Right before Thanksgiving we had the privilege of attending a team retreat for a nearby MTW team to hang out with their middle and high school students. We got a few days away in nature, adventures at a zoo, and quality time with some really cool missionary kids playing games and hearing their stories. Each student shared their life story using collages that they made from magazine cutouts and drawings which led to some awesome metaphors to express their experiences. Two in particular stood out to us:
Moving to Japan was like….
1. …being a baby. You’ve left behind the warm comforts of “home.” You have new needs and you have no idea how to meet those needs or how to express to others how to help you. You have to learn to communicate again. Everything is new – which can be really thrilling and terrifying at the same time.
2. …being a new student driver. In Japan the custom for new drivers is to put this magnetic marker on the front and back of your car. It sends the message to all drivers around you “I’m a novice and have no idea what I’m doing.” Living in a new country can be a lot like walking around with this sticker on your forehead. “I’m new, I have no idea what’s going on, I’m breaking tons of cultural rules most of which I don’t even know I’m breaking!” You stick out to everyone around you even when you’re trying to blend in with all of the other cars.
I’m always amazed at how our students can articulate their emotions so well. I think they speak for us and most of our friends who have moved abroad. Maybe you can relate to these feelings.
Would you take a minute and pray for our missionaries and our missionary kids all over the world. Especially those who are spending their first Christmas abroad, still adjusting to the new culture around them, and maybe struggling as “infants” trying to express their needs or “student drivers” trying to learn the cultural rules around them?