[31 Days] Day 9 Honor

It’s Day 9 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


There are moments when I would really like to be a chameleon. 
Moments when I don’t want to be white, where black would be so much more convenient.
Where I could just blend in and be treated like everyone else.

I remember that one time in Uganda when we were invited to a wedding. 
Basically, the whole village is invited to the wedding and the party has like 500 people. 
We were the only ones with an oven in town, so we made the wedding cake. It was several layers high, so that everyone got at least a tiny little bit of it. 

The funny thing was that we didn’t even know the couple. 
We brought the cake and then hoped we could just find a seat somewhere in the back to watch the ceremony.

Well, we were wrong.

As soon as the father of the bride spotted a bit of white skin in the sea of black faces, he ran up to us and beckoned us to come in front. 
No excuse was good enough, we had to come and sit in front. 
In the very front. 
With the bridal couple we had never met before.

They were so honored to have us there, to have the white missionaries attend their wedding and bring a cake full of sugary sweetness. 
They honored us by seating us in front, expressing their joy and cultural traditions with this gesture.

I can’t deny my skin color and it might take a long time until they would treat me like one of them. 
But a first step might be for me to honor the traditions they had just opened up for me. And more importantly, honor the people behind them. 

What are some of the things you had to learn and honor in a new culture? What do you appreciate most about it?

[31 Days] Day 7 Taste

It’s Day 7 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


You haven’t lived in a country until you have tasted its food. 
It shows you how people eat, cook and live.

When we used to go out in Uganda I normally ordered posho. 
People would look at me, it was the food of the poor. But I just loved that white tasteless bloc of maize meal.

Until today food is one of the main things that sets off my memories of Uganda. 

The smell of pineapple, the taste of fresh mango. 
The feeling of rice and beans in your fingers, the ground nut sauce. 
And no matter how hard I try I just can’t get the taste right in my own kitchen.

South Africa wouldn’t be the same without its legendary braais. 

Fire at the beach, boere wors, tons of meat, and amazing people. No better way to celebrate Christmas.:)

In the midst of fast food madness the US has some great things to offer. 
Like a bagel for breakfast or some biscuits for brinner (yes, Americans sometimes have breakfast for dinner). 
Like the thanksgiving richness or Christmas deliciousness. 
I am so grateful for wonderful friends who let me tag along for these experiences!

What are your favorite recipes from around the world? 
Please share so we can all satisfy our food cravings! 🙂

[31 Days] Day 6 Teach

It’s Day 6 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


The best thing about growing up abroad is the people. 
They make other cultures come alive. 
They can drive you crazy but they also teach you so much. 

There’s a fact: Public transportation in the American South is scarce to non-existant. Coming from Germany this was quite an adjustment suddenly being dependent on walking everywhere. But even more, being showered in blessings from new American friends. 
They drove me to the mall even though they didn’t even have to go shopping.
They picked me up no matter how late it was.
They threw over their inner time tables to have coffee with me and catch up.
They made their love practical and acted on what they preached.

There’s a saying: Europeans have got the watches, but Africans have the time. 
This is quite true. 
A meeting is not only about getting things done but about seeing you. 
The person. 
The story behind the face. 

They taught me how to eat sugar cane like a pig, how to really listen to people. 

How to stay calm when your bus is delayed for five hours. 
How to cook maize pap without lumps. 
How to be so poor on the outside and yet so amazingly rich on the inside, drawing from never ending inner depths and strengths.  

They have shown me how to dance in the rain and always see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What are the most memorable things you have learned in another culture? 

[31 Days] Day 4 Learn

It’s Day 4 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. And don’t forget to subscribe and follow the journey!

Come on, just do it and throw the ball. 
Ask them their names, ask them about the weather, about anything. 
Make some small talk. 
O wait, they don’t understand a word I’m saying. 
They don’t look like me. They’re so different from me. 
Or am I different from them?
It’s interesting how simple things can become the scariest steps out of a sudden. 
Ordinary things like playing ball with other kids can be a real adventure when you don’t speak their language and have no idea about how life works around here.

Slowly I made my first steps in the Ugandan culture. 

Playing ball with our neighbors, visiting other kids, trying to find a rhythm again.
It was like starting all over. 

I was a little child again, having to learn a new language and getting to know people. 
You quickly realize that language is so much more than new words and sounds. 
It’s a code of behavior, a stream of thoughts, a way of life.
You’re no longer on the inside and part of an established group. 

Your differences made you the outsider looking in. 
Making you want to observe and learn and belong.

The habit of observing and taking it all in is something I still practice and treasure until today. 
And I guess many TCKs agree that we don’t just want to look in from the outside. 

We long to belong. 

And this might take a while to observe from the background, learning the codes, and tuning our lives to these new rhythms. 

Do you remember your first steps in a new country? Share them with us! 

[31 Days] Day 2 View

It’s Day 2 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

After a sad goodbye and completely overweight bags in Frankfurt we got on a plan heading south. We got stuck in Brussels and were between nervous, tired, and excited for what would await us.

Eventually, late at night, we got into Entebbe, Uganda. 
We stepped onto the airfield into the African night. 

The first glimpse of African soil. 

The first smell of smoked fish and red sand. 
The first breeze of fresh air from Lake Victoria.

The next day we could see things at day light. 

The first drive into the city, crowded with people, cars, motor bikes, and chicken running around . 

And then the two hour drive on streets full of potholes and stones. 

Seeing banana plants and cheering people. 
And finally the first view of the place I’d be calling home for the next two years. 

I will always remember that first view. 

There’s nothing like seeing Africa for the first time. 
Even when I returned to the continent six years later to South Africa it was the exact same feeling.
That first view is enough. 

Enough to welcome me, to feel like where I’m supposed to be.

What are your first memories when you stepped onto new ground?

[31 Days] Day 1 Move

It’s October and the writing adventure begins….It’s Day 1 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


I thought my dad was out of his mind. 
He couldn’t be serious.

“We are going to move to Uganda. I feel that God has called me to do ministry there.”

A phrase TCKs are all too familiar with. Move.
The sentence after might differ, may it be that the parents felt called by God. 
May it be that their assignment within the military had changed. 
May it be that some new fancy business or diplomatic position was awaiting them.

The result is the same. 
They’re going to move and you as their child have to move, too.
Pack your things yet again, fit all your belongings into one suitcase. 
It’s not your first time, so you’re an expert in that already.
Saying goodbye to friends and places once more, not knowing if or when you’ll ever see them again.

I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to step out into the world again. 
I was a teenager who had just changed schools and discovered new places, friends, music, teenage culture. 
I didn’t want to leave the thing behind I had called home.  
I wasn’t ready for this feeling.

It’s that feeling of being pulled by the roots, forcefully removed from a place of comfort. 

About to be planted into unknown ground.
That mixture of wild emotions, somewhere between anger, sadness, despair. 
And a tiny bit of hope. 
Hope that your roots will touch new and better ground.
And so it begins.

(I have to add that this was just the very beginning of the journey, about a year before we actually left for Uganda. In that year God surely worked miracles in all three of us children. He turned our rejection into excitement and we were finally ready to go; yes, actually wanted to go. Miracles still do happen, folks.) 

How did your parents tell you about moves? What were your reactions? 

Welcome to 31 Days!

Welcome to 31 Days in the Life of a TCK!

In the midst of state board examinations, organizing weddings and birthdays I have boldly accepted the challenge of writing every day in the month of October. 
Yup, we’ll see how it goes…:)

However, I am not alone in this endeavor: I am linking up with Kate Motaung, who you might know as host of Five Minute Friday
The posts won’t be that long so you can read along easily. You can find the direct links to individual posts below.
And of course, there will still be normal Five Minute Friday posts on Fridays. 🙂  

I am also linking up with TheNester, the platform for all the people taking part in the challenge as well. There are about 1000 of them writing on all kinds of topics – why don’t you go check out a few of them!

The topic I have chosen for this challenge is 31 Days in the Life of a TCK.

TCK stands for Third Culture Kids – people who grew up in multiple cultures, incorporating different elements in their lives, feeling they could belong everywhere and nowhere. You will hear stories about the different stages in my life (Germany-Uganda-Germany-South Africa-Germany-USA-Germany-…) and what I have learned along the way. You will get a glimpse into what it means to live between worlds and what TCKs might enjoy or struggle with. Even better, I hope to get some other voices of dear friends on board, too. Different countries, but with similar experiences and great insight. 
You can find more information on TCKs here. Otherwise just ask! 

I hope you enjoy going on this journey with me! 
I am not just writing for myself, but would love to hear from you. So share your questions, thoughts, experiences…

[Five Minute Friday] Belong

It was nearly twelve years ago.
We had just come back to Germany, and even though it had only been two years – this time in Uganda had turned my world upside down. I had left as a child and came back as an adult.

Now I sat in a classroom with people I didn’t know, who spoke of things I didn’t know.
I paid with a currency I didn’t know as ‘German’.
I didn’t laugh at any jokes because I had no idea what ‘normal’ teenagers would laugh at.
I was incredibly tired of people asking me how Uganda had been (Have you seen elephants and snakes? Did you kill a lion? Do you speak ‘African’ now?), but as soon as I said no, they lost interest.

I felt utterly lost and in the wrong place.
All I wanted was to belong.
Isn’t that what we all want? I believe it’s a core longing in a human being.
To know who I was, what I could and couldn’t do.
To be me and others to be okay with it.

And it happened.
On a camp in the middle of nowhere, on a weekend with a lot of rain.
A group of people who had grown up in Russia, Brazil, Tanzania, or Egypt – all stranded in their ‘home culture’ Germany and having now clue about anything.
As soon as we started talking we clicked.
No matter where you have lived, no matter how long you’ve been gone, no matter how old you are – you are one of them.

We are all Third Culture Kids.
We feel lost in every single culture we have lived in, as if we don’t fit in any of them.
So we build our own space where we can find safety; a place we can call home.
Where we can be ourselves, as crazy, funny, or sad it might be.

This is a place to belong. And it is to this day.
Faces might have changed, people have grown up.
But as soon as I meet fellow TCKs face-to-face or via email/phone/skype, it is always the same feeling.
A feeling of belonging. Of family. Of home.

An hommage to my beloved TCK family – but I am also linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. One word. Write for five minutes. Don’t edit and share!

[Five Minute Friday] Garden

This week’s prompt is a bit of a challenge; I might have to start off with a confession: I am not a garden person. Every plant I ever had died sooner or later, since I forgot to water them, take care of them or didn’t realize what they needed.

Given this lack of gardening skills I am not sure I’ll have a garden later on.
Even though I’d want to.
Gardens are beautiful places.
Of rest.
Of amazement.
Of richness.
Of teaching.

I cannot help letting my mind wander off to the garden we had in Uganda.
A house surrounded by huge mango trees and casava plants. In between you’d also find a few passion fruit trees finding their way along house walls or other trees. And little islands with the most amazing and diverse flowers I had ever seen. I am really bad with names, but their colors were so bright, their shapes were so extraordinary. What a place to just lie in the grass and let your thoughts wander. Take a nap, while the sun warms your face.
This garden is a symbol for a few happy and carefree childhood days.

I go further to the garden we had around our farm in South Africa.
Peach and lemon trees stood around the little swimming pool, which provided a welcome refreshment on hot summer days. We spent countless hours taking the kids into the water, teaching them how to swim and having fun. I spent quite a few mornings there, with my guitar and my bible, to meet the Lord, to hear from him. My team leader would say this garden is her little piece of paradise where God would just speak.
This garden was a place for rest, for meeting the Lord. For letting him teach me about himself and the beautiful creation he has put me in.

In gardens we can see HIM at work. In the seeds that are planted and need a while to grow. In the little plants that slowly grow bigger and reveal their rich colors. In plants dying and finishing the cycle of life. And in the hands of a skilled gardener who tends to his plants, who prunes them so they can continue to grow, become stronger, and shine for their creator.

Aren’t we also a bit like that? And do we allow the master gardener to fulfill his work in us?

This prompt was given by Lisa-Jo Baker on her amazing blog. She also has a great garden project coming up in South Africa- you should check it out!

[Five Minute Friday] Fight

It’s a new year and Five Minute Friday is back! So here we go…

If you’re not into boxing then fighting doesn’t seem attractive in life. No one would look for a fight where there isn’t any, none of us appreciates struggle. And yet, when we look back on our lives it isn’t really important that we fought but how we dealt with difficulties and their results.

I am the firstborn in my family which gives me the privilege and also burden to try new things first. Moving out, going overseas, driving a car, looking for a job…There were quite a few situations I stood in front of a fight and wondered: Do I pick this fight or do I back down? What if I fail? What will come after the fight?

I remember when we came back from Uganda and had quite a rough start back home. Stranded in a small village. Suddenly no connection to the big, exciting world. No friends. No church. Even this first year was pretty hard I now realize it helped me to explore my leadership skills as well as first steps in worship leadings, preaching, or authentic Christian life.
I remember flying to South Africa after highschool graduation for a year of uncertainty, with strangers in yet unknown surroundings. Not every day was easy, joyful and exciting – yet it was the most impacting year of my life, shaping my personality, heart and soul and faith.
In retrospect my life often seems like an up and down of good and bad times. But only because I went through some tough and challenging times I can now appreciate the good ones even more.

And I remember the image of a bamboo. It looks a bit like a string of individual pieces glued together. In between the thinner parts there are thick knots. The reason is fairly simple if you look at the size bamboos can have, some of them can grow as high as 38 meters . The reason are these little knots, which stabilize the bamboo and enable it to grow even higher. Each knot means more growth, more life.

The bamboo it might serve as a good illustration for our lives. Some tough times might look like one of these knots, when we seem to be stuck with a problem or situation, when we fight with something over and over again. But later on we realize that such knots are necessary to enable new growth, new life, new depth.

So let’s move forward. Let’s pick our fights wisely, and remember the growth and depth we’ll get out of them.

It’s Friday again, and this means that the writing community at Lisa-Jo Baker‘s website is back! Go check it out!