Our oldest son Carter is a senior, and recently we were talking through an essay he had to write for a scholarship application. I suggested he write about some of the challenges of overseas living.
I thought for a moment. “Oh, you know, like the electricity. How it’s always going off.”
He shrugged. “Then it comes back on.”
I listed off a few other struggles from my Challenges of Overseas Living list.
Again, the shrug. “Mom, it’s not challenging for me to live here. This is home. I like it.”
Our kids have strong feelings about living in Indonesia – good feelings – and I often forget that because life here feels so hard to me. Of course, my husband and I provide a buffer for our kids so they don’t experience all the difficulties that we do. But there’s a lot they do experience, and they usually take it in stride better than we do.
Why did I ever think my kids might suffer for living overseas? Why did I mourn the fact that they would miss out on Little League and Krispy Kreme, when they much prefer catching snakes and eating nasi bungkus? Why did I think I might want to shelter them from any kind of risk or danger that comes from living overseas? Sure, Carter’s had malaria, missed his grandparents, and had to say goodbye over and over to close friends, but in the wise words of Dory from Finding Nemo – “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
This process of preparing Carter to return to the USA for college has reminded me of just what a blessed life he’s had here. He’s traveled the world, snorkeled in pristine coral reefs, had friends from many different nations, learned another language, and seen firsthand over and over the LORD provide for our family.
My third-culture kid – fully American with all rights and privileges, but raised in Indonesia, and so not really belonging wholly to either place – is about to leave this home he’s known for the past 15 years of his life. There will no doubt be lapses in his knowledge of life in America, but I don’t think he would trade his growing up as an MAF missionary kid for the world.