As a missionary kid, sometimes what you learn about the world is fascinating but not necessarily timely.
Sometimes what seems important to you isn’t even on the radar of your friends in your home country — in my case, the United States.
In short: Your thinking doesn’t quite align with that of your peers back at home.
You may be a missionary kid if …
1. You watch the Olympics via VHS cassette months after the Games took place.
You cheer and sigh when your national team wins or loses, as if the outcome hadn’t already been decided months earlier.
2. You don't understand why people are so in-tune with movie or sports stars.
But you get super excited to go to a General Conference Session, especially when you actually see an editor of the Adventist Review or the Junior Guide walk past you! If he or she talks to you, your year is officially made.
3. One of the best emotional memories in the world happens during General Conference Session when you hear tens of thousands of people belt out a well-known hymn such as “Lift up the Trumpet” or “We Have This Hope” in at least 50 languages around you.
4. You get to meet Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue from Your Story Hour.
You know you’ve met someone really famous.
5. Your home-schooling reader may have been printed long before you were born.
But as a first grader you hope that you might meet Mike, Pam, and Penny or Dick, Jane, and Sally, Spot the dog, and Puff the cat when you go to the United States on furlough.
6. Upon landing in the United States on furlough, you are temporarily puzzled by the billboards that say absolute nonsense.
Then until you snap out of it and realize the that billboards are written in English!
7. You move back to the United States and the teacher asks a rhetorical question about Independence Day.
You blurt out how you can't wait for Sept. 15 to arrive. Then you abruptly change the date to July 4 as your classmates look at you like you’re from Mars.
8. You know hymns from Christ in Song.
Later in the United States, classmates dub you as old fashioned. How were you supposed to know that those tattered hymn books that your grandparents brought on a visit weren’t just worn out from being packed and unpacked from many a move? No one told you that they were published in 1900!
9. You go home on furlough at the age of 4 and excitedly announce in church that the pastor must be very happy because many people from a certain Sunday-keeping denomination are in attendance.
Your mom looks at you with a puzzled expression and asks, “Why you think that?” You loudly proclaim that all people wearing jewelry of any kind are obviously from that denomination and there were quite a few in church that day. Your mom can’t shush you fast enough.
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.