Saturday, June 25, 2016

Missionary Kids Retreat - Hear Their Voices! (Part 2)

If there’s one thing I learned about being a missionary kid from my recent phone interviews during MK Retreat, it’s, “Once an MK, always an MK.” It doesn’t matter how many years it has been since childhood, people who grew up on the mission field always have that special descriptor of MK.

If there’s another thing I learned about being a missionary kid (regardless of age), it’s that MK’s have a special sort of bond the rest of us will probably never grasp. They care deeply for each other and usually feel an instant camaraderie upon meeting.

Rachel: Retreat and Camp Director, at Your Service

Rachel was nine-years-old when she and her family moved to Honduras. Growing up, she never imagined she would stay in Honduras, though she always wanted to be a missionary.

From the time she landed on Honduran soil, until present, Rachel has attended every single MK Camp that has been offered. She first attended as a camper, then as a counselor, and, finally, as director. She knows what it is like to not have friendships outside of those made at camp and her appreciation for her weeks spent at camp is evident. When she got to the point of leadership, as a counselor, she felt deeply gratified. She loved being able to work with the kids. As she said, “It was working with kids like me. Being able to pour into them.” Who better to do the pouring than someone who was, herself, once poured into?

Even when Rachel was planning her wedding in 2013, she was concerned about missing MK Camp. That’s loyalty! As it turned out, that was the one year the camp wasn’t held. By the next year, Rachel had volunteered to step up and serve as director. What would possess her to take on such a level of responsibility? The answer is twofold: 1) She loves and believes in MK Camp, and 2) As much as she loved being a newlywed, with her husband busy with his position in the Air Force, she found herself looking for a worthwhile way to spend her time. In her own words, she “was bored.” What better cure for boredom than taking on a Herculean task that you truly believe in?

That first year, she was surprised by how many kids enrolled. Fortunately, she had the support of her family. As she said, “Working with family can be challenging, but it’s nice because they’re all MKs. It’s gratifying. I have the support to not have to do it all by myself.”

Allen Sowers: Still a Big MK at Heart

Note from Trish: I chose this not-so-great photo of Allen,
 out of all of the pictures I saw from the retreat, because it's
 rare to get a photo of the real Allen. His posed photos tend
 to make him look very serious - almost angry.  I like this
 picture of him enjoying watching kids having fun!
Between the ages of 6 and 16, Allen lived the life of an MK, in the Philippines and Malaysia. For part of that time, his parents were teachers at a boarding school, so Allen knows what it is to be teacher’s pet. He appreciates the opportunities that went along with the sacrifices. In his family, life on the mission field meant taking advantage of opportunities to travel. Although his family didn’t have a lot of money, they traveled whenever they had the chance, resulting in Allen getting a lot of stamps in his passport. He has been to almost fifty countries!

Allen did have a group that cared for him as a kid, filling a void in him like the MK Camp and MK Youth Retreat fill a void in the lives of MKs in Honduras today. When asked why he feels this camp experience is so important for MKs, Allen said, “MKs are asked to make a lot of sacrifices. They didn’t ask to make those sacrifices. They don’t fully belong to either culture. Third culture kids are expected to step up to the plate and be more mature than they really are. Some rise to the challenge. Some rebel against the challenge… A lot of times their grandparents die while they are out of the country. They grow up missing time with cousins. They miss out on a lot of things other kids take for granted.”

He spoke about the unique position of MKs. Very often, families leave the mission field because of a child’s failure to adjust and thrive. Allen wants today’s MKs to know, “We’re at war and the devil is a cheater. One way to make an overseas ministry fail is for the children to be unable to adjust to life on the field. MKs and their families have to be clued in on that. Ministries geared to help MKs help all of the missionary families and their ministries."

Official 2016 MK Youth Retreat photo
San Buenaventura, Honduras

On the surface, MK Retreat and MK Camp don’t seem that different from any stateside church camp. After all, there are crafts, goofy games, some junk food, music, and a speaker. So, what’s different? Allen believes it’s the fellowship that sets it apart. The kids share a special bond, which only they can fully understand.

To Be Continued… Click here for MK Retreat, Part 3! If you missed Part 1, click here!

- posted by Christi

1 comment:

jani said...

I think being an MK is often a lonely existence. I'm so thankful for the camaraderie that these kids are able to experience at MK camp.
Thank you, Rachel for your efforts to make camp happen each year!