Where is home for a TCK? This question puzzles most mission workers’ kids (MK) and third-culture kids (TCK). Their lives have been defined by going back and forth between fields of service and the birthplace of their parents. “Where is home?” may be common question for all people. However, before and during “home” assignment or furlough, MKs/TCKs may see a difference between their “home” and their parents’ “home.”
Often “home” is rooted in where kids spend their developmental years. When adults talk about “going home” from the field to their home country, the kids talk about “going home” when they are preparing to return to the field. It is not uncommon for MKs/TCKs to tell their parents as they prepare for “home” assignment, “For you it’s going home, but for me it’s leaving home.”
After many moves and transitions, MKs/TCKs can relate “home” to people rather than a place. Making the old adage “home is where the heart is” true for these kids. The places where they grew up will always hold a special place in their hearts. Often when they have opportunity to return to the field for a visit, even after many years, it can feel like going home. Some return as adults to live in the places where they grew up, but in most cases they learn to feel “at home” in their parents’ home country or other countries around the world.
Some years ago a sixth grader at Faith Academy in the Philippines, a school for children of mission workers, had a very insightful and positive understanding of this phenomenon when she wrote the following poem:
World Child #
Where is home?
Where do I belong?
Why, the world is mine. I’m a child of the King.
No walls, no boundaries to forever fence me in,
Many colors, many cultures,
Faces that turn into friends.
It’s tough to say goodbye,
Leaving part of me behind.
But it’s good to have known and loved these special friends I’ll have forever.
And I’ll add even more in every new home.
Whirlo, furlough; miles racing by.
Home again? Strange places, new faces.
Smiling, smiling, answering questions,
“Cute accent!” “My, how you’ve grown!”
New experiences to grow with. It’s all worth it.
Real riches are mine that money can’t buy.
Friends from many nations, new languages to use.
Different rules I must learn.
New problems I must face.
The world is real to me. I’m a WORLD CHILD.
(# Naomi Podmore, re-printed from Scamps, Scholars and Saints, edited by Roger and Jill Dyer.)
Our REAL Home
There is another, deeper aspect to this subject when we stop to consider where our real Home is, something that would be helpful for all MKs/TCKs to have deeply implanted in their heart. I was reminded of this one time in the Philippines when I had to re-apply for a “temporary resident” visa in order to stay in the country. I realized that we are all “temporary residents” in this world. Our citizenship is actually in heaven! We are all on temporary visas in this world! I used to teach our young MKs-to-be that our real home is in the Lord Jesus. We are at home wherever in the world we might be when He is in our hearts.
See other resources about MKs/TCKs:
- OC MKs Answer FAQs (video)
- Far-flung flock comes together at PEP
- Surprises, laughter and learning — teaching in the Philippines
Read other articles from Diane:
Diane Morris served with One Challenge as an elementary school teacher and counselor for 28 years at Faith Academy in the Philippines. Then she served OC families (training, caregiving, and traveling to the fields) from the US Mobilization Center in Colorado Springs for 23 years (1991-2014). Now retired, she continues to volunteer at OC.
For more, see Journey with TCKs.