QA 3: My Weird Little MK

Charlene writes: “What is [the mission field] like for Claire? For example: What does she think of America? Does she miss it when you go back to Honduras? How is it for her not seeing her grandparents? Does she ever feel like she is out of place with that blonde hair?”

What great questions! In fact, one of the biggest question marks in my mind, once I surrendered to the mission field, was how this decision would impact my future children. I often joked with my college roommate, “My kids will inevitably be weird and socially awkward…you know how MK’s are!” One happy day, she burst into our dorm room with, “Christine, I met an MK today in chemistry… and she was normal!” I considered conducting a study to understand this fascinating anomaly!

A year before our Claire was born, my dear missionary friend Julie gave me some valuable advice that I’ve considered often since becoming a parent. She told me about a conversation she overheard between her own children and the young daughter of a missionary couple headed to the field. Learning the little girl had just celebrated a birthday, the kids inquired, “What did you get for your birthday?” The girl lamented, “Jesus took away all my birthday presents, because we are going to the mission field.”

Julie went on to say, “Christine, help your kids have the right perspective of God and the mission field. I try to constantly point out to my kids the fun, amazing things we get to do—just because we are missionaries! For example, when we bounce along in the car on the way to a visit, I tell them, ‘Those poor kids that live in the States don’t have cool, bumpy dirt roads like this! They have to wear seatbelts all the time and ride on boring old paved roads!’ My kids are so glad we are missionaries!”

She was exactly right! If my heart is discontent and my spirit negative, Claire will adopt a “poor-me” attitude about our life in Honduras. She’ll go to the US on furlough and see fancy toys, libraries, kids’ museums, fun parks, candy stores; if my response is, “Well, we don’t have things like that, because we’re missionaries (insert mournful sigh),” my daughter will grow up bitter and eventually rebellious. She will resent both God and us for dragging her here and depriving her of a wonderful childhood in the magical land called the United States.

I try to follow Julie’s example and constantly point out to Claire, “Look at that monkey! You know, I never saw a monkey like that till I came here!” or “Let’s go pick some mangoes! Aren’t we lucky to have fruit trees right in our backyard?” She thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world when there’s no running water and she gets to take a bucket bath. And when the electricity goes out, she excitedly grabs her own little flashlight. It’s all about attitude!

She does love going to the States, especially to see family. It’s important for parents who live far away from Grandpa and Grandma to make extra effort to connect their children to family back home. Claire has a “Special People Book,” a small picture album I made when she was little. There are pictures of her being held by Papa, Grandma, Nini, and Papaw, plus aunts and uncles, close family friends, etc. I kept it in the diaper bag when she was younger and often pulled it out while waiting somewhere, “Who is this, Claire? Yes, that’s Aunt Kathleen! Remember when you went to her house and slept in the blue bed? She’s so much fun, isn’t she?” (Look for an article in April: “Ideas for Long-distance Grandchildren” with more practical suggestions for staying in touch.)

As much Claire enjoys her visits to the States, she loves coming home to Honduras. In some ways, she’ll never totally fit in; her blonde hair and pale skin make her the constant subject of cell phone photos wherever we go. But somehow, we have become accustomed to the constant stares. The last time our partners, the Goinses, went on furlough, they told us they walked through the New Orleans airport in wonder: No one is staring at us! No one is trying to pick up our kids! They aren’t even looking at us! We’re normal!

But Honduras is home, and our kids are very happy here. In fact, we all are! Whenever someone pats my shoulder and says in a pitying voice, “I don’t know how you do what you do…” I feel a little guilty. Honestly, I’m not a martyr! I’m having the time of my life! Even with all its hardships, the will of God is the greatest adventure I’ll ever have. I’m so glad my daughter is an MK—what a lucky girl!

OBSERVATION GAME: Can you spot the MK's in the picture below?
Okay, I didn't say it was a hard game!
6 Responses
  1. Gwen Says:

    I'm so thankful that you all are keeping us fresh in Claire's mind. I'm not afraid that she'll forget us, though we don't see her very often. It is truly a blessing that you all are serving the Lord in Honduras!

  2. Kathy Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ricky Says:

    I admit that there are moments I ache for all three of you. It is tougher on some days than others, like Grandparents' Day at church or like your birthday that just went by us. Still, I wouldn't trade places with anyone on earth. Over and over even now, Mom and I talk about how the Lord showed us how to prepare you for leaving home when you were growing up. Many parents hold their children so tightly that they grow up having little faith that God could really take care of them thousands of miles from home. Nothing compares to being in the center of God's will. I love all three of you...even Robbie!

  4. Kathy Says:

    OK. I give up. Couldn't be the little blonde kids...too obvious. WONDERFUL, insightful blog and good parenting advice in general. Your grandmother saw the joy and beauty in life everywhere too. One day in the car with Kimberly she bubbled over about the lovely flowers blooming everywhere. Kimberly piped back, "Oh, Grandma, you think EVERYTHING'S pretty--even those telephone poles!" (They DO look like crosses, symbols of His love!) Great blog. Love you.

  5. Patty Says:

    Christine, you are so right-not just about being on the mission field but teaching your childen to love serving God-and what a joy it is. You are a woman of wisdom and I know your Mom & Dad are proud of you. You make serving on the mission field such a joy and time of excitement. Thanks for sharing your heart. Love ya. Patty Raper

  6. Kimberly Henderson Grainger Says:

    Oh, what a precious, Biblical perspective. John and I decided, long ago, to follow this heritage that we were given. I remember specific times when my folks made an issue that being in ministry was bringing whatever blessing we were enjoying- restaurant visits as gifts, a free week at a mountain condo, LOTS of hand-me-down clothes. They intentionally pointed us toward the positive and downplayed the negative.
    John tells similar stories from his mom's many years teaching K-5 in a Christian school.
    We claim our choice to serve in ministry is due, in part, to our parents' wisdom in showing us the blessings of full-time service.
    What a heritage we pass on to our kids! What a joy to serve the Lord together!
    You're such a blessing, honey!

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