Questions Missionary Kids Wish You Would Ask
By Asia Stubenrauch
Picture this: Your pastor has just dismissed your weekly church service. You’re inspired, your head buzzing with all the stories the guest speaker, the church missionary, has just told. The missionary family is home for a furlough, so you determine to say hi on the way out.
Who knows when they might be back again? But you haven’t gone ten steps when you notice that, while the parents seem deeply engaged with many people coming up to ask questions and talk, the children are off to the side, looking bored and maybe even a bit dejected.
Well, you, being the kindhearted person you are, decide to try and cheer them up by making conversation. Except, where to begin? If you know any missionary kids (MKs for short), you know that they often hate the questions they get asked the most! So what to do? What to ask? How to make them feel heard and understood and like you care about them, not just their parents’ ministry? Lucky for you, I have just the guide.
Welcome to: Questions Missionary Kids Wish You Would Ask.
Just a note: this is not an original idea. A blog called A Life Overseas did this idea first; I’m just putting my own spin on it! Check out the original here.
Question 1 : What’s your favorite food from your host country?
You can’t go wrong with a good food question! Food is often a subject we MKs can elaborate on for hours. One of the perks of the job is the variety of food we get to enjoy. Some of my favorite foods are Thai sticky rice with a special sour mango salad… and mac and cheese. Not dishes you regularly see all at one meal, but still phenomenal in their own ways!
Question 2 : What’s your Favorite Subject in School?
Everyone wants to feel heard! Missionary Kids aren’t mini missionaries; we’re kids! We have lots of ideas, hopes, dreams, and hobbies, and we feel welcomed when we’re treated like normal kids, not ministry partners!
Question 3 : Do you have any funny airport stories?
Airports hold a special place in the hearts of missionary kids. They give us access to our loved ones, and often our hardest and sweetest moments happen in airports. That said, every airport trip has about a thousand wry moments of TSA power trips, awkward mixups, and hilarious hijinks. You wouldn’t believe the fun we can have with $3, a phone with a 2% battery, and a six-hour layover.
Question 4 : Do you have any favorite fun facts about your host country?
Missionary kids often get bombarded with some unintentionally but acutely painful statements upon returning from the field. Well-meaning churchgoers and relatives will offer broad smiles and say things like, “Aren’t you glad to be back?” “We’re so glad to have you home.” and “How are things over there?” Home is usually a tricky topic for your average MK, so assuming we feel happy to be in our passport country is an oversimplification. The emotions upon returning to a passport country can range from anger to ecstasy, or both! Think about your own hometown and recognize that our host country is important to us, maybe even more important than our passport country!
Question 5 : Where’s your favorite place to go in your host country?
Acknowledging the love and affection an MK most likely feels towards their host country is crucial. Even if the MK isn’t particularly fond of his or her host country, odds are there’s some restaurant, shop, park, or friend’s home that holds a special place in their hearts.
And there you have it: A beginner’s guide to making MKs feel welcome anywhere! Use these questions at parties, in church lobbies, or over brunch. Your missionary friends will thank you, and you may find some new friends along the way. In the end, you can’t go wrong if you use the golden rule and apply a bit of sensitivity. Furloughs are challenging times for MKs. Travel and newness can create a sense of instability and panic in many kids, not to mention the added pressure of meeting and greeting dozens of supporters. But you can make the experience a fun one by showing some genuine interest and attention to your church’s MKs.
About the Author
Asia Stubenrauch is a missionary kid who was born and raised in Thailand. Although she’s currently working at the Globe office as an assistant graphic designer, she’s in the process of raising funds for a 6-month Discipleship Training School with YWAM. In her free time, she enjoys playing the Irish pennywhistle, watching British TV shows, and eating all the sushi and fried rice she can get ahold of. If you are interested in giving towards her fund, click the button below and choose “Stubenrauch, Asia YWAM Trip” under Gift Preference.