A former missionary kid (MK) we know posted this link on Facebook and I think it addresses many of the issues we anticipate our own children will face when they return to America to “visit” or attend college. Going on two years in Japan, our kids definitely feel more at home here in Japan and less like foreigners. They speak Japlish, the mixture of Japanese and English and sometimes struggle with finding the right word in English (which is understandable since Japanese has many words with no direct translation to English). They have developed some Japanese mannerisms. And they are still changing and growing.
As a family, we’ve stopped referring to California as “home” for some time now. Home is such a relative term, and right now, our home is here in the Tokyo area. But it’s natural for our friends in California to assume we still consider it our home. We already sense the coming confusion for our kids as they contemplate staying in America after college or returning to Japan (assuming, of course, that we are still here).
I think one of the most difficult aspects of missionary life is the constant change in relationships. People come and go in and out of our lives every year, sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently (or at least a very long time). Other missionaries go on home leave or leave the field on a regular basis. Friendships are precious because they are fleeting and I think that’s what hits the kids the hardest.
We always ask for special prayer for our children because we know their lives are challenging and they made involuntary sacrifices in the stability of their social lives when they became a missionary family along with us. We are grateful for the grace the Lord has poured out on them in terms of friendships and opportunities to belong. But we also know these friends and opportunities tend to change rapidly. Thank you for supporting our children in this special way as we serve here in Japan.