Category Archives: MK’s (missionary kids)

MK Essay – Votes Needed!

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We missionaries fiercely band together to root each others’ kids onward to success and victory.

I’m writing this post and sharing the essay below for that precise reason: to help  a missionary kid in Europe win a scholarship.

I voted for him and ask you to do the same. The link to vote is below his essay.

But treat yourself while you’re at it…by reading the essay! Not only is he a good writer, you’ll get a glimpse of M.K. life from his perspective, both the challenges and the triumphs.

And when you’re done reading and voting, pause and pray for him and for missionary kids around the world.

Because they are awesome!

 

My name is Stephen Gracza and I am a American missionary kid living in Budapest, Hungary where I was born. I have been integrated into the Hungarian cultural and educational systems since Kindergarten. At home I speak English with my family, but everywhere else I communicate in Hungarian.

Growing up overseas has enriched my life in many ways. Being bilingual since childhood has enabled me to live in two cultures at the same time, American and Hungarian. Europe is made up of many different cultures and traditions. Most European countries share a border with at least three or four other countries, which impacts their individual countries and communities. Due to the number of languages spoken in Europe, students are required to learn two foreign languages during their high school years. This has given me the opportunity to become conversational in German and Spanish.

I have visited Finland, Germany and Spain with my Hungarian high school through participation in student exchange programs. These experiences have greatly improved my foreign language skills. My parents work has allowed me to see all of Europe. I have met people from varied ethnicities and religious backgrounds. It has given me a broader view on life and the people who live around me, enabling me to be sensitive of their needs and traditions.

In general, European opinion of Americans is that they have been granted more possibilities in life and have an easier road. I have had to forge my own way and be determined since I was little to work against this negative stereotypical thinking. In Kindergarten my teacher did not want me to take part in our class play, because she believed I had an accent. In Junior high school I was given fewer opportunities and then told; “You are American and Hungarians have fewer opportunities in life”.

I have had to be dedicated and determined to be granted the same possibilities. I have grown firm but not aggressive. I am currently my class’ Vice President, my high school’s student body representative and team captain for both my school’s men’s Field Hockey team, and Track and Field team.

I feel that struggling against the preconceived understandings about Americans has enabled me to cultivate a lifestyle of tolerance and determination.

 

Click HERE to vote!

Voting ends June 30, 2014, so please don’t put it off ’til mañana.

Thanks!

IlonaSignature

 

Praying for Prodigal MK’s, Part Two

In my last post (click here) I asked for missionary parents to leave names of their prodigal children for whom they would like prayer. Below is the list of names left either in the comment section of that post, or via private messages on FB.

You can’t choose Christ for your kids, but you can pray that they choose Christ. And I’ve met far too many children who have come to Christ because their parents prevailed in prayer, sometimes for decades, to believe God for anything less. What other option do we have? To pray or not to pray – these are the only options.                                 – Mark Batterson, Praying Circles Around Your Children

Join your voice with mine – and with that of each parent of these children – in lifting up these names before the throne of God; pray God’s promises as the Spirit leads you for:

Christopher

daughter (anonymous)

Jedediah

Joel

Josh

Michelle

Nate

Stephen

Amen! I look forward to testimonies of answered prayer, don’t you?

One word of advice to parents of prodigals: form a prayer circle with other parents. Covenant to pray for each other’s children. Why parents? Because no one can pray for children like parents! Empathy fuels intercession. We need to stand in the gap for one another or, maybe I should say, kneel in the gap. – M.Batterson, Praying Circles Around Your Children

 

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Resources/blogs:

Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals founder Judy Douglass’ Prayer for My Prodigal

Loving a Prodigal free e-book

Praying for Prodigal MKs

June 2 is the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

loving-a-prodigal_learning-to-rest-224x300When I saw author, missionary, and fellow member of the Redbud Writers GuildJudy Douglass, post a link on Facebook concerning this day of prayer she launched, I felt prompted to get involved.

Though I don’t have a prodigal, I feel a burden to join in praying on Sunday specifically for prodigal MKs (missionary kids). Because I am a missionary, other missionaries are like family.

Because I am a missionary, I understand the unique challenges of transitioning to and living in a cross-cultural context. And as hard as it can be for us as adults who sense the call and go obediently, some of our kids don’t deal well with it and upon leaving the nest may also abandon the faith, make bad (usually harmful) choices, live wildly, or simply fall apart as they struggle with various issues and search for identity and purpose in life.

Many parents pray, wait, hope, and watch for their prodigal to return; to hear their voice, to run to embrace them, to weep on their neck. Yet when thousands of miles separate parent from prodigal, often with little to no communication, that pain is multiplied.

Those missionaries fighting spiritual battles on the front lines often fight the hardest battle within. Broken hearts, deflated spirits, guilty feelings, empty arms.

Let’s pray!

Dear missionary mom or dad of a prodigal, we want to pray for your prodigal!

I invite you to please leave a comment with the name of your son or daughter, and any other information you feel safe to share. You can remain anonymous, if you so choose, though we would like to know in what corner of the world you serve and/or with what mission.

Dear reader, if you are not a missionary parent of a prodigal, I ask that you join us in prayer. Please leave a comment letting us know that you will pray.

Let’s lift these loved ones to the Lord!

The prayer of the righteous has great power as it is working!

James 5:16

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Read Judy’s blog posts on Loving a Prodigal.

Download her free Loving a Prodigal e-books.

Contentment – a rare commodity

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Today our oldest son turns 24. This post, about him, was written and blogged several years ago, during his first year of college. (He is now into his second year of post-grad studies while serving part time on staff at Harvest Ridge Assembly of God). I felt it deserved to be shared again today, on his birthday:

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We recently chatted with our oldest son and my husband asked him how he was doing. He said he’s doing well, excited about soccer and loves it at college. This, to my mom’s heart, was soothing – and it was about to get better.

My husband, Mr. Philosophical, then asked, “Are you happy with yourself?”

“Well, in some ways, no,” my son answered.

He went on to explain that when it comes to certain areas of life – study, sports, character, etc. – he doesn’t settle for where he’s at but rather pursues improvement. This I can accept. Then he went on and said something that surprised me; something that is rarely heard: contentment.

“The other day I was with the soccer team, and in my head I went through all the guys, including my five best friends, and decided I would rather be me than any of them.”

Really? I thought, my brows furrowing. It took a while for my heart and mind to wrap around those words, for my mind instantly raced through memories, stopping briefly along the way at sundry moments in our life; in his life.

First, my mind flashed to the day we moved him into his college dorm room: he with one box, one suitcase, (those two holding basically everything he owned), plus a few linens and things from Target. Half an hour after our arrival, his roommate boisterously came tumbling in  with nearly a dozen extra large packing boxes filled with room decor, clothes for every season, various new electronic gadgets we’d never heard of, a new mini fridge, and bragging rights about everything his parents went out and bought him those past few days.

I stood there, a serrated pang of guilt cutting deep.

I was sure my son wished he could be in that kids shoes. Less than a year earlier, on the mission field, our lives were turned upside down and we lost almost everything we owned because of a medical emergency that forced us quickly back to the USA. Our son, too, lost so many things that were precious to him. And there was no replacing most of those things – for any of us.

Then my thoughts turned to the fact he has no car and therefore obligated to work in the campus library for minimal pay while his friends have awesome paying jobs at the mall or at busy restaurants, bringing in hundreds of dollars per week.  Their parents bought them cars before going to college. My son has asked if there was anyway we could help pay for a car and insurance, too. “Sorry”, we told him, “there’s no possible way.”

Among the rapid and impromptu thoughts came another one: his new friends don’t get stressed when it comes to break time from college, be it fall break, holiday, or summer vacation. They go “home” and hang with their social circle there, be it church, work, or former high school buddies. Our son has to figure out where he can go – and although his grandparents open their home, bless their heart – once there he really doesn’t have any social life, or again, his own vehicle in which to get around.

Certainly at times like that he must have wished to be like his friends, having grown up in the U.S. and being able to return to the familiar.

So how, I wondered, with less material possessions and a life that’s not the norm, can he say he’d rather be himself? How could he be so content when I feel guilty for not being like the rest of the college parents?

My husband had always told our kids that contentment is a great gift that few ever possess, and that people are drawn to content people. My oldest son concurred with both those statements.

I learned another important lesson from that: I need to not only be content for myself, but also be content on behalf of my kids; I need to quell these female and motherly notions I entertain – these guilty feelings of not having done or given enough.

My son has a rare commodity indeed – contentment. God’s grace has brought him to that place in his life and I pray God’s grace will keep him there. It will take him far in life.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Tim. 6:6

 

Happy Birthday, Michael! We love you and are proud of you!

 

Tay-HA-tay Festival

This post was written by my daughter three years ago, when she was nine years old, and published on her missionary kid blog.

I’m reposting again to my blog because it’s that time of year: Palm Sunday. Once a year this takes place… the only place in the world, though we’re privileged to enjoy this ancient drink daily if we chose to, made by any number of our neighbors here in our pueblo.

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Hi.  This is the only Tejate Festival in the world.  It is in our village, called San Andres Huayapam. Tejate is pronounced (tay-ha-tay).  Tejate is a drink that has all kinds of stuffed mixed in. It has ground corn, cocoa, the flower from the cocoa tree, and the seed from the mamey fruit ground into in.  Mamey’s look kinda of like potatoes.  You can see some pictures here of the cocoa flower and the mamey fruit. (Mamey is pronounced mah-may).

Tejate Festival Cocoa Flowers for Tejate_2009_wr Tejate Festival Mamey fruit_2009_wr

The ladies stick their hands into it to mix it.  They add water and they keep beating it with their fist. That’s how they get the white foamy stuff on top.

Tejate Festival_hand mixing_2009_wr Tejate up close_Festival 2009_wr

They tell us the Zapotec Indians used to make it like a thousand years ago and the ladies in our village still make it the same way.

Guelaguetza in Huayapam 046 So how do you think it tastes?  I didn’t like it when I first tried it when we moved here.  (that’s me in the picture from then). Now I love it. If I beg enough, my mom stops by a lady’s house up the street sometimes after school and we share it in a to go cup. But if we sit down to drink at their place, they put it in those painted red bowls…which are really shells!

Anyway thousands of thousands of people come every year.  I think about four thousand or more people were there last year.  Isn’t that amazing! I can’t believe it.  We went to the festival and drank tejate but also you can buy ice cream, some real mexican food, mexican drinks, and more stuff at the festival.

What do you think is the best title for this story?

1. The Tejate Festival

2. Thousands of People

3.The Only Tejate Fiesta in the World

4. What you can get in Mexico

Please, after you pick one, leave a comment.  Thanks! Bye! KH

Parting is Bittersweet

To all my missionary friends who were privileged to spend the holidays with family, this post is for you.

Blessed were we for spending time with our loved ones, hearing their laughter, watching their joy, visiting with friends, sitting through English church services, and being personally reminded of the prayers of the saints.

But then, once again…

…we saw our parents cry, hugged college kids goodbye, listened to the lamentations of our children as we flew away, and are re-adjusting to life in our host country after having re-adjusted a few weeks ago to stateside living.

And again we put our hand to the plow without looking back.

It’s never easy, but easy is not what life is about.

Hudson Taylor, missionary extraordinaire, shares his own sorrow:

My beloved mother came to see me off from Liverpool. Never shall I forget that day…we had to say goodbye, never expecting to meet on earth again.

For my sake she restrained her feelings as much as possible. I stood alone on deck, and she followed the ship as we moved towards the dock gates.

As we passed through, and the separation really commenced, I shall never forget the cry of anguish wrung from that mothers heart.

It went through me like a knife.

Even heroes hurt.

What was your greatest sorrow?

Maybe you are a missionary who wasn’t able to return to your home country for the holidays but remember all to well the pain of that first leaving.

What is your greatest sorrow?

Hudson continues:

I never knew so fully, until then, what God so loved the world meant. And I am quite sure that my precious mother learned more of the love of God to the perishing in that hour than in all her life before.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. I wonder, did God hurt too?

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quotes from “A Retrospect” by Hudson Taylor

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It’s Holiday Break: Do You Know Where YOUR Kids Are?

A recurring question parents of college missionary kids (MKs) ask them throughout the year is: “Where will you be? What are your plans?”

Whether its fall break, summer break, or any of the holiday breaks, we sit a world away and wonder what they will do and where they will go when the dorms are locked and the campus is cleared.

Thanksgiving is for Family

Most other students likely go back home – or at least have the option to.

We don’t have a home in the states.

Though our three sons have always found a place to go – whether tagging along with a friend from college or to their grandparents in another state – those places are not their true home.

High school buddies aren’t there, neither is the church in which they grew up, nor former sports teammates, or any other social circle.

Last month before fall break, a mom wrote me asking about one of our boys and if he was planning on “going home” during that time.

I thought to myself come all the way to Mexico for four days? then realized what she was asking and replied, “I have no idea whether he’ll be in Ohio or not.”

She knows we’re missionaries but it didn’t dawn on her how final and distant it becomes when our kids go back to the U.S.

During the past few days I’ve read FB statuses of parents who with joy and excitement wait for their young adult to come back home, hug their neck, sit around the table, and again be close by– even if for a few short days. My heart is paired with emotions, those of sharing their joy along with experiencing a longing for the same.

Yet, a thankfulness settles over me for our missions organization (the Assemblies of God) and what they do for college MK’s drifting around out there. Through the ISMK (International Society of Missionary Kids) ministry, they offer them a place to go with their missionary family during Thanksgiving break: a ski retreat. How fun is that?

Today, two of my sons, Joey and Jon, are traveling to Colorado–one from Pennsylvania, the other from Missouri–where they will spend the next three days laughing, skiing, playing games, sitting around a fireplace, worshipping, having devotionals, talking, and drinking hot cocoa with kids like them from around the world.

In Jon’s words, “Sometimes being an MK is so worth it!”

Although our oldest son, now a grad student, no longer qualifies to go, he’s found his place in the world and is happy to hang with various relatives.

Tomorrow, I’m sure you’ll count your blessings and give thanks for those who are close by.

KGS College Campus front

But what about other MKs who may not have a fun retreat to attend, or family close by? Or what about students from other countries who have gone to the US to study. What do they do during this time? The latter may not even know what Thanksgiving is, and may not have any place to hang out.

Will they be permitted to stay on campus? Will the cafeteria be open if they do?

Have you ever stopped to think about this category of young adults?

If you personally know a college aged missionary kid, a third-culture kid, or even an international student living in the U.S., please pause for a moment and remember to pray for them during breaks like this.

Moreover, pause for a moment and consider inviting them into your home. And your heart.

If it were your son or daughter, you would hope for the same.

Worry, Love, Trust

I worry because I love. I trust because I love.

It’s natural; I’m a wife and mom. It’s supernatural; I’m a child of God.

Moments in life come when worry creeps in. I wish I could tell you I am so full of faith that I never worry. But then I’d either be lying, dead, or would not have anyone to love.

As a mom, I worry about my kids – especially when they are thousands of miles away. I can’t help it, I love them.

Recently, worry crept in when our 18 yr. old son, who lives with my parents during summer break from college, wrote this on Facebook,

longboarding the streets of cleveland right into progressive field to watch the indians game. yeah it was awesome.

My son (white helmet) and friends longboarding

In case you don’t know what longboarding is, it is an extreme version of skateboarding that is meant to go at high speeds on streets that are meant for cars. Now I’ve known he’s been into longboarding…but the streets of downtown Cleveland!? A bit different from the quiet ‘burb in which my parents live or the hilly country roads around his campus.

But the real worry (aside from his grammar!) came when I went directly from reading his status to reading that of a friend who works in downtown Cleveland,

…after work today, I was stopped at a red light. A motorcycle cop came blasting through the intersection when the light was green….then 4 more motorcycle cops came through to stop traffic in all directions. When I looked back again, I see a truck speeding down Superior pulling a flat bed, with a car on it & some camera men! An Avengers action shot!

If you’re a mom, you may be getting the same mental image I had: my son on his longboard (and probably listening to his i-pod) skating the streets of Cleveland at the same moment cops and a flat-bed trailer are racing through. Not pretty.

I had to let trust in to chase the worry away.

Then last week another son announces his boring twelve-hour drive alone back to college, inviting his friends to call/text him. “Is he nuts!?” I said out loud as worry began creeping in, accompanied by memories of news stories and crash photos of “texting while driving”. Once again…

I had to let trust in to chase the worry away.

I also have bouts of worry when it comes to my husband. He has epilepsy. And he drives hundreds of miles every month on mountain roads, sometimes taking us, sometimes taking someone else. Yes, he’s on strong meds and yes we pray continually for a complete healing. But when we’re not with him and I don’t hear from him in time for lack of communication either via phone or internet, the worrying naturally begins, “What if…?”

I repeatedly have to let trust in to chase the worry away.

It’s the supernatural replacing the natural, because I love the One I trust.

It only takes

…a whispered breath to my God who promises to hear me when I call,

…an urgent plea for Him to keep his angels around my family,

…and a thankful heart that He is able to do more than I can even think or imagine.

Trust carries me through as the worry is chased away.

And that is so amazingly fulfilling, that I can’t help but worry about those who don’t love the One I do. Those who have no assurance of a God who hears.

Those whose heart knows not the thankfulness that flows out of the relationship between Creator and created, Savior and rescued one, Lord and servant.

I may be worrying about you.

Are you willing to let trust in to chase the worry away? His name is Jesus. And it only takes a whispered prayer to believe, an urgent plea for forgiveness, and a thankful heart for the miracle of a newly born spirit.

Worry, trust, love. It’s your choice.

Hamster Contract Memories

Strolling down blog-memory lane, I came across the post copied below and laughed at something I had forgotten: that we ever had a hamster and that our oldest son, upon leaving to college, bequeathed the little pooper to his 7 yr. old sister…with a contract!

Although that had been lost to memory, I do remember well another aspect of his leaving as it related to her: she cried herself to sleep almost nightly for six months, even though she had two other teenage brothers at home to love on.

She’s now eleven, has none of her brothers left at home, and only cries for them occasionally. Her oldest brother has since graduated college and studying his Masters. The hamster? I’ve no idea…

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Terms for Hamster Ownership – October 2007

Rochester

My 18 yr. old son left to college in August and had to leave Rochester, his hamster, behind since his school for some weird reason doesn’t allow rodents…as pets anyway.

He allowed his seven-year old sister to become Rochester’s guardian, on the condition she sign the Terms of Hamster Ownership Contract.  Mind you, she hardly knows cursive so I’m not sure the signature is legally binding.  Below I list some of the clauses found in this contract (very useful should you need such a contract someday).

My comments are interspersed in green font within parenthesis:

I will not poke him through the bars, with my fingers or anything else.

I will not put anything in his cage except food and bedding or anything I buy at the pet shop.

I will only take him out of the cage when I’m changing the bedding or when my brothers are with me, provided they don’t do anything stupid (bound to happen…they’re teenage boys!) and Rochester only stays out for less than 6 minutes. (as if Katie has a stop watch!)

I will never leave the cage door open after I give him food, either with intention or by simple forgetfulness (huh?), because I know he can escape and fall and break his neck, or someone can step on him in the night, or he find a way outside where our cats will kill him and bite his head off.  (great fodder for nightmares, son! And, btw, mom will be found doing the scream-and-smack- with-dad’s-shoe routine should she find it scurrying about in the middle of the night!).

I will change the bedding every 15th of the month, and give him lots so he can be warm and cozy.  (oh brother, what is he, a man or a mouse?).

I will give him more water when the water is low, because he can die of dehydration, which is a particularly slow and painful death, within three days.  (Thanks Dr. Doolittle)

I,  Katie,  hereby acquiesce (ack-wee-what?)to these requirements to keep Rochester safely.

There you have it.   Yes, our seven yr. old signed this contract, even though she didn’t understand half of it, which led to an impromptu teaching on the dangers of signing your name to anything not understood.  Brother or not!

How Old Am I?

Today is my birthday, and the answer depends on who in my family you might ask.

My hubby, the only one I did ask, gave an answer that any woman would want to hear – which is why I saved it for last.

Hypothetically, my family would answer this way:

Michael, the Ancient Languages grad student, would say:

On this day two score and six years ago, Béla was thirty-three years old when his wife Sári bore him his fourth child. And they named her Ilona.

Joey, the Math major, would compute:

 My mom is 29 x 2 – (3×4).

Jonathan, the Youth Ministries major, would answer:

 My mom’s past forty, but hey, she should have fun anyway.

Katie, the 11 yr.old type A female in the family, would say (to me):

 Mom, you’re not old. But it is time to color your hair; your gray roots are showing.

And my dear hubby replied singing a George Jones country song:

 Your lips stay young and tender just the way they used to be; and because it’s you with your love so true, you’ll never grow old to me.

You’re always warm as the sunshine when I hold you tenderly; and because it’s you with your love so true, you’ll never grow old to me.

And as the world grows old around you, I’ll look back and see; because it’s you with your love so true, you’ll never grow old to me.

Any you’ll never grow o-o-o-ld to me!

 

Country ain’t so bad after all, though I’d still opt for a new Andrea Bocielli i-Tunes download. (hint hint to my three sons).