Why I Wrote a Children’s Book – Missionary Kid Stories

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

As a former Missionary Kid (MK), missions has played an important role in my life. I now live in the United States, and I want my kids to be exposed to missions, too. But this is hard to accomplish when you don’t live in another country.

I have implemented many of the things that I write about on this blog with my family, but I wanted something that would be very interesting for the kids and that would help me with other ideas of how to teach them.  Let me tell you about how Missionary Kid Stories came into existence.

My kids and I tend to read lots of books together, so I started looking for books about missions to read to the kids. I wanted one that had information on different countries and types of ministries, but from a kid’s perspective. In searching for a book like this for my children, I could not find one that talked about different ministry strategies from the missionary child’s point of view. The closest book that I found was: Around the World With Kate and Mack by Melissa Paredes (published by Wycliffe), which has a missionary child traveling around and focusing on different languages, cultures, and people groups. I also found several other books written for children about true missionaries from history, like Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor.

So, I set out to write a fun, educational, and informative way for children to learn two main things about missions. The result is Missionary Kid Stories . In it, kids learn:

  1. What life is like for different missionary kids in other countries (Mexico, Brazil, Zimbabwe, France, Indonesia, and the Philippines)
    • where they live
    • what languages they speak
    • where they go to school
    • their favorite foods
    • the weather
    • local arts and crafts
    • important landmarks or interesting topography
  2. Different types of ministries in which missionaries serve
    • printing Biblical literature
    • Bible translation
    • teaching in a seminary for local pastors
    • church planting
    • piloting planes to reach remote locations
    • teaching in an international school

Each chapter focuses on a different missionary kid, each in a different country, each with a different ministry focus. The characters are fictional (for security reasons in some countries), but are based, largely, on real missionary families serving around the world.

This book is intended to plant ideas into children’s minds that will hopefully grow into a desire to serve God in missions. I know that my kids have enjoyed reading this book (or having it read to them), and it has sparked many conversations about things they read about. I have been able to use this book to teach them about the countries included. For example, you can read about ideas to use when learning about Brazil here.

I the coming months, I plan to include more ideas for activities you can do with your children based on the book. I hope that families will use this to help broaden their children’s horizons. I also hope that it will be useful in homeschooling, Sunday Schools, and Vacation Bible Schools.  If you would like to purchase the paper or Ebook version of “Missionary Kid Stories”, click here!

If you have activity ideas that coordinate with the countries or ministries in the book, comment and share! I’d love to know!

Family Activity – Cooking with Kate and Mack

Want a fun idea for an activity to do with the family?  Check out these recipes from Wycliffe sent in by real missionary kids!  You can try to make them with your kids and try foods from all over the world!

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https://www.wycliffe.org/resources/kids/cook

Family Activity – Operation Christmas Child Boxes

One fun way to involve your children in thinking and giving globally is to pack an Operation Christmas Child box.   First, find a shoe box or plastic shoe container. Next, decide what age group and gender you would like to pack a box for. Then, buy things and fill the box. Donate 7 dollars to help with shipping the box to its destination. (If you do this online, your package will be tracked and you will get an email to let you know when and where your package was delivered.)

Why do this?

  • It is practical and hands-on – your kids can help buy things and pack things with you.
  • It can be budget friendly – you can choose to spend as much or as little as your budget allows.
    • One option is to take your kids shopping with you to the store. You can let them help choose items – they’ll have great fun putting things in the cart and helping.
    • Another option is to buy things throughout the year as you find them on sale. This is great for families on a budget. You can get fun stuffed animals and toys at after-Christmas sales and after Easter items go on clearance. Back-to-school shopping can help you find great deals on pens, pencils, erasers, and pencil sharpeners. Many times you can get these for 1 penny!

I am going to walk you through what we put in our boxes and how much we spent.

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Box 1:

  • Backpack – $2.00 at Walmart on clearance in October
  • Bunny – $0.50 on clearance after Easter
  • Pencil Sharpener – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Red and Black Pens – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Crayons – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Markers – $1.50 at Walgreens in August
  • Scissors – $0.75 at clearance sale at Walgreens in September
  • Balls – (we had a baggy of these at home, so they were not a recent purchase)
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste – Free (donated)
  • Socks- $0.50 I split a package between the boxes
  • Pencil – we had this at home
  • I threw in some Bandaids and hard Halloween candies at the last minute (not in the picture).
  • TOTAL $5.28 + $7.00 = $12.28

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Box 2:

  • Backpack – $2.00 at Walmart on clearance in October
  • Eeyore – $0.50 on clearance after Easter
  • Hot Wheels – $0.25 each at a garage sale in the summer (New in package!)
  • Pencil Sharpener – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Red and Black Pens – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Crayons – $0.01 at Office Max in August
  • Colored Pencils – $1.50 at Walgreens in August
  • Scissors – $0.75 at clearance sale at Walgreens in September
  • Balls – (we had a baggy of these at home, so they were not a recent purchase)
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste – Free (donated)
  • Socks- $0.50 I split a package between the boxes
  • Pencil – at home
  • I threw in some Bandaids and hard Halloween candies at the last minute (not in the picture).
  • TOTAL $5.78 + $7.00 Shipping = $12.75

Want some other ideas? Check out this post from MoneySavingMom.

What do you put in your Operation Christmas Child box?

How to Bless a Missionary – Send them Christmas Gifts (Week #8)

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Now is the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas presents for missionaries. I know it seems early, but it is not!  You might want to send a package or you might want to donate a special amount of money for them to use in buying Christmas things for their own family.

Sending a package to a missionary with Christmas presents in it is a great idea, but it requires a bit of forethought. Contact the missionary you would like to send something to and find out what they might need or like. Also, find out about how to send a package or what you may not be able to send. It may take weeks or months for them to receive it. For more information on sending a package to a missionary, read: how-to-bless-a-missionary-send-them-a-package-week-5/

Sending money as a Christmas gift is also a great idea. This may allow the missionary to buy Christmas presents for their family that they otherwise couldn’t afford. They might be able to purchase something they have been needing or wanting that wasn’t in the normal budget. Find out how to send them money – usually there is a way to make a payment online through their ministry website, but you may have to send in a check. (An added benefit for you – sending money is usually tax-deductible.)

To make an even bigger impact, join together with your Sunday School class, homeschool group, extended family or neighbors and participate together to give an even bigger gift. Your missionary may be able to purchase the washing machine, motorcycle, or car that they have been needing!

What have you sent to a missionary?

How to Bless a Missionary – Host Them in Your Home (Week #7)

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One way that we have chosen to bless missionaries is to host them in our home. This also has proven to have an added benefit – our kids see the missionaries and get to know them and their children, even if only for an evening. We have been able to host several missionaries for dinners and lunches in our home. This is a great way for a whole family to be involved, and it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money if your family happens to be on a tight budget.

So, how do you do this if you don’t know any missionaries or don’t know when they will be in town?

  • Contact your local pastor and find out what missionaries will be coming through your area. Have your church put you on a list to be contacted when missionaries will be coming.
  • Find out when a missionary that you have befriended might be coming through. We had started following the newsletters from, and had written several emails to, a family in Brazil. We soon found out that they would be coming to the US and we offered to feed them or have them stay with us if they were around our area. They ended up driving through for supper on their way to another destination. We might not have ever met them if we had not contacted them and invited them to come.

Growing up, my family benefited from staying with many different people. We had people in different states and cities that we got to know because we ate or stayed in their home. This was a big blessing to us because we did not have extra money to pay for frequent hotels during our travels. We had many people that hosted us for meals, but we also stayed overnight with many people while travelling. We stayed for several weeks one summer in the basement of a family that offered to let us use it. I also benefited from a family that let me stay with them for 2 weeks one summer until my parents came back to visit churches that summer.

Here are a few things to consider in order to be a GREAT HOST:

  • Make sure that you have a private area for the missionary and their children to sleep. You would think this would not need to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. Not everyone seems to know this. You don’t have to have a basement or private apartment…. a normal bedroom will do. It is just awkward if there is no way for them to close a door for privacy or if you expect their children to sleep with yours. Remember, they are strangers and may not feel comfortable with this.
  • Find out about allergies. Many people these days seem to have allergies to all sorts of different things. You’d hate to serve spaghetti and find out that they can’t have gluten, prepare food with nuts when they have a life-threatening allergy, or put them in the room the dog normally sleeps in if they are allergic to dogs!
  • Prepare your Wi-fi password. Most missionaries these days are very globally interconnected. They may not have a data plan or internet access, and they will likely be very grateful to be able to use your Wi-fi.
  • Prepare a gift bag. This can be anything your family would like and can afford. Maybe it’s a collection of travel-sized toiletries for them to use while in your home and take with them. Maybe it has travel activities and snacks for the kids. Maybe it has an item for a home (if they are on home assignment). Maybe you can afford to put some gift cards in. Use your imagination and get the kids involved!

Have you hosted a missionary? Share your ideas with us!

Find a Great Local Experience for Your Family

Have you heard of Compassion Experience?  I recently learned about this event that happens in cities all across the United States.  This is a great way to let your family see what it would be like to live as a child in another country.   It is free and open to all ages.  I plan to attend with my family, and I would love to know if you have been and what you thought about it?  Leave some comments!

Want to see where you might find a Compassion Experience near you?  Look here:  Compassion Experience

Why Do Missionaries Take Furloughs?

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Most missionaries take a “furlough” or “home assignment” from time to time. This refers to a period of time that they are back in their passport country (back “home”, as some say). The reasons for the time away from their ministry can be many. Some people have concerns and wonder, “Why does that missionary really need to come back to the United States so much?” or “Aren’t they wasting a lot of money going back and forth?”

Here are some of the reasons that a missionary might come back to their passport country:

  • Requirement by agency or mission – Most missions or mission agencies have a requirement or recommendation for their missionaries to return to their passport country and take a break from their current ministry from time to time. The amounts of time between these periods vary and the recommendations for activities during the time away are also different.
  • Rest time – Missionaries need rest! Living in a culture that is different from your own is stressful and exhausting…even if you love the country you are in and the people you work with. Just communicating in a different language can take a toll on a missionary’s health and relationships. Reconnecting with family that they have not seen for years is an important component of this for them and their children.
  • Visiting current supporters and churches – Missionaries need to visit the churches and people that support them. People expect updates about the ministry that they are praying for and contributing money to. Visiting people also makes the ministry more real to them and they will think of the missionary more often and remember to pray for them.
  • Raising support – Missionaries need to raise more support. This means that they need to ask more people and churches to send in money to support their ministry. People can contribute monthly, weekly, yearly, or once in a while. Any contributions help the missionary stay on the field. Many missionaries are under-supported and have to return to the US to raise funds.
  • Children’s needs – Some missionaries return for a home assignment due to a need of one or more of their children. This could be a child with special needs like deafness, autism, learning disabilities, etc. Many times it is hard to find specialized services in other countries. Maybe the parents are receiving training so that they can educate their special needs child once they return to their ministry. Missionaries may also return for a period of months to a year to help a child adjust to moving back to the United States for college or university. This period of transition is one of the most difficult for the missionary kid – moving to the US is not moving home, but to a foreign culture. Many MKs struggle to adjust and make poor choices during this time. Having parents near during this period may help ease the transition.
  • Caring for ailing parents – Many missionaries have ailing and elderly parents back “home” in their passport country. When parents struggle with cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, the missionary may need to return to care for them for a period of time.
  • Further training – Receiving training is an important aspect of most jobs, and missions is no different. Missionaries may need to do continuing medical education, maintain currency of their pilot’s license, receive computer training, learn new communication or evangelistic techniques, learn new teaching techniques or maintain a teaching license.

Now, I have to address the elephant in the room…. or in the back of people’s minds. Many people believe that missionaries are on vacation for the time they are in the United States, and some even think “Wow, I wish I could get a break from my job for that long!”. My family encountered several of these people over the years. As you can see from the above list, there are times of rest and recovery, but the majority of the time back “home” is spent working…just in a different capacity than when they are in their host country. Remember that when you see missionaries back in the United States. 😉

How to Bless a Missionary – Pray for them (Week #6)

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Although it may sound simple, one of the best ways to bless a missionary is to pray for them. There are many areas for which missionaries would appreciate prayer:

  • Effective Ministry – Obviously, every missionary would like for their ministry to be effective and reach many people. They feel called to serve and have a passion for people coming to know God on a personal level. If their ministry is effective, it makes it easier for them to persevere in the work God gave them. They need wisdom to know when to share about Jesus and with whom.
  • Safety – Missionaries serve in all different environments. Some live in relative safety, but others are constantly on the defensive, watching for threats. Some fear for their lives or their possessions, and others just worry about sickness and lack of medical care. Many times Americans are targets because they are perceived as rich, or just because they are Americans.
  • Strength/Stamina – Missionaries do hard, frustrating work. Daily activities are harder than in the U.S. Things like cooking, laundry, and housekeeping all take extra time and effort. Houses are not airtight, and bugs and dust are pervasive. People are spiritually blinded and may not be open to hearing about God. Pray for both physical and emotional strength.
  • Grow in Faith – Missionaries may not have opportunities to be spiritually fed. Many live in a desert-like spiritual environment where they serve as the only well with water for those around them. Pray they receive encouragement from God’s Word.
  • Personal Friendships – Missionary life can be lonely. Working with people of another culture is hard and they may not ever be able to establish close friendships, especially if there are no Christians in their area. Their friends back in their “home” country are moving on with life without them and their relationship will never be the same.
  • Kids – Most missionaries worry about their kids adjusting well. They want their kids to grow up healthy and emotionally well. The list of things to pray for the MKs is extensive and I will write another blog post in the coming weeks to give you more ideas.
  • Health – Medical care in other countries is always different than the United States. Many developing countries suffer from a lack of doctors and hospitals. There are also many snakes, bugs, and diseases that are new to the missionary family.
  • Host Country Government – Pray that the host country government would stay open to missionaries and the gospel. Pray that they make laws that facilitate people coming to know God in their country.

Want to be an even bigger blessing? Tell your missionary what you are praying for them. Write out a prayer that they can read to let them know your thoughts and prayers!

Use the Olympics to Get Your Kids Interested In Missions!

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Are you having trouble getting your kids to want to learn about other countries and people groups? Do you wish they would care about others and be more generous?

Here are some inexpensive ways that you can use the recent Summer Olympics in Brazil to spark their interest:

  • Color a map of Brazil together. Label Rio de Janeiro (where the Summer Olympics were in 2016).
  • Create or color a flag of Brazil.
  • Read a book about Brazil from your local library.
  • Read a book about missionaries. Find one that includes people who have gone to Brazil, and talk about what kinds of jobs they have done. Missionary Kid Stories
  • Play soccer as a family. Look up the rules if you need to.
  • Make homemade lemonade/limeade from fresh squeezed lemons/limes.
  • Make a Brazilian dinner (include rice and beans) by looking up recipes online. You can use the recipe from MoneySavingMom Crockpot Beans for how to make crock pot beans (so simple)!
  • Put together a puzzle of the world. Find Brazil.
  • Learn some Portuguese phrases together. Bom dia!
  • Look up missions websites like JAARS http://www.jaars.org or Wycliffe (www.wycliffe.org) and search for articles about missionaries and mission work in Brazil. Pick some to read as a family. Sign up for updates from a missionary if you find one you are really interested in!

You won’t have to do all of these things to get your kids interested…just pick the ones that will work for your family! Your kids will already be excited about the Olympics, and you’ll be surprised how easy it will be to help the excitement carry over to learning about a new country and the mission work people are doing there!

 

How to Bless a Missionary – Send Them A Package (Week #5)

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One of the most old-fashioned ways to bless a missionary is to send them a package. In order to do this well, it is probably best to first ask the missionary if it is ok for them to receive packages. They will be able to tell you any information that you might need to send the package in the best way possible. You will need to know:

  • What can or cannot be sent to them
  • How best to send it (Fed Ex, UPS, USPS, etc.)
  • Any fees they may have to pay to get the package out of customs
  • If it can contain anything regarding God, Jesus or Christianity
  • What they may need or want.

There are a few things that are NOT good things to send. Do NOT send:

  • Used clothing in outdated or poor condition. If you wouldn’t wear it, don’t send it.
  • Baked goods (unless specifically requested). You do not know how long the package will be in transit, and the food may be stale or in crumbs by the time the missionary gets it.
  • Old and outdated books and commentaries (unless the missionary knows about them and wants them). These are heavy and hard to ship. If the missionary has to pay to get things out of customs, they may have to pay more than they are worth.
  • Outdated media. Those old VHS tapes and musical tapes that you don’t want…they don’t want them either.  (And they may not have a way to even play them!)

The moral of the story is this: you can bless a missionary with a package, but check with them first!