Roasting Marshmallows on a Volcano…November’s MK of the Month, Addisyn!

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In doing research to start this website I happened upon a fantastic blog called “Life as a Missionary Kid” written by a young lady named Addisyn.  In reading her blog I discovered just the kind of young person I wanted to applaud and encourage!  Addisyn writes openly and honestly.  She tackles tough topics with profound wisdom and grace.  She is honest yet positive. Her blog posts are insightful and truly encouraging.  (Be sure to check out her blog and read her incredible post “Feelings on the Field” – a must-read for missionary moms and dads.  I can’t emphasize enough what a good read this is for parents of MKs.). You will thoroughly enjoy the interview with her below and be sure to share it with your own MKs.  Please be sure to leave a comment letting Addisyn know why you think she rocks!  And now, the MK of the Month… Addisyn!

MKsRock: Hi Addisyn!  Where does your family serve as missionaries and what do they do?

Addisyn:  My family serves in Guatemala at Village of Hope- family style homes for children living with HIV/AIDS and other special needs.

MKsRock: Tell us about your adoptive family and why it rocks?

Addisyn: I have 5 adopted siblings. 2 sisters from Guatemala, 2 brothers from the Texas Foster System and 1 sister from Ethiopia. I love having a large multiracial family because I feel like it is a visual example of the glory of God. Because of how my family looks, we have had the chance to share Christ with so many people. Plus the Bible tell us to take care of orphans and one way to do that is by  giving them a family as every child deserves. We adopt because we are adopted into Christ’s family.

MKsRock: What is one challenge of being an MK that surprises you?

Addisyn:  I think the thing that has been hardest for me since moving to Guatemala is making friends. People don’t realize how hard it is to make friends when you are so different from everyone around you, especially when you don’t speak their language. To them, you will always be a “gringo.”

MKsRock: What are some things you love about being an MK?

Addisyn:  I love being a missionary kids because I get the chance to serve God in a way that many others don’t. Through my experiences as a MK I have learned so much and met so many people and I feel so blessed by that.

MKsRock: What are your hobbies or interests?  What do you like to do for fun?

Addisyn:  Along with everyone else in Guatemala, I like to play soccer. I also like to read, write, and hang out with friends.

MKsRock: As an MK what is one of the strangest things you’ve had to eat?

Addisyn:  One of the strangest things I’ve been offered was chicken feet, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it.

MKsRock: As an MK what is one of the funnest things you get to do?

Addisyn:  One of the coolest and most fun thing that I get to do is climb volcanoes. We have so many active volcanoes in Guatemala and sometimes we climb them and roast marshmallows on the lava.

MKsRock: What do you love about Guatemala?

Addisyn: More than anything I love the people of Guatemala. I think they are one of the most beautiful people groups and they are always so loving and welcoming.

MKsRock: What are your plans for the future?

Addisyn: I plan on staying in Guatemala and working as a translator for medical mission teams.

MKsRock: What is the one question you get asked the most as an MK?

Addisyn: “What are your plans for the future?”

MKsRock:  What is one thing you wish people knew / understood about MKs?

Addisyn:  I wish people knew how lonely we feel. And that we’ve lost a lot, even though we have gained too. We have given up everything we owned and everyone we knew, but most people just tell us that we’re lucky because we are gaining cool experiences, and while we are grateful for that, its still really hard.

MKsRock: What are three of your favorite songs right now?

Addisyn:  Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship, Desert Song by Hillsong, and Keep Changing the World by Mikeschair

We thank Addisyn for this interview and for telling us like it is.  Thank you Addisyn for all the things, friends, comforts, and family you left for the sake of the gospel.  We thank you for your sacrifice and for the beautiful ways you are serving.  Thank you for teaching us about MKs.  We pray God will bless you like crazy in Guatamala and fill your life with loyal, loving, faithful friends.  We are proud of you! You most certainly ROCK!

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MKs and Music

I once heard it said that every MK is a musician.  While I know this can’t be entirely true, I love the thought of MK moms and dads prioritizing and instilling the value of worship in their MKs.  I dream of the day when my MKs can heartily and skillfully participate in worship, so if that makes my kids part of the “MK Musician Club” so be it.

I will never, ever, ever forget the first time I heard Tommy Bond sing.  I was sitting in a new church when a poised young man took the stage. His voice was thunderous, rich, deep, operatic, and…angelic.  I wanted to lay myself down like a child: chin resting in my hands and ankles crossed in the air and listen for hours.  Now that MK could sing! I remember thinking about how much time and energy his parents must have invested in refining his gift and I praised the God of heaven.  God used Tommy’s voice, Tommy’s skill, to draw our hearts heavenward.

And then, there was John Montgomery.  This man grew up in a missional home of…wait for it…sixteen children adopted from the nations.  And let me tell you, I have never seen a person before or since command a guitar the way John does.  And the voice the Lord has given him is chilling.  If a lion could sing, he’d sound just like John: a voice like leather, soulful and true.   What that MK did in my life and in the lives of many of my closest friends was amazing.  He taught us theology through Hymns.  He could make an old Hymn as dry as toast sound as catchy and uplifting as anything.

The value of worship is only one generation from being lost and it is something we need all you MKs to chase after.  Refine your gift.  Keep practicing – even if you feel as clumsy as a two-legged turtle or as awkward as someone who kisses with their eyes open.  You’ll get it.  And remember, every time you sit down to practice (or stand depending on your instrument) you are making an investment in the Bank Account of Cool.  Because, there is nothing cooler than being able to lead your friends into the presence of a Holy God.

My friend Kurt (whose voice and skill also makes me cry) once said that five minutes in God’s presence can do more for the human heart than five years in therapy.  And after all, MK, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Love you,

Jess

If anyone should leave…

Okay, MKs.  I know I’ve been writing a whole lot of posts for the moms and dads lately but this one is just for you!

As a mom, I have days and moments when I feel kinda guilty about all the things I’m asking my MKs to do and go through.  I remember when we had to get our son Jeremiah’s blood drawn for a mission’s organization and the well-meaning nurse poked and prodded my little baby boy like six times with a needle but could never get his blood drawn.  Jeremiah was screaming and crying and looking at me like, “Mom, why are you letting this lady torture me!?” I was a sweaty, frustrated, not-so-happy lady in that moment and in my stress I started thinking about all the not-so-fun things my kiddos may have to go through as MKs.

But then I was reminded of one of the coolest promises in the Bible.  When I read this promise in light of you, MKs, it makes me want to cry and jump and clap and cheer and shout at the top of my lungs for joy.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29 – 30

What that means, MK, is that God sees your sacrifice.  He knows.  And, baby, He gets it.

Whatever you’ve had to leave, God sees you.

Whatever you miss back home (wherever home is), God sees you.

Whomever you miss the most, God sees you.

And the promise is, you’re not forgotten.  You’re not left in the dust and in the photographs you didn’t make it into because you are overseas.

So sit tight, MK.  There is a special reward for you too, in the Lord.  And His treasures will soothe, comfort, and fulfill volumes more than anything the world – however sweet – has to offer.

We are cheering for you, MKs big and small because we know you are a part of the coolest story ever written.  And seriously, you rock!

Love, Jess

MK – if you would like prayer this week or if this post speaks to you at all, please write to us here.

Why Adelina and Your Turn

Writing and having a children’s book published is more work than it looks like.  But it’s the back story that motived the project and in the back story I see God at work.

Nearly three years ago, we had an encounter with the Lord.  It was one of those take-your-breath-away, our-life-is-never-going-to-be-the-same kind of moment.  We were prospering serving in a rockin’ (and I mean rockin’) church in Northern Nevada.  We enjoyed our work, we owned a comfortable home, we were having fun as new parents, and we were finding good friends who understood and celebrated us.  We had family close by and enjoyed all kinds of out-door activities where we live.

But then a missionary couple from Mission Aviation Fellowship came to our church and talked with us about the work they do.  Almost as if we were being swept away, God started whispering, leading, and eventually shouting to us to go for the gospel.  The amount of logistics and the number of steps between that moment and now are too numerous to delineate here but God got us to this moment where we are all set to go and only a few short steps away.

But behind every missionary couple there are some grandparents and sometimes it is the grandparents who pay the highest price.  In my case, we are leaving behind my mom.  My mom had two kids: my brother and I.  My brother died in 2008 and that leaves me.  I also hold in my grasp my mother’s only grandchildren.  My mom loves deeply and grieves fiercely so when we told her we were moving our family overseas to serve the Lord she was…not happy.  Questions like:

“Why would the Lord send you guys when you have small children? Why not send single man or a couple without kids?”

“Why would you take those precious children away from me? I’ll never be a part of their lives and I always dreamed of being a grandma?”

“I’m probably not going to live all that long and I will have missed them, my grandkids.  They won’t even know me.”

There was tension.  It was hard.  And it hurt.

But there was another tension too.  It was the tension a missionary parent feels when they know they are asking a great deal of their children. Don’t get me wrong, I know the best best best thing anyone can do for their kids is simply obey the Lord. But, selling all their toys, moving them from the cul-de-sac (and friends) they love, and leaving their grandma is a lot to ask of a kiddo.  Let’s be honest.

So, I began to write.  I began to write about how I was feeling and what I saw the Lord doing – in us, in Adelina, and in grandma.  Out of that came a sweet and relatable story called “Adelina Aviator.”  The book is finished and being printed as we speak and my everyday heart-and-soul prayer is this:

that it would encourage Missionary Kids that someone is telling their story

that is would soothe the hurts of grandparents and those who release MKs to the Lord’s work

that it would inspire children everywhere to live out the Great Commission, and

that it would remind MK moms and dads why we do what we do!

Anyone who’s ever done any self-funded publishing knows that you don’t do it to make any money.  After paying an illustrator, a publishing house, a layout artist, and a printer you stand to make about $1 if you’re lucky.  So, the motivation to write, and even to sell this book, is about something much, much bigger.  It’s about reaching people with a message of faith, hope, and love.  It’s about wanting to sincerely be a blessing to people whom I think are truly remarkable: missionaries.  And it’s about shining some light on another group of people who seriously rock: MK’s.

(If you haven’t seen our books page, check it out! And if you know missionaries, please bless them with a copy.)

So, missionary friends and MK’s now it’s YOUR TURN!

Send us your story!  Tell us what’s amazing about how God brought you into mission’s work.  And tell us why your MKs rock!  We would consider it the highest honor to cheer alongside you for what God is doing in your life!  Contact us with your story here!

 

From the Archives

There are two kinds of missionary: the kind that fly airplanes, and the kind that spend a lot of time around airplanes.  In either case, you know that crazy kind of love an aviator feels about all things flying.  Since we are becoming good friends, you and I, I’ve decided to share a little something with you from the archives.  It’s a poem I wrote about that crazy airplane love.  I was a teenager when I wrote it so show me a little grace.  But first, a little more ado.

It was September 11, 2002 and I was standing in the very center of the outdoor courtyard in the United States Pentagon.  I’d been asked to share this poem and I can’t recall what was more uncomfortable: the business suit I was wearing or the sound of my own voice projecting toward the distinguished service men and women whom, exactly one year ago, watched a part of their building be decimated before their eyes.  Friends were lost that day, just one year ago.  What I remember most was making eye contact with a uniformed woman in the courtyard as I recited my poem.  She looked distinguished, regal even, but sad.  We locked eyes for good long moment and tears filled hers as I shared my passion for aviation.  I knew I didn’t deserve to be there, among them and it was humbling.  When our team was done performing that day we were given a piece of the building.  It was broken and, like the building that day, still in need of repair.

And so it is with all of us.

“I Have To Fly” by Jessica Vana

As a child she looked upward, her eyes gazed on the sky.

Under her breath in the softest of whispers she’d sigh, “I have to fly.”

“Why can’t you be like other girls who like to giggle and play?”

She’d laugh out loud with disregard and and say, “You’ll see someday.”

And as the child grew, her dream took on a life.

She knew she’d touch the clouds no matter the struggle or strife.

She always had her head in the clouds, they always wondered, “why?”

She’d never answer, just grin and think, “I know one day I’ll fly.”

As she became a woman they asked, “What profession will you choose?”

“We all must have a job, you know, we all must pay our dues.”

“A doctor or a lawyer or something of that kind?”

Something a little higher, was what she had in mind.

With their blank and lifeless expressions from office windows stare

They see a plane flown by the girl with stardust in her hair.

As a child she looked upward, her eyes gazed on the sky

Under her breath in the softest of whispers she’d sigh, “I have to fly!”

MKs with Rockin’ Attitudes

I have this friend who seriously doesn’t tolerate complaining.  What happens is, you’ll be telling him a story and then as soon as your story takes a turn toward complaining, his face shuts down.  It’s like someone just came up from behind and unplugged him.  He might listen to the rest of your story but you know, you’ve lost him.  He just doesn’t do complaining.

And isn’t it true that the most basic tenants of the Christian faith are the very things that bear repeating…like every day.  Things as simple as do all things without complaining and things as bedrock as love the Lord your God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yet, these are the things it is good to hear over and again day after day.

Oh yea, God does love me!  Oh yea, God IS good.  Oh yea, don’t complain! Those are the kind of thoughts that hit me every day as I interact with God in one way or another.  Which leads me to Missionary Kids.

Since the Bible does tell us to do all things without complaining (Phl 2:14) and since complaining is annoying and unhelpful (I know you know that) I’ve decided to have a “no complaining policy” in my home.  Of course there will be bumps, bruises, set-backs, and disappointments and of course we can grieve those things, but, we all know the difference between mourning a loss in a healthy God-focused way and plain ole ugly complaining.  Thus and henceforth, complaining is forbidden.

Here’s the deal: MKs have a tough tough tough set of challenges.  Big ones.  Challenges so big and tough that no one who has never taken kids across oceans, away from all they know and love, to learn a new language and find new friends and acclimate to a new culture could even fathom.  But, it is the attitudes of mom and dad that will shape the attitudes of these little ones.

Preparing to be missionaries my family has moved four times in two years.  We’ve stayed in more homes than I can count and packed, unpacked, and repacked more boxes than I care to recall.  I miss my bed that we sold and my back hurts. I don’t have all my cute tea cups so when I have you over for tea now we’re drinking out of coffee mugs which is really annoying to someone like me.  I can’t find a book I want because it’s in a box somewhere and…oh…wait a minute…now I’m complaining!  See how quick that happens!

But seriously, I am resolving to take life as a missionary as it comes and to use the annoyances, obstacles, and set backs to teach my MKs the muscle-work of not complaining.  The only way I think that can be actually possible is with a mental cocktail of good humor, good friends, and actual prayer.

Right now today I have missionary friends who can’t get decent shampoo, and who’ve had to manually build their own beds.  Annoying.  But, when we look at all of these  things in light of Christ; in light of eternity; in light of souls…we remember, it’s worth it.  He’s worth it.

May our attitudes reflect the love of Him who sends us and may our MKs see that joy in adversity draws others Godward.

Cheering for You,
Jess