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Field Story North America

The Heartbeat of Care

"The challenges, crazy adventures, yummy food, deep friendships, loneliness…the experiences go on and on. This connection that MKs have together is sacred. "

It was early in the morning, and I was only on my first cup of coffee, when one of our Missionary Kids (MKs) came and sat down beside me during the first morning of our retreat. With her feet curled up under her and her own cup of coffee she gave me a big smile that lit up her face. It was apparent that her time with other MKs and with Bill and I was just what she had been longing for. Over the next hour we had the sweetest conversation about school, roommates, relationships—you name it.

We ate, we talked, we ate, and then we played games, and then we ate some more! It was glorious! But hands down the best part was seeing our MKs deeply connect through sharing their stories. Each story beautifully unique and yet they found common ground through their shared experiences. The challenges, crazy adventures, yummy food, deep friendships, loneliness…the experiences go on and on. This connection that MKs have together is sacred. It is something that we want our MKs to regularly be a part of. We simply call our retreat, “Together” because we are sold out on creating this space for our kids.

For twelve years now, MKs have been our life. When Bill was 18 years old, God began stirring a love for youth ministry that is still being stirred today! I never would have believed 38 years ago that God would take our family to Africa. In 2010 we moved our family to Rift Valley Academy in Kenya to be dorm parents at a boarding school for missionary kids. Raising our own four sons in a dorm full of 22 ninth and tenth grade boys was an adventure to say the least! These are some of our sweetest memories and some of our hardest.

We are so thankful for those six years in Kenya. As we were transitioning off the field, we had the privilege of being Missionaries in Residence at John Brown University—essentially, we were youth pastors to 130 college MKs on their campus! The school paid for the food we prepared to feed the 50-70 students who came every Wednesday (that was an undertaking)! This is when God began to reveal to us that He wanted us to come along MKs through the transition back to the US for college. We’ve learned whether you grew up in undeveloped areas, like “the bush” in Africa, or the beautiful streets of Prague, this is a major transition! The Lord has provided that opportunity through Avant! We are grateful that at the heartbeat of who Avant is, they care. They care for their members and that includes their MK's. 

January was our first-ever Together retreat, something we hope will become a more regular time of fellowship for our MK’s. At our January retreat we had MKs who grew up in Europe, Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Pretty diverse for a small group numbering under a dozen. Yet in all this diversity, we saw great unity. The retreat went by too quickly. Sitting knee to knee, with our MKs, sharing openly and getting a peek into their hearts and lives…well, I would say this is our sweet spot. God continues to allow us to walk alongside MK’s, whether that is in Africa or right here in Kansas City, whether in person or from miles away, we are grateful!

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