The Missionary Kid
7 Aug 2017
It is no easy task to make Australia home again when you have served overseas for many years. In fact, the ‘reverse culture shock’ you experience on return can often be more disorientating than adjusting to a brand-new culture overseas. In this month’s blog series, we are going to drop in on four former Pioneers missionaries and see how they are faring with life now that they are no longer missionaries.
Kaitlin is a bright, kind and hard-working young Christian woman. She was captain of her high school last year, and finished Year 12 as dux of the school. Now at university, and working part-time in a Christian bookshop (which she loves), it would be easy to think that the world is her oyster. But Kaitlin has her own identity struggles to wrestle with, as she tries to find her place in a city and culture so different from the one she grew up in. We asked Kaitlin a few questions about her life:
What did missions look like for you?
Being a young child when my family first went out as missionaries, I saw missions as a great adventure where I got to live in a foreign country. As time went on, missions and living overseas became normal life for me.
What does life look like now?
I am currently living in Melbourne, Australia and studying Science and Global Studies at university.
What was your transition like?
I found transition challenging. There was a lot of things to adjust to and I missed my friends. I think one of the main challenges was having to redefine my identity. Was I Australian? Or was I something else? I felt so different to other Australian children my age. But if I wasn’t an Australian kid then what was I? These were the questions that I found myself asking as I tried to adjust to a country that I had always called my own but now discovered was foreign to me.
What has stayed with you from your overseas culture?
I think one quirky thing that has stayed with me is my food cravings. Instead of craving McDonalds, a treat in my house is to have South-East Asian food. I also find that I still want to walk on the wrong side of the footpath.
How has your missions experience helped to shape who you are?
I think God used my missions experience to give me a different perspective of the world. My mission experience really opened my eyes to the world outside of Australia. It deepened my relationship with my family. And it awakened in me a passion to help others. Ultimately, I think God used my missions experience to show me his heart for people and for me as a disciple.
Returned missionaries, both young and old, bring home with them a wealth of life experience, but it can seem to have little or no relevance to their Australian life. How can we as their friends, families and churches help them make this difficult transition? Perhaps the best place to start is just by understanding that even while we feel happy to have them home, they might still be grieving the home they have lost.