[31 Days] Day 14 Work

It’s Day 14 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!


We finally found it. 
The one we can blame everything on. 
Our feeling lost in the world. 
Our in between states. 
Our pain of saying goodbye all the time. 

It has different names but it is the one got us to move abroad and become world citizens. 

The work of our parents. 
It might be called church, the government, the military, or a Christian organization.

I have talked to quite a few TCKs and we seem to have an ambiguous relationship to our parents’ work. 
Some are thankful because that’s what got them into this lifestyle in the first place. 
But far more hate it. 

They feel trapped in a system identity and feel like they don’t even exist outside the missions/military/foreigner bubble. 

They start hating their parents and their work. 
And maybe also the one who they make responsible for it, like other people or God.
Yup, there are downsides to this life and things to consider for everyone involved.

What were/are your experiences with your parents’ work?

[31 Days] Day 13 Fear

It’s Day 13 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! We are slowly moving deeper in the topic and looking into some issues TCKs might struggle with. 
Today another TCK friend Daniel Vedder is sharing his thoughts. Daniel grew up in Congo DR, Zambia and Germany. After finishing his schooling in Germany, he is currently doing a gap year back at his old school in Zambia.
You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe!
Everybody knows what it is, everybody has encountered it at some point. 
There are many different types of fear. 
Fear of snakes, fear of the dark, fear of death. 
And then there is the fear of the unknown. 
I think this is one particular fear that most TCKs can relate to.

I remember it only too well myself, returning to my passport country of Germany three years ago, after a childhood spent almost exclusively in Africa. 
I vividly recall stepping out of the airport and seeing the lights of the city of Frankfurt light up the night sky. 
And suddenly I felt fear – fear of what lay ahead, of the society that I would have to adapt to, but most of all simply a fear of the great unknown surrounding me.

And then again some weeks later, on the first day of school. 
After my small mission school of 100 pupils I was terrified as I walked into the new school, a huge maze of corridors and classrooms filled with a jostling throng of over a thousand students. 

These fears are only too common. 
New, unknown situations can be frightening – and as TCKs, we experience them all the time. 
But there is comfort. 
I remember that morning, on the first day of school, I stumbled upon the following verses in my devotions:

“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth and called from its farthest corners, saying to you: ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off’; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

(Isaiah 41:8-10, ESV)

Did/do you experience fear of the unknown ahead of you? 
How did/do you deal with it?

[31 Days] Day 12 Adjust

It’s Day 12 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


I knew this day had to come eventually, but I still wasn’t ready for it. 
No matter how much you prepare, it still hits you out of the blue. 
Culture shock.

The first months in South Africa were full of adventures. 

Every day I met new people, enjoyed driving on the left side, all the delicious food, or having late night conversations with my housemates. 
We had made us a home in this little wooden house, and all being away from loved ones around the globe we had become a family. 

And then they all left. 

Some went back home ay the end of their terms, other were reassigned to another base. Within two weeks our little community changed and I was by myself. 
And hit by a wave of culture shock, homesickness, and anger. 
Out of a sudden I resented everything.

photo credit: Ruth van Reken

In the transition process there are several stages and we need to go through all of them. There’s no recipe how long it will take, but we sure can’t skip one stage.
There is a time of excitement, newness, enjoyment. 

But after an initial honeymoon phase we hit the rock bottom of reality and suddenly feel overwhelmed by culture, people, everything. 
It’s definitely the toughest phase, and yet we need to live through it to get to re-adjustment and realizing that there’s life there after all. 

The key word is transition PROCESS, and as hard as living through it often is we hopefully will experience the depth that comes with it.

How did you live through transition – what was particularly hard and what helped you?

[31 Days] Day 11 Wake

It’s Day 11 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.


Nights at the beginning of rain season were the best.
I lay awake breathing quietly. 

Listening to the soothing sound of crickets in the dark. 
Sometimes a gecko would come along,too.
And then it came. 
There it was. 
Soft and quiet at first. 
The first rain after many months of drought, empty water tanks and yellow grass.
That sound of rain drops on the iron sheet roof was like music in my ears. 

And even as the rain got stronger and was beating hard I felt safe and cozy.

I still enjoy the sound of rain.
Even though my roof now is made of bricks and doesn’t make the drops resound like drums. 

But I also wake sometimes and remember friends in Uganda who live in huts with straw roofs and for whom every rain could entail the danger that their house might be washed away.

I still wrap my blankets closer around me and lay awake at night.
Rain is still nightly music to my ears and a reminder that the Lord takes care of us after dry reasons with his perfect rain of blessings.

Any other African TCKs around who share this experience?

[Five Minute Friday] Care

It’s another Friday, so I am linking up with the writer community at Kate Motaung‘s place.
This post is part 10 of the series “31 Days in the Life of a TCK”. 
Come join the whole conversation here. Don’t forget to subscribe! 

When we arrived in Uganda we were the only white family in the village. 
But this did not matter because we quickly grew into a new unique family with the people around us.

There were many neighbors around who came by to check out the Mzungus or to play ball. 
We always had tea and cake ready cause no day went by without spontaneous visitors. 
The village became a caring community. 

But also the people on the same compound were our family. 
One lady taught me how to play guitar since the only key instrument in the entire village was a very out of tune church organ. 
Another lady explained Latin syntax to me since I had been convinced that I had to learn Latin in homeschool. Yes, it was a pain but I have a – let’s say unique – relationship to this subject.  
These people, no matter the skin color, were our family. 
They took on roles of far away relatives and told us bedtime stories, they challenged us, they sometimes annoyed us. 
But they took care of us and made us a home away from home. 

 Whenever I moved I found this to be true. 
As soon as you step outside your comfort zone you’re out there. 
Away from home. And it is hard. 
But if you keep your eyes open you’ll find a new home. 
A community of fellow adventurers in South Africa. 
A group of students in Germany. 
A bunch of internationals living the American Dream.
You will find people who care for you if you allow yourself to open up and let them care for you. Away from comfort and familiarity you will find a surprising comfort in people you never suspected. 

Do you have people who take care of you where you are at the moment? 
And where can you be a person taking care of someone else? 

[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 8 Say

It’s Day 8 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

Today, someone else has a say on the blog. I am happy to introduce Johann Dürr to you, who I met at one of our TCK camps. He’s a TCK who grew up in Kazachstan and now is in Germany for his apprenticeship. I hope you enjoy his powerful words!

My brown eyes betray nothing
My average height (2,04m), my standard clothing –
Why you can’t help but think
I’m one of you
“Hello, how are you?” You say
“Hi, I’m fine.”
The culturally appropriate answer exits me effortlessly.
The conversation ensues
We both play along,
Content in the safe zone of small talk.
Then you ask
“Where are you from? I haven’t seen you around here before.”
I fake a smile and shift my weight,
Ever so slightly
I search your eyes
For only a second
And wonder
Do you really want to know?
I want to tell you everything,
But Experience has taught me
That in all likelihood
I will not fit in your box.
You see, by the age of 17
I’d lived in 5 countries.
My mom and dad
Raised me primarily in Kasachstan
Until I turned 13.
Then we moved to Germany for one year,
where the first time in my life
I was in a real school.
(before and after that only Homeschool)
After that we moved back to Central Asia…
At 18 I rented and ran
My first apartment
In Germany.
You see, by the age of 18
I’ve been to at least 17 countries
(Airports don’t count)
And moved 6 times.
You see, I’m from nowhere
Yet all the places I’ve been,
Cultures I’ve experienced,
And relationships I’ve built
Have made me into who I am today.
You see, I’m at peace, finally.
I’ve given up the baffling concept of
an earthly home
For the assurance of a Heavenly one
That awaits me.
But the thing is, you don’t see.

Your box is your worldview,
Your cultural understanding that comes
From the single perspective you were raised in.
I want to help you see,
Help you break through the confines
Of your box
But I know it takes time.
So for now I say only
“I live in Stuttgart, Germany.”
And at this moment
That is the truth.
adapted from the original by Breanna Thomas (the MK book)

[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 5 Stuck

It’s Day 5 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe to follow the journey!

I stepped from one foot to the other, hoping for some progress. 
The task was simple: just go to the shops in a South African township and get some veritable for your phone.

In Germany this is a matter of seconds. 
You stand in a proper line and wait your turn. 
The cashier emotionless takes your money and hands you the piece of paper. 
You’re done.

Well, in South Africa it’s different. 
You need to bring some time. 
There’s no line, rather a group of people in front of the counter. 
Whoever talks first gets served first. 
So I just talk my way to the front and state what I want. 
But it doesn’t work like this. 
You first have to survive the “interrogation”: How are you? How’s the family? How are your 25 chicken? Do you have a cow by now? And don’t you want to marry my son?
A lifestory and some 20 minutes later I successfully leave the store with credit and something to think about.

Whenever we travel and encounter other countries and people, we learn so much. 
We meet people with different skin colors and languages. 
We eat interesting food. 
We get a glimpse into completely different lifestyles. 

But most of all, we learn about ourselves and how much we are stuck in our own cultures and ideas of how life is supposed to work. 
And only if we are willing to let go of some of our customs in exchange for some new we’ll experience the full blessings of travel.

What were some of the hardest things you had to learn abroad and what did you find out about yourself?