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* On being an MK. Still.

December 25, 2018
MKs

MKs (Missionary Kids) are interesting folks. I should know as I am one. Notice the verb there. “I am one.” For reasons, I don’t understand once an MK, always an MK. Not an AMK (“Adult MK”), but MK. Not “was” an MK, but am an MK. I really don’t know why this is? I certainly was an MK for awhile (1966-1976), but let’s face it, that’s been a while ago–like 40+ years–I just turned 61. So why do I still agree with the statement “I am an MK”? I’m not sure.  Was something frozen in time back then? Maybe. It was a pretty big and very impactful part of my life. As it’s greatly impacted the life of others who are also MKs.

But am I still really an MK? Nope. I was. Back then. But not now. And in my case my wife and I went overseas ourselves as missionaries for a while (for longer than when I was an MK), raising who were then 3 amazing MKs of our own who are now also adults. And still, I am an MK. What gives?

Let’s go back to the beginning of it all. When I was in 2nd grade, my folks were encouraged to become Lutheran missionaries, teachers at a school for missionary kids in Madagascar, by some of their close friends who were already there doing this. After serious thoughts and prayers, they agreed and so (after a very complicated and slow packing, selling, Visa waiting, etc. process) there we went (I had a brother who was entering 1st grade and then a younger one not old enough yet for school). At some point, my parents’ Commissioning day maybe, my two brothers and I became MKs. And for the next 10 years, that’s what we were. For me, this was from 3rd through 12th grade, including my 8th grade year  when we lived in the US on “furlough.” All the way to the end of my Senior year of high school, when my whole family moved back to the US. I was off to college, they to a new life in south Minneapolis. 

At the time I came home in 1976 I remember I didn’t want to be an MK any longer. Just another Freshman in College was all I was seeking to be. But it wasn’t as easy as just taking all the MK part of me and packing it away in boxes in a corner somewhere. There were a lot of things to deal with I wasn’t at all aware of at the time. Things I would have benefited from having worked through back then. But that’s not how our missionary organization did things back then.

In those days missionaries were given up to two years of language preparation (for Madagascar French then  Malagasy), but then basically dropped back into life in these United States–something not easy for children and their parents. Preparation and maybe reentry for parents, but for kids, not so much. So those of us who were MKs did what we could with what we had and knew, doing our best to work around the rest. Did it work? Sort of. At least for most of us eventually. Was it enough? No. But it’s how it was done back in those days.

Since then a lot more has been learned about MKs and the importance of reentry. I wish we’d had access to it back then.

So here I remain. An MK from way back in the ’60s and ’70s who in some interesting and some complicated, some blessed and some dysfunctional, some deeply knowlegable and some amazingly naive ways still am one today.

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