The Thing About Rice Cookers

Two worlds converge in a college cafeteria


It was a rice cooker. A simple, industrial, extra-large rice cooker, steam pouring from the lid. My eyes welled with tears as I stared at this particular cooking vessel.

I was waiting for lunch at my college cafeteria, and I struggled to hold myself together as I went through the line, got my food, and hurried back to my table.


Why had a rice cooker, of all things, made me so emotional?

I was a freshman at college, in the middle of a difficult second semester. It was also my first year living full-time in the States, repatriating as a MAF missionary kid (MK) from Indonesia. My transition to American and college life had initially been smooth, but the homesickness was always there—hovering darkly and threatening to spring upon me at any moment.

My family ate a lot of rice in Indonesia—it was cheap, easily accessible, and a staple for almost all Indonesians. Childhood memories flooded my mind as I looked at the rice cooker in my college cafeteria.

My struggles with homesickness, the longing for the familiar—my family, old friends, pets, my tropical island home, even the food—were erratic and never predictable. I would be completely fine one day, as I went to classes and hung out with my new college friends, and the next day, something as mundane as a rice cooker would have me weeping over my salad in the cafeteria.

Homesickness, especially the type MKs encounter, is never fun to deal with and is simply a part of living in our broken world. However, I would never trade my unique upbringing as a MAF MK for anything. My parents bravely lived out their calling to serve Jesus in a remote corner of the planet, and as a result we got to personally see the profound impact MAF has had on so many people.

The deep blessing of experiencing this in Indonesia is worth the homesickness, worth the pain of my heart striving to live in two worlds at once.

I’ve learned, and I’m still learning, to rest in the peace of knowing that God has a beautiful plan for my life and is consistent when my emotions are not. He sees and understands the hurt that comes with leaving a place and people you love and attempting to rebuild a home in a new and often daunting environment.


  • June Erlandson says:

    Grace is gifted! Her words are wise and her emotions / 💜are shared by many sometimes when we least except it!

  • Nancy says:

    Thank you for being transparent – well done

  • Robyn Banegas (Perkins) says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am a PK who moved a lot and never got to settle into one place until I was an adult. I have such conflicting emotions sometimes, missing friends and places I used to live, while at the same time, loving the new place I live in. Also, I taught math at HIS for two years and saw first hand the MK life. It’s not easy, but it’s also very rewarding. I pray you thrive in college but also know that it’s totally ok to miss home 😊

    • Grace Holsten says:

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Robyn! I completely understand what you’re saying about conflicting emotions. That’s so cool that you taught at HIS; I loved my time there.

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