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TCK 2


(continued from previous blog)


We just celebrated Easter. Patience talked over lunch and said, “You know something? This is the third Easter celebrated on a different continent in three years. Three years ago we were in North America for Easter. Last year we celebrated in South America, in Bolivia. Today we are in Tamale, Northern Ghana in Africa. Three Easters. Three Continents. Three Years.”


We went to Immigration for visa work a couple of weeks ago and Mercy said, “This is my third passport since I was born and I have 22 visa stamps in it.” Patience’s passport is two years old and she has 24.


Welcome to the life of a Third Culture Kid. I mentioned last time they had a unique life.


When the girls were preschool age, I walked in on them playing pretend. They turned over a clothes basket to be their countertop. Mercy sat on one side and first Patience, then Joy walked up to the other. They slid a folded sheet of paper across the ‘counter’. Mercy picked it up, opened it and looked at it. She then looked at them, and it once more. She mumbled a question and they mumbled an answer. She sighed as if she hated her job, picked up her stamp off her ‘desk’ and stamped it, then casually slid it back and said, “Next”.


“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Playing passport.” They answered. Mercy was three.


I took Joy with me on a trip to visit other missionaries when she was 11. We checked out of our hotel in downtown Mexico city. I looked at her and said. “Okay. You are in charge. Get us home. I will not say a word unless you ask me.”


She hailed a taxi and bargained over the price. We went to the airport. She looked and found the right place and checked us in. After check in, we had to take a train to the international terminal. To board the train we showed an officer our passports and boarding passes. At the international terminal we went through immigration, turned in our tax forms, and made it to our gate.


She did it all. It was also all in Spanish since we were in Mexico. I did not say a single word until we sat down at our gate. Remember, she was 11.


TCK’s develop different skillsets than other children. Patience and Mercy will be trilingual and know how to read Arabic. I remember when Ben returned to the States. He could do mechanic work and built a dugout canoe in the Amazon, but did not know how to use a credit card.


For a kid, you just feel awkward and silly not knowing how to do something which is so much a part of normal life. Normal if you are Blue. Ben is Green. He was 18 years old and never saw a credit for debit card. He felt like a moron.


Our kids have been over 17,000’ high on a mountain peak, swam in the Amazon jungle, and shared Christ in sub-Saharan villages, but have never been part of a youth club or organization. Wild monkeys jumped from trees onto their shoulders, but they never had a job or drove a car. They speak multiple languages but do not understand non-verbal cues in their passport country.


They are Green.


Blue people (all color people) can be brutal to Non-Blue people. This is one of the reasons it is difficult to be a TCK. You find yourself, during puberty when all of life is topsy-turvy, without anyone who understands you.


I once joked about my two sons, David and Joshua. “They are Korean Americans, with Jewish names who grew up in Bolivia speaking Spanish. No need for therapy there.”


TCK’s struggle with a sense of identity. This is just one of the issues they face which puts a little more pressure on them than normal kiddos. I will talk some about that in my next blog.




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