Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [July 2013]

The Tate Family has served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is indigenous church planting.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Usually in my newsletters I speak mostly of the progress or needs of the ministry, or I speak to matters of the culture, or I give you general updates on how I think things are going. This month I feel compelled to take a slightly different turn and speak of things that touch me much more personally, both as a missionary and as a father. What has spawned this thinking and caused me to write as I am this month is that my oldest child, Emily, will graduate from high school in 10 days. It would be extremely difficult to explain the mixture of joy and sadness I feel just thinking about that fact. Joy, because of the great accomplishment she has achieved by graduating from a boarding school in Kenya. Sadness, because after I take her back to the States, in a couple of months I know I will leave her there, 8000 miles away, and return to Africa without the knowledge of when I will see her again. But this letter is not about me, it’s about her.

Emily is a very strong person. She draws strength from deep reserves that I cannot see. I am enormously proud of her. I believe that when I leave her in the States, her heart is prepared to fly straight and strong. But I want you to explore with me the tremendous amount of change this young lady will be going through over the next few months. 1. In 10 days she will graduate from Rift Valley Academy. She will leave all her friends as they scatter around the world, and it is likely she will never see any of them ever again. She will leave the campus where she has lived for most of the last four years and most likely never see it again. 2. In August she will leave the continent of Africa. She will leave her home, pets, and things behind with no knowledge of whether she will see these things again. She will leave the country and culture that has become familiar to her over the past 5 years. 3. She will enter into a culture which has become foreign to her, one in which she has not spent many of her formative years – Namely, the American culture. She is what is called a Third-Culture Kid. A Third Culture Kid is a child who was taken from their original culture (the American culture, to which they no longer relate) and moved to a new culture (the Kenyan culture, to which they never have related). Thus, because they no longer fit in to either culture, the original one or the new one, they form their own culture, a third one, which is different from all others. Third Culture Kids can find it very difficult to assimilate into either their original or host countries’ cultures, and they often find it difficult to adjust and get close to others. They can often seem emotionally aloof, though they don’t mean to. 4. She will probably have to find a job to help pay for college without any knowledge of American work culture. 5. She will have to learn to drive again (she obtained her driving license just a few days before we left to return to Kenya). 6. In January she will begin college in the States, breaking into that new university culture half way into the college year. Most of the incoming freshman will have already acclimated and formed new friendships by then. 7. A couple of months after starting college, her parents and siblings will leave her by herself and return to ministry in Africa, 8000 miles away (she may be looking forward to this but it will rip my own heart out).

I am writing this to help you contemplate the tremendous amount of change and challenges that a missionary kid, and in this case, my kid, Emily, faces. I’m not saying she feels this way, but I would be scared out of my skin to be facing these same challenges. I implore you, enter into prayer with me for Emily as she commences upon these new challenges and opportunities. Pray that God would shower her with His grace, that He would be with her every step of the way, that He would strengthen her with His love and faithfulness, and that she would thrive as she looks to Him in all things. And while you are praying for her, remember the other missionary kids that you know. I have two others (Amy and Josiah) and you probably know other MK’s as well. I can tell you from experience that the issue of their children is probably what worries missionaries on the field more than anything else in their lives. Pray with us, won’t you?

Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.

For the glory of God in East Africa,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Emily, Amy, & Josiah)
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
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