I was 12 years old when my family moved to the Philippines, and my life hasn’t been the same since.
It wasn’t easy packing up a family of seven to move 7,000 miles across the world, but somehow my parents did it. For me, it was an adventure; I’m sure for them it was much more stressful than my 12-year-old mind could understand at the time. But we were going because God had called us — a calling that had been confirmed over and over again since we started looking into Wycliffe. That was only a year before we packed our bags and got on the plane that would take us to a new country, a new culture and a new life.
At first it was hard moving to another country. I was old enough to miss our home in Colorado, our friends and our church family. But I was also young enough that moving across the world was an exciting adventure. Everything was so different, but in a good way! I learned new ways of looking at the world as I interacted with people who spoke a different language and grew up in a different culture. It helped open my eyes to the many differences — and similarities — from one culture to another. And as time went on, I adjusted to life as a new type of kid — a missionary kid (MK).
Missionary kids have a reputation. We’re known for being a little “different.” We grow up in a culture that’s not our passport country, but not one we can fully identify with either, because we’re foreigners. So we create our own culture by taking pieces from both worlds and making it our own. At first you don’t realize what you’re doing, and then one day you recognize that you’re just a bit different than everyone else. But we embrace it, and find a unique sense of freedom in not being able to be defined by a culture’s norms.
I lived in the Philippines until I was 18, when I returned to the United States for college, and those six years shaped my life and made me who I am today. How can I truly capture and share all that I saw, experienced, and learned? Living overseas is an experience that really cannot be summed up in just a few hundred words. I could go on about it for days and still not be able to share it all. But one thing I can share is that it was during those years in the Philippines that God filled me with a desire to also take a leap of faith and step out as a missionary one day.
There’s so much of the world that is still waiting to hear about God, to be touched by the hands of Jesus and to know that they’re loved. Being up close and personal with this need made my heart soft to those who are still waiting to get God’s Word, to learn that he’s there, and most importantly, to know that they’re loved more than they could ever imagine.
When you come face to face with that need and it smacks you right between the eyes, drilling down into the depths of your soul and penetrating to the core, you can’t help but want to respond. We’ve been called to be the hands and feet of God. There’s an unmet longing in each of us that can only be filled by him, and we can help others find the answer to that unmet longing by being a missionary to those around us.
Growing up, I didn’t know that I’d one day come to work for Wycliffe at their headquarters in Orlando. I always thought I’d go overseas right after college and start living out this calling in a different country. But God’s shown me that we can be a missionary wherever he’s placed us — right in our communities and neighborhoods, to the people we meet at the grocery store or even to our church community. We’re all called; we just have different places he’s called us to.