Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series about life as a Seventh-day Adventist missionary child. Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5.
As a missionary kid, you have random skills, knowledge, or experience that others may not have.
And you wonder why they don’t.
You may be a missionary kid if …
1. You can reliably identify foreign accents and often get the country of origin correct.
2. You know to walk very slowly on the newly cleaned terrazzo floor of the new church.
The bump on the back of your head still isn't completely gone from the first time you didn't realize that water on a terrazzo is slicker than oil on ice. Your first indication of such was the loud smack your head made against the wet floor.
3. You can convert from miles to kilometers and Fahrenheit to Celsius and you wonder why the world can’t just use metric.
4. You cross the number 7 when writing it because otherwise to some people it may look like the number 1.
5. The clothes in your closet can only handle two seasons: wet and dry.
You know better than to ram your foot into the rubber boots left at the door without first shaking them out because there is likely a baby garter snake or frog in the bottom.
Some things you only learn the hard way, and let’s just say the neighbors had reason to laugh at you last time.
6. It’s possible to sleep comfortably in a hammock all night long.
7. You think it’s normal as a young child to scare off a thief picking at the front door lock by coughing hard from the security of your bedroom.
That way the thief will know that someone is home and hopefully go away.
8. You have normal pets like a dog and a bird, but you have also had rabbits, sloths, monkeys, and raccoons.
9. As a kid, going to the big city was an adventure.
You made purchases for half the campus, stocked up on food, and took music lessons. It took you two hours or more to get there, even though it was only 47 miles (75 kilometers) away. But that was fine because you had time to play car games like “I Spy,” the alphabet license tag game, read a book, or visit with the neighbor kid who came along.
10. While waiting for said music lessons, you made arrangements with a nearby hotel to let you swim for an hour, a treat whose value can’t be overestimated.
11. When it’s hot in the big city, you buy a snow cone and don’t put any flavors on it because the ice isn’t clean and you won’t be eating it. However, it sure does cool you off when you rub your face with it and dump some down the front and back of your shirt.
12. It’s normal to never go anywhere without your water bottle strapped around your neck or shoulder.
13. You are an expert tree climber and you know you’d better not climb a guava tree again after a rainstorm. Shall we just say that losing your footing and landing on a branch as if you are riding a horse is not a pleasant experience no matter your gender.
14. As an adult, you go on a mission trip to the other side of the world and can’t understand why those Americans (wait … you’re an American, too) are so horrified at squatty potties.
Granted they aren’t that great, but it’s not that different from having to use natural facilities while camping as a Pathfinder more times than you can count. However, having to use a bidet for the first time was a very cold and startling experience.
15. You learn how to spell difficult words in English by sounding them out in your mission field language.
You wonder with some disgust, for the millionth time, why English can’t just be a phonetical language.
16. You know that wallets always go in the front pocket and wonder why silly Americans wear them in the hip pocket.
17. You find yourself in the United States wondering whether it’s appropriate to hug someone when meeting.
But one thing you do know: Never kiss a stranger or even good friends on the cheek, or they will look at you strangely for weeks.
Karen Taylor Glassford was born to U.S. missionary parents in Puerto Rico and grew up in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Honduras. As an adult she has lived in South Korea and Guatemala and gone on many short-term mission trips, most recently to Rwanda in May 2016. She currently works at Institute of World Mission at the General Conference.
You May Be a Missionary Kid If … Food keeps you talking for hours
You May Be a Missionary Kid If … Traveling thrills you
You May Be a Missionary Kid If … You can’t say where you are from
You May Be a Missionary Kid If … You have an unusual knowledge about medical matters
You May Be a Missionary Kid If … You see God’s hand in a special way