My siblings and I fall into a group called TCKs (Third Culture Kids) which includes all who have lived internationally and out of their host country for a considerable amount of time. I’m sure there is a specific time that the researchers use - but I’m all about inclusion so if you remember the experience and it lasted long enough to affect you - you are a TCK in my books.
My sister led a group in her college called Mukapa which focused on helping TCKs thrive in the States as they came from around the world. They created a t-shirt that has the famous, shoulder shrugging and at times frustrating question: Where are you from? The shirt gives the perfect response: It’s Mukamplicated…
Side note - being someone who has her own dictionary when it comes to fancy mis-pronouced words - I jumped onto this one as worthy of future use in everyday conversation to answer the age old question: Where are you from?
This word basically encompasses the tension we face of… Which country do I start with let alone which city?!?! How long does this person have to listen to the full List? Will I just sound like this awkward attention-seeking duffus if I give them the full run-down? Time to get out my hand-dandy map.
Other times though - I get really excited. I am very proud of my bilinguality and cross-cultural experiences. I love the fact that I had the privilege to travel extensively as a child and my parents intentionally talked through each transition - knowing that is not every TCKs experience. I loved that some of my most special childhood memories involved international music, the heaven-on-earth glimpse of the nations for Christ, and the power of prayer.
As college became an option to pursue, I knew God was calling me to social work. I loved active listening, support networks and caring for children. I did not fit in the freshman crowd but I moved past that found ways to “fit” in worship and using my gifting in people-focused service there. Someone in college asked me if I thought I was going to be a missionary. I said out loud, “Well, maybe - I do see God calling me to work internationally.” Inwardly, I made the comment: “But fundraising always seemed so stressful for my parents… not sure if I want to put myself through that as an adult.” It’s mukamplicated.. on one side, my parents exemplified what ultimate surrender looked like as they trusted the Lord for all provision and on the other side - I visually saw humanity sometimes take over as fear spoke lies against God’s promises.
Beyond that aspect, I felt the Lord speaking to me through Isaiah in his simple trust to show the Father he was ready to go - wherever, whenever. Isaiah 52:7 brought such a beautiful picture to mind: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (ESV) I cried out: “Lord - I want to have those feet!”
A few years after graduation, with still a confusing grasp on what the future looked like, I added another town to the List this past year as I lived in Albertville, France investing in my French. The mountains outside our school’s compound were mesmerizing. This season brought many experiences of complete surrender to God in finances, in future ministry and in family. A shifting point in the question: “Will you become a missionary?” I felt the Father calling me to a LEAP of faith.
A part of the TCK journey in every move is a desire to befriend as many people as possible and though time is short - connection is sought after with a passion. That desire is what drew me to GoCorps and ultimately to serve in West Africa. Having said YES to the leap of faith - I wanted to continue to add to the List. I wanted to use my language skills for Kingdom work. I wanted to develop relationships with people just as excited about language learning as me. I wanted to learn another language. I also had to take a step back to remind myself that God had called me beyond my comfort zone. Yes - I am comfortable with French and living overseas but I am still working on being comfortable with surrender. With not being in control. With being a TCK. With leaning into the gifts He has given me and being a lead servant. As I will keep saying: It’s mukamplicated…
I will say though I am ready and spiritually motivated to challenge myself to continue to say “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” He is sending me to West Africa and as His child - I am so blessed to be invited to take part in Kingdom work. To all my TCKs out there - it’s okay if for every question in life seems to only come up with “It’s mukampliated” in this season of your life. I think we can invite the body of Christ to start thinking more about our citizenship in Christ if our earthly citizenship does not fully represent our story. Your stories are beautiful and I cannot wait to see what God does with mine.