Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When Cultures Collide

I would like to tell you a story this morning.  It is a true story.  I don't want you to pity the missionary children - I want you to  know how to pray for missionary children better.
As we all know, missionary children grow up in a different culture.  Yes, they are American, and we parents do our best to instill a love of America into our children.  But what happens when they come back to the States?  Sometimes two cultures collide.  When those cultures collide, many different emotions are experienced - by the children, by the parents, and by the loving people who happen to see the "collision."
Opening Scene:  One Sunday morning as Lucy and her family are heading to church.  Lucy and her brother pepper their parents with questions:  "Is there a children's class?"  "Can I go to the kids' class?"  "May I have an offering?"  The parents try not to be frustrated with the long list of questions.  As the family arrives at yet another new church, Mama and Daddy take the kids and head into the church.  A dear lady offers to help Mama by showing her to the kids' classes.  Lucy and her brother, Bud, are SO excited!!!  Lil' Sister doesn't really care - she has Mama and that's all that matters!
Scene 2:  Mama, Bud, and Lucy sitting together in church.  Lucy and Bud are doing their best to follow the service - stand, sit, stand, sing, shake hands, sit......  Then Mama and Bud sing a special.  After the special, Lucy and Bud go to children's church.
Scene 3:  Mama goes to pick up the children from their classes.  Mama notices that Bud is sitting on a bench with the other children.  She tells him to stay right there - she has to go get Lucy and Lil' Sister.  Bud smiles and goes back to his bag of goodies from class.  As Mama peeks into Lucy's class, she sees Lucy sitting by herself with her head down.  Mama immediately assumes that Lucy is needing a "gratitude adjustment."  Teacher explains that the children were playing "Musical Chairs" and Lucy ended up "out."  When Lucy comes to Mama, Lucy is crying.  Mama stops and tries to find out why Lucy is sobbing!  In frustration and despair, Lucy blurts out, "Nobody would let me sit down!  They wouldn't let me have a chair!  The children wouldn't let me sit in a chair!"
*Do you see the "collision"?  Lucy has never played "Musical Chairs," and if she has, she didn't recognize the game because she has played it in another language.  (We smile at the thought of doing things in another language, and not recognizing it in our native tongue, but it happens - especially to missionary children.)  In her mind, the children were being rude to her and not sharing a chair with her.  In Teacher's mind, Lucy is upset because she is "out."  Mama has mixed emotions.  She's feels hurt for her daughter, who doesn't understand a game that is normal for other American children.  She feels as if she has failed her daughter by not teaching her a simple American child's game.  She wants to laugh, but this is a crisis to Lucy.  Mama also feels unprepared and thoughtless - yet how could she have known such a thing would happen?
Closing Scene:  Amid all the people walking around, Mama kneels and gives Lucy a hug and tries to explain.  Mama, Lucy, and Bud play the game together in the hotel that afternoon, using pillows instead of chairs.  Teacher sees Mama before the evening service and asks about Lucy.  Teacher is afraid Lucy didn't enjoy herself in class.  Mama explains why Lucy was upset.  Teacher nods in relief.
It is my opinion that Missionary Kids are heroes.  They sit in a car for hours on end, they go to places they've never been, they meet people who have known them since they were born, but they don't know those people, they have no schedule or routine.  Are they perfect?  No.  They struggle just like any other child.  The only difference is geographical.
So when you are praying for your missionaries, please remember to pray especially for the missionary children.  Pray for the missionary parents to have wisdom to properly handle the "collisions" that will occur.  But pray for the missionary children who experience the "collisions" first hand.  Pray that we (parents, children, and loving by-standers) will let these "collisions" become a tool to help each of us to be closer to our Saviour and bring honor to Him!


  1. Thank you for your timely post! My heart went out to little Lucy! My family and I are preparing to go back to the States for our first furlough in Feb. of next year. Most of my children do not remember America or were born here in Japan. Only my oldest three can remember before Japan. You've helped me think of things to better pray for them specifically.
    May our Lord bless you!
    A friend from Hokkaido,

  2. We have experienced many of these collisions. Our children were babies when we arrived here and now they're all young adults. I've noticed that my children don't know a lot of hymns in English. They know all the hymns but not in English. Makes for a strange situation when your Amierican child doesn't know Bringing in the Sheaves in English. They know the more common ones but it's a funny situation sometimes.
    Anyhow, it's just par for the course and unless you've lived it it's difficult to understand. I'm glad you gave a little insight for those who haven't lived it.
    Sweet post!!