Transitioning is Hard

I’m a missionary kid (MK) from Guatemala, Central America. I grew up there and didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the United States before moving to John Brown University. I was so excited, but also terrified.

I wasn’t just moving out of my parents’ home, but also changing countries and cultures—all with no family or connections within a ten-hour drive.

I flew up from Guatemala alone. Walking away from my parents before entering security was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I knew my life was changing forever but wasn’t entirely sure what future I was walking into.

My independence really hit me my first full week of school. I rode my bike for the first time since arriving on campus and was maybe five minutes away from campus when I saw that I’d punctured my tube on glass shards. My tire was completely flat.

I was going to have to walk my bike all the way back to my dorm, figure out how to get a patch kit, learn how to use it and fix the bike all by myself. I had no prior experience with bike repair and no way to get to Walmart to buy a patch kit. My parent’s couldn’t handle the situation. I was an adult now, I had to do it myself.

The total ridiculousness of the situation overwhelmed me and I just sat down and cried before making my slow, shameful way back to Mayfield. It took three weeks for that tire to be fixed.

The best thing that John Brown University ever did to help me adjust to the United States was establish the Missionaries in Residence program. Each year, a different missionary couple lives on campus and has us MKs over for dinner or dessert throughout the semester.

These men and women have been such a support for me. ​If patching a bike tire was that traumatic, imagine getting an American driver’s license! Time and time again, the Missionaries in Residence (MIRS) helped me accomplish the things I needed—driving me to Gentry twice for driving tests, taking me to the Tulsa airport in the middle of the night, providing references for jobs and helping me with class projects.

More than the physical help, the MIRS are godly men and women who have been friends and mentors, Aunts and Uncles. They’ve taught not only how to survive, but how to transition well.

About the author

Valerie McArthur

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