Monday, November 15, 2010

You Might Be a Missionary Kid If...

Missionary Kids (MK's) are unique! If you are an MK, you know that. If you have ever known an MK, you undoubtedly know it too! Without even trying, their life is just different from the norm. Some people seem to pity Missionary Kids for all the things they have supposedly given up. Yes, it is true that they give up some things when they leave America and go to live in a foreign land, but don't feel sorry for them! Missionary Kids have a life of adventure about which most kids can only dream. 

A few years ago I was introduced to a hilarious article called "You Might Be A Missionary Kid If..." I have since read many versions of this article in books, websites, and emails. I really don't know who came up with the very first one, but obviously many people have added their own wit and wisdom to the list over time. I want to share some of our favorites in the first half of this article. But even if you have already read these somewhere else, you need to read on to the end. Why? Because Angela and I (with a little input from the kids) have come up with our very own list of how to know if you are a Missionary Kid.

But first...some wisdom gleaned from others who know and love MK's.

You might be a missionary kid if...

1. You flew before you could walk.

2. At 20 years old you have a passport, but no driver's license.

3. You watch a documentary on National Geographic and recognize someone.

4. You get homesick while watching National Geographic.

5. You watch a documentary on the Animal Channel and think how good that would be stir-fried.

6. You shake your shoes out before putting them on.

7. You're only 7 years of age, but speak with authority about the quality of airline travel.

8. People send you packets of Kool-Aid for your birthday.

9. You have friends from or in 29 different countries.

10. You tell people where you're from and their eyes get big.

11. The nationals say things like, "I used to know an American..." then ask if you know the guy.

12. Your mother gets excited over finding Doritoes at 7/11.

13. You stockpile mangoes.

14. You go to school in a Cessna rather than a school bus.

15. Your dad scolds you in Swahili when you are on furlough.

16. While you were on furlough, your dad preached a sermon on Joseph, and he called him Yusufu the entire time.

17. You go on furlough, and your mom buys everything in the store.

18. Your family gathers around the computer to check email.

19. Your first trip driving through town on furlough was a disaster, because you honked your horn continuously.

20. You're in college now, but the stringy hair and braces picture taken while you were in the 5th grade is still gracing refrigerators all across America.

21. Your 5 foot tall mother is taller than most of the members in your church.

22. At your yard sale, the 80 year-old man next door buys your mother's culottes...and wears them!

23. When you find a bug in your food, you calmly pick it out and finish eating.

24. You know more about a blow gun than a BB gun.

25. When on furlough, your cousin shows you his pet frog and you get hungry.

26. It does not seem unusual to you to buy dinner while sitting at a red light.

27. Going to the post office is the highlight of your day.

28. Your father stops 8 times on the way to church to pick up 19 people in his 12 passenger van.

29. When you are asked to recite the alphabet you ask, "Which one?"

30. You have strong opinions about how to cook bugs.

31. You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.

32. Someone brings up a certain sports team, and you get the sport wrong.

33. You refer to gravel roads as highways.

34. Someone in your home country has to explain to you that the double yellow line means that only oncoming traffic can drive on that side of the road...EVEN if there is no oncoming traffic...and you don't get it.

35. Someone in your home country has to explain to you that the red light means stop...every time...even if there is a slight break in the cross traffic...and you have to stay stopped 'til the light turns green...and you don't get it.

36. Someone in your home country has to explain to you that you can't just give the policeman a dollar after committing some infraction...and you still don't get it.

37. Your friends accuse you of being a maniacal driver, but you're driving exactly as your dad taught you.

38. You go to Taco Bell and have to put 5 packets of hot sauce on your taco...and it's still a little bland.

39. You go off to college, and your study of minor keys in music theory makes you homesick.

40. You won't eat Uncle Ben's rice, because it doesn't stick together.

Now, for part two. The rest of these were written by our family, with much hilarious laughter. Everything you read below has actually happened, except for numbers 6 and 7.

1. You don't know how to work a seatbelt.

2. When you go on furlough, your grandma turns on the vacuum cleaner and you run from the room screaming in terror.

3. When you go on furlough, you have to have relatives meet you at the airport with shoes and socks.

4. When you go on furlough, the self-flushing toilets at Walmart cause your heart to skip a beat.

5. When you go on furlough, the automatic doors at the grocery store entertain you for hours.

6. You go to America and wonder why nobody is carrying anything on their head.

7. Every member of your family carries a can of raid in a holster.

8. Your mom takes a can of raid to an outdoor wedding.

9. You are driving down the road, hit a large pothole, and the door falls off your van.

10. You had to go to another country just to be born.

11. Your family's Christmas Eve tradition is to sleep in the room that has the air-conditioner.

12. You tell people you live in Cambodia, and they say, "Isn't that in Africa?"

13. You tell people you live in Cambodia, and they say, "How long does it take to drive there?"

14. You are more proficient in counting Khmer riel than US dollars and cents.

15. When you are on furlough, you or any one of your siblings could step into the pulpit and finish your dad's sermon because you know it by heart.

16. You are not an accomplished singer or musician, but have played or sung in dozens of churches.

17. Someone who does not realize you speak their language starts saying really mean things about you right in front of you.

18. You start asking your dad to buy you a jacket, because it is 70 degrees outside.

19. When you are on furlough, your dad slows down and looks both ways at every intersection...even when the light is green.

20. You see someone 8 blocks from your house wearing something you just threw in the trash 15 minutes ago.


  1. Great and entertaining article! So true!

  2. Oh true! I counted up at least 10 things that could apply to us personally. Then of coure, we have some of our own. Like when the kids just stared at all the green grass and flowers on our first furlough. Or when the kids met a visitor from the states and whispered..."they speak English". (that was when they were much younger)
    Very interesting to think of missionary kids all over the world and how differently different things affect each of them.

  3. This one is great: "When you are on furlough, your dad slows down and looks both ways at every intersection...even when the light is green."

  4. Can relate to many of these!

  5. Funny! Every missionary family can create their own unique list-one of my friends has kids who know how many endangered species taste.
    My kids used to play "border guard" where they would line up in front of the guard, who ask for their papers and interrogate them a little, and then let them pass.
    They used to think stop and go traffic was "the border", as a result of living in Tijuana.

  6. I can think of a few from our experience too.

    When your eight-year-old comes home from school on furlough and says "The kids laughed at me because I did not know what jay-walking is"

    When in the last days of our first term, as we head to the city to leave the country, your eight-year-old suddenly exclaims "Dad, look, that car in front of us has a flashing light!" (signal light)

  7. Funny. Our two memorable ones were when our daughter came back for furlough and tried to play hide and seek with her friends at church and didn't know what to do when the other kids started counting or ran and hid. :) Then our boys were totally fascinated by the water fountain in the lobby of our church on our last furlough. :)
    Dee Dee Sterling

  8. It was so fun to laugh and understand all you are saying!! Our Kids are so special aren't they??

    Sharon Shull

  9. The only American my brother knew (at one point in his young life) were missionaries. We were at a restaurant one day and there were some tourist at an adjacent table. They were unlike any American he had known before which caused him to exclaim loudly "Mom, I didn't know Americans drank beer!"

  10. lolol! Yes, we identify with many of these as well. A few others..
    Forgetting your shoes when going to church is no cause for concern.
    Your first meal at a fast food restaurant when stateside, one of the kids asks an employee if they want the cups back to wash the them!
    You invite the geckos inside the house.
    You burn your hands every time you turn on the tap, not realizing it has hot water.
    Suddenly, one bathroom isn't enough! (for those that wonder, many mission fields use European style bathrooms, where the shower and toilet are in separate rooms, so one can be in the toilet, one in the shower, and one at the sink at the same time!)
    Oh, so many more funny things, but not enough time...thanks for the chuckle! It would make a great book...Jane

  11. Such an interesting item. We are so spolied in America with plenty of everything for those who can afford to buy it. Most of the MK's who have visited our church while on furlough, are all so homesick and can't wait to return to their various foreign fields. I would imagine the plenteousness of everything and and the cultural differences, are at times quite overwhelming to them. What a lovely family of MK's are the Benefields children, and mighty talented already at such a young age. Thank you Stephen and Angela for this delightful picture of your children's lives on the mission field. MC

  12. I loved it. I related with basically everything but the furlough stuff because I have never actually been on one yet, and I am 13.