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.
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.
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.