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Patience and Mercy under a Baobab tree. The village pictured just received water for the first time, see the tank in the background. Until this day, they walked a fourteen mile round trip journey to an unclean water source. Every day, seven miles with an empty bucket and seven miles back with a full bucket of dirty water. Today, this day, they turned a faucet, they had to be shown how it worked, and clean water flowed into their hands.

This is my last blog on TCK’s. I recommend anyone interested in it, even if is for nothing more than understanding and/or encouraging your missionaries, read the book, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by Ruth E. Van Reken , David C. Pollock. Denise and I read it twice and still find it helpful. We purchased our home in Florida based on the advice in this book!

In a nutshell, my kids and others we know state the negative aspects of growing up as a TCK/MK are:

Loss of identity: TCKs often struggle with their sense of identity as they have grown up in different cultures and have been exposed to various influences. They may feel like they don't belong anywhere or struggle with their sense of belonging.

Difficulty with relationships: TCKs may find it challenging to form lasting relationships, as they have grown accustomed to moving frequently and saying goodbye to friends. They may also struggle with cultural differences in relationships, which can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications.

Feeling of isolation: TCKs may feel isolated as they may not have a strong sense of community or support network. They may struggle to find people who understand their unique experiences and struggles. They feel like outsiders in every group.

Cultural confusion: TCKs may struggle with cultural confusion as they may not know which cultural norms and values to follow. They may also feel like they are constantly adapting to new cultures, which can be exhausting. They send the wrong messages or read the wrong messages nonverbally. They do not understand or meet expectations.

Emotional detachment: TCKs may struggle with emotional detachment as they have become accustomed to leaving people and places behind. This detachment can make it difficult for them to form deep emotional connections with others. Too many goodbyes cause them to stop saying hello.

Lack of stability: Finally, TCKs may struggle with a lack of stability in their lives. They may not have a sense of home or a stable support system, which can be difficult to cope with emotionally. This goes with no identity. They do not know who they are or where they belong.

The top benefits of being a TCK/MK are:

Experiencing God’s work firsthand: Most TCK/MK’s speak of this. They believe it is/was beneficial to grow up in a home where Jesus truly was the Lord of the House. Participating in God’s kingdom changed their values in every area of life, especially in materialism and financial stewardship.

Multilingualism: One of the most significant benefits of being a TCK is the opportunity to learn multiple languages. As TCKs are often exposed to different cultures and languages, they have a higher chance of becoming fluent in multiple languages. This skill is not only useful in communication but also helps in personal and professional growth.

Adaptability: TCKs have the ability to adapt to new environments and situations quickly. This adaptability stems from being exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, which makes it easier to navigate new experiences in life.

Open-mindedness: TCKs have a broader perspective on the world and are often more accepting of diversity. They are more open to different ideas, lifestyles, and cultures, which can be a valuable asset in a globalized world. They do not possess a single country worldview. Instead they process information through two or more frameworks. TCKs have a global perspective on the world, which can be a valuable asset in a globalized world. They are more likely to understand and appreciate the complexities of different cultures, languages, and lifestyles, which can be useful in personal and professional relationships.

Global network: Growing up in different countries, TCKs build a diverse network of friends and acquaintances from different cultures and backgrounds. This network can be beneficial in both personal and professional life.

Resilience: TCKs have faced challenges in their lives, such as adapting to new cultures or making new friends in each new location. This experience makes them more resilient, adaptable, and better equipped to handle difficult situations in life.

Empathy: TCKs are more likely to have empathy towards others as they have experienced different cultures and lifestyles. This trait is valuable in personal and professional relationships and can help to build trust and rapport.

Creativity: TCKs often develop creative problem-solving skills as they adapt to new situations and environments. This creativity can be useful in personal and professional life.

Independence: TCKs often have a higher degree of independence than their peers as they have had to navigate different environments and cultures on their own. This skill can be helpful in personal and professional life, as well as in building confidence.

In closing, I asked ChatGPT to tell me some positive things about TCKs. It focused on the fact that TCK's often become leaders within organizations or their own businesses. Here is what Mr. GPT said.

They have a cultural diversity that unites differences. The world population is now estimated in excess of 7.3 billion people and the nature of cultural identity is also evolving at a rapid pace. Developed nations have an increasingly multi-cultural society. This creates a number of social challenges, as cultural differences breed variable expectations and misconceptions. Third culture children are therefore ideally placed to lead multi-cultural societies, as they have a greater understanding of these differences and practical experience that can enable them to inspire unity.

They are easy to identify with as leaders. On a similar note, the cultural diversity of third culture kids makes them easier to identify with across a broader demographic of people. This has huge merit in multi-cultural communities, where those with a third culture background can share their experiences and unique insights to connect with individuals on a deeply personal level. While voters tended to elect candidates that shared their background in regions where one culture was dominant, mixed communities tended to select politicians with a more diverse cultural background.

They have the practical skills to communicate with people from various cultures. By their very nature, third culture children tend to have advanced linguistic skills. Not only will they speak their parents’ language, for example, but they are also required to learn the verbiage and dialects of their adopted country. This can even inspire a thirst for knowledge that inspires them to learn more languages, as they embark on a course of higher education and their career. This translates into a practical leadership skill, as TCK’s find it easier to communicate with people of various nationalities and origins whether they are looking to mediate or interact with an international team of employees.

They have an innate understanding of remote communication and its platforms. Not only can third culture kids interact in various languages and dialects, but they are also well-versed in contemporary communication techniques and platforms. With friends and relatives living across numerous continents, they are forced to use instant messenger and video call resources regularly in order to maintain contact while also reducing living costs. Modern communication tools play pivotal roles in driving global businesses and political movements, so those in positions of leadership must have knowledge of how to use them to their fullest potential.

They are well-suited to managing change. No matter how or where you apply your leadership skills, one of the key requirements is that you are able to effectively manage change. This is something that comes naturally to third culture kids, who at some point in their infancy are forced to relocate and adapt to a new and entirely unfamiliar cultural environment. This creates a stronger and more robust mental focus, which enables individuals to cope better with change and empower others to do the same. As leaders, this demographic is able to empathize with the negative impacts of change and manage these in a way that helps those who are struggling.

They are constantly seeking knowledge and understanding. In some respects, TCK’s are rootless. This is not necessarily a negative thing, however, as the lack of a fixed cultural identity tends to encourage curiosity and empowers individuals to seek out their own sense of belonging. As a result of this, third culture children are constantly seeking out knowledge and understanding, as they look to carve their own unique place in the world. This translates well into leadership, where those with the responsibility for others must embark on a path of relentless self-improvement and constant learning.

They are likely to have grown up with a strong business background. Children born to powerful parents in the worlds of business and commerce are among the most likely to become third culture kids. An estimated 63% f this demographic lived overseas for a period of 10 years or more, while the majority have also resided in more than two nations. As a result of this, third culture children grow up with an in-depth understanding of business and its demands, making them ideally equipped to evolve into a wide diversity of leadership roles during adulthood.

There you have it. ChatGPT agrees with me. TCK/MK’s have a unique life. That life presents them with significant challenges and emotional hurdles. However, it also can be used by God to forge awesome Christ Followers and Cultural Leaders. The bottom line is the same as anyone. If we let Jesus have our joys and sorrows, He will bless them both. He will use them to help us and in turn help others through us.

My hope in these four articles is you can get some insight into what we parents deal with in our children. It is hard. It is painful. We suffer loss. Right now, Patience and Mercy are so alone and feel so lonely. We just arrived on a new continent. It is their third one to live on. They do not have friends and the five hour time difference makes communication with family and friends in States or Bolivia difficult. It is hard for mom and dad to see sad kids.

I hope you share this with your mission committees and teams. Share it with those in charge of your mission programs. Pass it along to missionaries and agencies. Maybe it can give some direction of ministry.

Lastly, look for ways to tangibly encourage MK's. Let them know you at least want to understand their path. Seek to bless them, encourage them, pray for them.

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