should be, one of many undesired sacrifices I offered up in my attempt to earn the approval He freely gives!

Fast forward a year or two and we decided to take an extended break from full-time ministry.  We had marital issues that needed tending to, as well as wounds from the past we both needed to deal with.  It was a difficult time for both of us as we often felt like failures.  We questioned God’s path for us, for our future.

It took me a few years, but slowly I began to learn the truth that Rosilind Jukic shares in The Missional Handbook – we can and should minister right where we are! We should all be involved in missionary work, whether it be in our homes, on our streets, in our churches, or overseas.  Eventually, I began to see that mothering itself is a ministry, a mission field of sorts – we should be missionaries first in our own homes to the young minds we have been entrusted with!

from Missional Call

So, if you are ever tempted to think, I’m just a mom – what can I possibly do?, recognize that as the voice of the Great Deceiver.  He likes us to believe that ministry work only “counts” if titles and positions like missionary or pastor are involved.  He likes to make investing in others more about us and  less about Christ.  He wants us apathetic and discouraged and feeling like failures.  Because then we are paralyzed to do the work God has set before us.

If you desire to reach others with the Good News, begin right where you are!

Ask the Lord to show you those He has put in your path.  Ask Him to bring you someone to mentor or disciple (and then be ready for a possibly surprising answer!).  Or perhaps you are mother to young children?  Begin right there in your home. Be intentional about teaching your children biblical truth (don’t just leave it to the church).  Be intentional about teaching them the importance of missions, too!

It’s never too late to start being a missionary.

In fact, you probably already are one whether you realize it or not. :)

For more information on modern missions work, be sure to check out Rosilind’s new book, The Missional Handbook    (buy before Wednesday when the sale ends!)

The Missional Handbook available now!

In this book, you’ll find first-hand experiences of missionaries entering overseas fields and tips for potential missionaries.  You’ll also find Jukic’s  unique ideas on how missions work needs to be modernized to be more effective, and practical ways that readers can become more missions-minded right in their own countries.  I especially enjoyed her section on “uncommon” missionaries, the question and answer section, and the personal accounts she includes in the bonus section of her book.  You’ll even find a short story from me and one from another MK!

So, be a missionary every da-ay! (Anyone else know that song??)

Jen :)

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy our Much Ado About Missions series – practical resources and methods for teaching children the importance of reaching the unreached.

I may be sharing this with any of these lovely blogs and here:

A Little R &R, Missional Call, Cornerstone Confessions, A Mama’s Story, My Joy-filled Life,

Finding Heaven Today, Wholehearted Home

 

 

That New Girl: Finding Confidence

Sometimes I wish I could go back to my second-grade self, that girl who was mostly tomboy, confident leader-of-the-pack. She could be friends with whomever she wanted, even boys. She wore dresses, but she also climbed trees.

She lived free.

She never considered what the scales said about her value.  She never wished to be more like her blonde-headed friend.  She had a little girl crush on a classmate of hers, but never spent her days waiting for him to notice, or worrying what others might think.

She was relatively innocent, that girl God created on purpose and with a plan.

But that girl moved from state to state nearly every year after third grade until she finally moved overseas.  Each new school left its mark, some beauty spots and some ugly scars, and she found herself wearing labels like “new girl” and “missionary kid.”

For a while, she learned to hide her true self away in favor of a girl others would accept. She lost her identity, her self-confidence.

Life has a way of changing our identity, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. As Christians, we know there is only way to find confidence that truly lasts!  Here's how e to become a Christ-confident woman.     Christian women, confidence in Christ, identity in Christ, finding identity in Christ, devotional thought, Christian encouragement

 

I’ve spent much of my adult life learning to force that girl out into the light, trying to help her find the woman she was created to be.  In the process, I’ve searched for her value in family and friendships, marriage and parenthood, status in college and sometimes status at church, often without realizing I was doing so.

On occasion, I’ve even tried to manufacture that girl’s value on my own by living the good girl life, raising the good kids, serving at the good church, creating good things, and so many more undesired, unnecessary sacrifices that we’re all guilty of performing.

But I fail so often, don’t you?

And once again, the Father has to remind me that the confidence I’m searching for really can’t be found in others or in self. If I want to be completely free of others’ expectations and my own perfectionism, to live confident, I must look only to my Maker.

He alone knows the “real” me, the girl he “knit together” in the womb.  The girl He calls “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  The girl He values at the price of a one and only Son. The girl I was born to be.

Life has a way of changing who we are, our identity, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. As Christians, we must learn where our true identity lies. It's the only way to find confidence that truly lasts!  Here's how to change your perspective on who you are so you can become a Christ-confident woman.

He alone knows the attention to detail that often leads to the pit of perfectionism can also be a gift of organization and precision.  He alone knows the smiling face often hides a fragile heart, but a heart that easily lends itself to sympathy for others.  He alone knows that tendency to boss comes from the ability to lead and that often critical voice reveals undaunted optimism.

And so many other flaws that I find so obvious in myself, He has ultimately meant for my good.

You see, we don’t serve a God who creates mistakes, sisters.

And even though sin and Satan have corrupted us, I’m convinced He truly purposed those “flaws” for good.

So how do we overcome the lies we’ve listened to for so long to reclaim our true selves, the free girls we were created to be?

                  How do we reclaim confidence that lasts?

We look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith!

He shows us our true value: the blood of the Lamb.  We trust in Philippians 1:6 which claims He began a work in us that He promises to carry until completion.

Sin temporarily hijacks our child-of-God identity, the world teaches us that we will never be enough, and the pride and insecurity of self often confirm the lies. 

But the truth, sisters, the amazing truth is that we don’t have to be enough because He is already everything for us. It’s this Christ-confidence that sets us free!

Life has a way of changing who we are, our identity, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. As Christians, we must learn where our true identity lies. It's the only way to find confidence that truly lasts!  Here's how to change your perspective on who you are so you can become a Christ-confident woman.

With Christ’s help a better version of that true-to-self, second-grade girl is surfacing.

I catch glimpses of her from time to time, that new-in-Christ girl. She speaks up even when the voices inside tell her to avoid the risk.

She combats those lies with the truth of the Word.

She claims victory in imperfect progress.

She is Christ-confident.

She’s learning little by little to tune out the world, the Enemy, and even her own perfectionistic thoughts and focus instead on the Maker who continually makes her new.

Because she was born to live free.

And so were you, my sisters.

So were you!

Jen :)

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.

 Life has a way of changing who we are, our identity, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. As Christians, we must learn where our true identity lies. It's the only way to find confidence that truly lasts!  Here's how to change your perspective on who you are so you can become a Christ-confident woman.

 

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly (Approval)

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This (Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up video at Arabah Joy’s place

 

Sharing with: My Freshly Brewed Life, Missional Women, Christian Mommy Blogger,

Essential Thing DevotionsWomen of Worship, Mom’s the Word, Cornerstone Confessions,

Time Warp Wife, Rich Faith Rising, Messy Marriage, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Wholehearted Home, Grace and Truth, Tell It To Me Tuesdays

 

 

Missionary Kid

Today I’m honored to be guest posting for a series on Missions (Answer the Call) over at A Little R &R!  Rosilind asked me to write on what it’s like to be an MK. It was probably one of the more difficult posts I’ve written because it brought up so many different emotions!  Here’s a little snippet from the beginning of the post:

The question of where I am from has to be the most difficult question to answer when I meet new people. I’m an MK, missionary kid. I’ve lived in Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and even overseas in Papua New Guinea. I’ve left a little piece of my heart in each of these places, so deciding which to call my “home” is impossible!

The truth is that being an MK is sometimes difficult…

To read more, hop on over to Rosilind’s blog here.

“Stori” PNG-style

It’s that time of week again – Five Minute Friday.  Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a one-word prompt and we write for five minutes without pressure, just for the joy of writing.  Why don’t you join us here?

This week’s word is Story.

Image

Some words are like smells. They evoke memories from times past, some with smiles, some with sadness, and some a bittersweet mixture of the two.

Story is one such word for me.  It takes me back to that half-island home of Papua New Guinea (PNG), back to our bush house of woven bamboo up on stilts on the side of a clay mountain.  Nights of rain on a tin roof lulling us to sleep.  Chilly mornings of woodsmoke and toast made in the woodstove.  Because the word story is “stori” in tok pisin, the pidgin trade language of PNG.

But in tok pisin, the word stori carries with it various nuances.  It can mean a simple story, but it can also be used in the vernacular as somewhat of a verb (in my limited understanding).  You can stori with another person, communicate with them, swap information through the act of story-telling. So to my MK self, stori means more than just a tale; it’s sharing verbally with someone else either for the purpose of making friends or for the purpose of learning.

And I think I rather like the word stori better than our English word because that’s what stories are truly for.  They don’t exist merely for entertainment, although many are entertaining, but they exist for a purpose, to teach us something, to impart some new truth, to open our eyes to a new understanding.

So, I would rather stori with someone than story at them.  I don’t want my words to be things I just throw out there willy-nilly.  I want them to serve a purpose.

I’ve always been in love with words, with stories, with learning new truth.  And now, as a new blogger, I’m learning to be in love with stori, with sharing not just for the sake of sharing or telling for the sake of telling, but for the purpose of learning.

About others.

About self.

Even about the greatest Story-teller ever.

His story. My story. Together they become part of my stori with others.

Yes, I like this stori.

Jen :)

Similar posts:
http://ourwrightingpad.blogspot.com/2013/08/five-minute-friday-story.html

Much Ado about Missions: Week One Wrap-up

Image

We have the final post in our Much Ado about Missions blog-hop live now, so I thought I would put all of the posts together here on a summary page for easy access.  If you are new to the blog-hop, please be sure to start with the introduction.  It contains important information that all believers should be aware of, and it explains the heart behind this blog-hop. :)

Much Ado about Missions Week One:

Introduction – they why behind it all

8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home

The Missional M&Ms

Teaching Missions with Crafts

In week two, we’ll be discussing ideas for experiencing missions and serving outside of the home, so stay tuned!  Monday’s post can be found at Being Confident of this, Wednesday’s post can be found at  Love Notes, and Friday’s post at  My Four Monkeys.

Thank you for joining us in making missions a priority!

Jen :)

Much Ado about Missions Series

Since I spent the majority of my growing up years as an MK (missionary kid), global missions is a subject close to my heart.

But lately, I’ve been plagued by questions of Am I doing enough? and What else can I do?

So what’s the big deal about global missions anyway?  We’re all called to be missionaries where we live, right?  Yes, we should be sharing the gospel in our homes, with our neighbors and co-workers, and so forth as is commanded in scripture.

The big deal about global missions is that nearly one-third of the world’s total population remains unreached, meaning these people have had little to no opportunity to hear the message of salvation!  These people groups often live in fear of evil spirits or gods and sometimes even participate in horrors like witch-burnings and ritual killings out of those fears.  Some are trapped by societal boundaries of caste systems or governmental boundaries such as communism.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Join us for a series on teaching missions at home for parents, teachers, children's ministers, sunday school teachers, etc.

While we here in America are blessed to find churches on many street corners and  bibles not only in our own language, but also in a plethora of translations, our overseas friends are not.

Even driving down the highway, we often see crosses or billboards proclaiming God’s truth.  And with the rise of the Internet, the possibilities are further increased!  Those unsaved relatives, friends, and neighbors might not know Jesus personally, but most of them at least know of Him.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes! Source of info: The Joshua Project

But for a tribal man, woman, or child in an unreached location, the gospel message is simply not present. By some estimates, the ratio of American churches to unreached people groups  is 140:1.

One hundred forty American churches for every one group of people still waiting to hear the Good News! Are you as surprised by that number as I am?

As a minister’s wife, I know the unsaved are with us here too, but the need for these unreached people groups is even more urgent yet often more easily ignored.

They have no neighbors who believe, no Bibles to read, no billboards, no Internet, no gospel tracts, no revivals, no churches, no outreach ministries… nothing to connect them with life-giving Good News!

We have a responsibility as Christ-followers  to reach out to the unsaved on all levels – within our families, our local communities, our countries, and yes, even our world! Let’s not forget our overseas brothers and sisters who are without hope.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

We must be involved with global missions in some way (even if we can’t physically go ourselves), and we must teach our children the importance of reaching the unreached, whether they live nearby or  halfway around the world. Not to be “good” Christians or to pat ourselves on the back but because…

People.

 are.

 dying.  

without ever having even a single opportunity to hear of the Father’s great love for us, without a chance to experience true freedom.

Please take a moment to view this powerful message from the Joshua Project. I promise it will be worth your time! Be sure to watch it to the very end – the last few seconds are important.

You Should Know (English) Video by MUP.ORG from Mustang International on Vimeo.

So, what can we do?  We may not all be able to go at this point in time, so how can we reach out beyond what is comfortable to us? How can we foster a missions mindset in our homes?  I’ll be honest with you that I struggle with these questions.   What exactly does the Lord require of me and our family in regards to missions?

I don’t have all of the answers, even for myself.  My husband is a pastor and much of our “missions” work occurs right here in our neighborhood, but I am convinced that I must not forget that there is a world of dying, unreached people out there, as well.

I hope this bloghop series will answer at the least a few of those questions for us and for you, our readers.

Why is global missions so crucial? And what can we do to further the spread of the gospel to unreached people groups? We can start right in our own homes!

In addition to my own posts, I’m very blessed to have two other bloggers join me in this missions series, as we attempt to answer some of these questions.

           My sister Sarah, from Love Notes,  not only grew up on the mission field, she also elected to return to PNG  (Papua New Guinea) for a while during her single years.  Currently, she and her minister husband serve at a church in Ohio, as well as at the local city mission.

     My blog-savvy cousin Angie, from My Four Monkeys, is a homeschooling mama of four.  Angie writes all over the web for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys, as well as on her own blog.  She also serves faithfully in her local church, alongside her husband.

We are excited to share with you some amazing materials and methods for teaching missions in your home or in your church, as well as ways to experience missions as a family, and even ways to pray specifically for the most unreached people groups of the world.

The first post, 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home, is live now!

Jen :)

For more statistics on why the need is so great, read here:

http://writtenreality.com/209-million-is-a-very-big-number/

http://weheartnepal.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/life-in-the-fll-why-we-do-what-we-do-part-2/

Five Minute Friday: View

Today I’m trying something new!  Another blogger has challenged us to participate in Five Minute Fridays – we’ll spend only 5 minutes writing on a word prompt that she gives us.  No editing, no grammar checking, no revising.  Just creativity. So, here goes!

 

View

 

I once lived in a land with breath-taking views.  Papua New Guinea, with bright tropical foliage filling the valleys, and the valleys ringed by tall mountains with a beauty of their own.  Our tribal home sat perched on the side of one of these mountains, up on stilts with our hammocks hanging beneath.

 

PNG house

 

I loved to sit in my hammock and look out at the blue sky that seemed so much brighter at that elevation and across to the mountain range on the other side of the valley below.  Some mornings, thick, white clouds filled the valley as if a blanket of white cotton was laid out for us.  So much beauty from the hand of our Creator!

hammocks under png house

 

Today the views that grace my landscape are not quite so spectacular.  Our small town has its own form of quaint beauty, and the surrounding corn and soybean fields have theirs.  Still, I miss New Guinea and the way in which the physical beauty of our mountain home brought me closer to my Creator.  It was as if His presence was always evidenced before me, less easy to ignore.

 

But my Creator is so quick to remind me that my view has so much to do with perspective.  I may no longer be surrounded by majestic mountains, wild-growing poinsettia trees, and grass-topped huts scattered among the dense green bush, but I’m surrounded by beautiful people.  The man in my life who is quick to help anyone in need.  The four-year-old twins who frolic together in the backyard.  The seven-year-old with the impish grin on his face, no doubt planning some new mischief.  The thirteen year old with his gentle smile and willing spirit.

 

me and kids

 

Yes, my view is good.

Jen :)