Wanderlust Wednesday- Christmas market edition

liam-mckay-465573-unsplashIt is the first week of December and Christmas is so close. The weather here in Orlando can make it hard to believe it is almost Christmas, or maybe its the palm trees and perpetual sunshine. Growing up Christmas was filled with ice skating, dark grey snowy skies, and hot chocolate that was so rich it was more like pudding than the watery stuff Americans make out of powdered packets.

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One of the places that truly made me feel like it was Christmas was our Christmas market. For all you European MKs you’ll know what I’m talking about. Wooden booths filled with beautiful hand made pottery, jewelry, clothing, and oh so much food. The stalls were filled with pastries, soups, grilled meat and apple cider. The air was cold and there were so many people it was sometimes hard to move. Our family would always set a time and place to meet because no matter how hard we tried to stay together we would inevitably lose at least one or two people in the crowd.

In this warm palm tree weather my heart longs for the freezing cold Christmas market days. For those of you like me who are feeling nostalgic and missing Christmas market days here are a few videos:

 

 

 

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Are We Blessed – Even in the Places that Feel Barren?

By Hannah Broadwell

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Do you ever look at God as a vending machine? You do good for Him – ministry, consistent quiet times or cleaning your roommates’ dishes. Then in return expect God’s blessings to fall out the bottom, like your favorite candy bar. I will be the first to say I fall into this perspective all the time.

Growing up in missionary households, I think we learn this pattern as young children. Our parents serve the Lord with such sacrifice and we selfishly, or unknowingly, begin to believe that we deserve something back from God. It could be as simple as catching a break when life feels as if it’s against us. Continue reading

Doing Great Things

By Bethany Otten

“I am so sick and tired of people expecting great things from me!” I scream-sobbed over the phone. Now, my mother will tell you that I’ve always been a bit melodramatic but the tears that made me pull the car over that night caught me by surprise. My reaction didn’t match the offense that had caused the tears and this little voice in my head seemed to roll it’s eyes and say “Do we really want to unpack this baggage?”

I had just driven back from meeting with a possible supporter, who despite their best intentions to give me a pep talk about my potential had in fact voiced my own insecurities about moving overseas for ministry. Was this just a detour? Was ministry a waste of my education and ambition? Am I taking the easy way out, easing myself into adulthood with a context I’m comfortable with? Was I settling?

What I unpacked that night was not that I was irritated with people who were excited about my potential. Instead I was exhausted of trying to make myself the success I thought people expected to see when they looked at me. I wanted to be emotionally healthy and well rounded for my parents, I wanted to be academically competent for my professors, and I wanted to make progress on a career path for those who had given so much toward my education. I was acting as though their approval was dependent upon my achievements. It had been unconsciously reinforced that my achievements made me great and that I had gifts that demanded greatness, or at the very least success.

After some self-reflection and introspection I came to two conclusions. First, that was an embarrassingly lofty view of self, regardless of how ambitious I may be. Second, God has not called me to be a great person, or do great things for him.

He is not interested in my feeble attempts to impress him. He is already doing great things and he has graciously invited me to participate. Success will be abiding in the vine. Greatness will be only by proximity to his. Likely, it will look very different to the world, for the world is not concerned with eternal things.

Trying to reframe this view of my gifts, background, experience and ambition has looked a lot like laying at the feet of Jesus and asking for a new heart and open eyes. A heart that beats and breaks with his and eyes that are open to the work worth pursuing; the work he is already doing. That work may or may not live up to worldly success and I am still making my peace with that.
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Bethany grew up in Kazakhstan and is now in STINT with mk2mk in Budapest Hungary.

 

Cultural Pride

By Tim Hepokoski

IMG_8059I’ve had my fair share of cultural experiences. I had a Greek woman insistently tell me where I needed to go buy underwear in Athens. I can only wonder if she had searched my bags earlier. I spent a week before summer mission in Thailand with Thai CCC staff Yui and Yokie. During this time they gave me new foods to try and would occasionally laugh as they did so. I have had a host of new experiences which could lead to culture shock, but given my experience as a TCK I always thought I was immune to it. I’ve since been corrected. Continue reading

Holiday Musings

By Katie Holland

November is in full swing and December is just around the corner. The balmy Florida weather I currently exist in is becoming, well, slight less balmy. With the weather’s shift comes the hum of holiday season. All the office conversations revolve around “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” and checking calendars to plan for Christmas break.

I am a lover of the Holidays. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons; I love all the decorating, baking, and gathering that happens in these months. However, there is something else here too, something a little less thankful, a little less jolly. There’s a sadness, an ache. There’s a longing for what my holidays used to be.

I grew up in Eastern Europe, Romania and Hungary, where my parents were missionaries. That is where I fell in love with this time of year. My “normal thanksgiving” was the hilarious stories that came from trying to live out a distinctly American holiday half way around the world. Normal was avoiding the weird orange mushy stuff because I didn’t understand the concept of sweet potatoes. Normal was gathering with friends rather than family.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving stories was the year we bought a twenty-four kilogram Turkey. See, Turkeys are not easy to come by in Hungary. However, this year there was someone at our church who knew someone, who knew a turkey farmer. So all the missionaries got their turkeys from him. While I’m sure that would be super exciting in the States – farm-to-table Thanksgiving? Whoo! – it was less than exciting for us. Turns out the Turkey was comically enormous weighing in at over forty pounds.

It comes time to defrost this beast. So we dump it into an empty trashcan filled with water and stick it in the shower for a day. It finally thaws and my Mom goes to cook it forgetting that while this bird is comically big, European ovens are comically small. After much sawing and hacking the bird is less whole than it once was, but is now cooking away. That year we were eating leftover Turkey for actual months.

Why does this story matter? It really doesn’t, except that I love it. I could tell countless more of strange Thanksgiving traditions. Or even more about my favorite things about European Christmas like the Christmas market on the walking streets of Budapest and my favorite journal and potter stands. I could tell you about the lights shaped like stars and snowflakes that lined the streets where I lived. I’d tell you about sitting on the lion statue or ice-skating until the blisters had blisters every Christmas Eve.

The special Holiday memories, at least mine, were made when I was in those growing up years. I think for many of us our ideas of what holidays should be, look like, and feel like are shaped when we’re kids. Because of that, my holidays have become bittersweet.

Now I spend Thanksgiving with thirty family members in Kentucky. The funny stories now revolve around people and games rather than weird food and cross-cultural experiences. I LOVE our family thanksgiving, but loving where I am doesn’t mean I don’t miss where I was.

While I love the new traditions we’ve formed, there’s a potent ache and longing for what used to be. It’s the ache we voice each year by saying “it doesn’t really feel like Christmas.” It’s a longing that permeates much of the TCK life. Longing for what was and will never be again.

It sounds dramatic, but it’s real. I’ll likely never spend another Christmas in Budapest or another Thanksgiving at the Gibson house. Those memories live only in my head because I don’t get to return to the places where they happened or the people that were there.

Has this longing ruined my holidays? Absolutely not! I am so grateful for varied experiences and the knowledge of what it looks like to celebrate outside of my currant context. If anything it makes the holidays more special, more sacred. Sacred, because this longing mirrors another, more important longing.

My experience of holidays awakes a longing that reflects that this is not my true home. This is not my perfect family. The holidays awake my longing for the new heaven and the new earth where there will be no more goodbyes, no more missing what was, no more unfulfilled ache. And so the holidays give me hope. Hope of a time when we are all completely whole, no missing pieces, no broken places.

That hope breeds joy, a joy that is most potent at the holidays.

Bio:

Katie

Katie Holland grew up as a missionary kid (MK) in Romania and Hungary before attending Covenant College in Chattanooga, TN. Post graduation she relocated to Orlando, FL to work on the MK2MK team at Cru’s headquarters where she just joined staff. She is passionate about ministering through shared experience. Things she loves include: studying scripture, scarf and boot weather, her niece Isla Noël, and coffee, which is a vital part of her daily life.

Wanderlust Wednesday: South Africa edition

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Port Shepstone South Africa… It is a beautiful place, one that I have spent quite a bit of time in and during my time there have come to love. This summer MK2MK is headed back to Port Shepstone for the 6th time. We are so excited to be going back to this beautiful place where we have built friendships and community.

We have been partnering with a local church in Port Shepstone since 2012. High school students in the community are eager to build friendships with American students. Our ministry will include serving alongside a local youth group by doing a week-long local mission trip together,  getting to know students in several high schools, working with children and volunteering in a hospice connected to the church.

 

Come and see how God can use you in a new environment and build community with MKs/TCKs from around the world!

To apply click here. 

Want to read more about what a summer missions trip in SA is like? Here are a few of our blog posts from this past summer:

https://travelliteblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/without-borders/

https://travelliteblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/a-week-of-community-pt-1-experience-post/

https://travelliteblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/08/three-week-check-in/

 

Facing the Tsunami of Chaos with God as my Rock

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By Christopher Davila

Christopher is a Senior studying Psychology at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He was born in Colombia, has dual citizenship in Costa Rica and the U.S., but spent most of his childhood in Santiago, Chile. Christopher loves to do art, have fun with friends and family, and experience new places around the world.

Every year we face new waves of transition. According to Dave Pollock’s Third Culture Kids book, transitions include change of routine, friend groups, and so much more. One aspect of transition that I am facing right now is chaos. Chaos is the stage of transition where you have no clue how everything is supposed to work and often feel overwhelmed. This stage can be incredibly confusing and frustrating. But, throughout it all, I am not discouraged or dismayed because I can come to the Lord for strength and guidance. He never denies His aid to me. Continue reading