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You Know You're A Missionary Kid (MK) When...

(Many of these observations apply to other expat kids as well!)

  1. You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?"
  2. You think that barrels make good end tables and night stands.
  3. 011 is a familiar area code.
  4. The vast majority of your clothes are hand-me-downs.
  5. People send you used tea bags in the mail.
  6. You speak two languages, but can't spell either.
  7. You flew before you could walk.
  8. The U.S. is a foreign country.
  9. You embarrass yourself by asking what swear words mean.
  10. You have a passport, but no driver's license.
  11. You watch National Geographic specials and recognize someone.
  12. You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
  13. You don't know how to play Pac-Man.
  14. You consider a city 500 miles away to be "very close."
  15. Your life story uses the phrase "Then we went to ..." five times.
  16. You prefer a Land Rover to a Lexus.
  17. You watch nature documentaries and think about how good that would be if the animals/insects on the screen were fried.
  18. You can cut grass with a machete, but can't start a lawnmower.
  19. You think in grams, meters and liters.
  20. You speak with authority on the quality of airline travel.
  21. You go to the U.S., and get sick from a mosquito bite.
  22. Your family sends you peanut butter and Kool-Aid for Christmas.
  23. You worry about fitting in, and wear a native wrap around the dorm.
  24. National Geographic makes you homesick.
  25. You have strong opinions about how to cook bugs.
  26. You read the international section before the comics.
  27. You live at school, work in the tropics, and go home for vacation.
  28. You don't know where home is.
  29. Strangers say they can remember you when you were "this tall."
  30. You grew up with a maid.
  31. You do your devotions in another language.
  32. You sort your friends by continent.
  33. You keep dreaming of a green Christmas.
  34. "Where are you from?" has more than one reasonable answer.
  35. The nationals say, "Oh, I knew an American once ..." and then ask if you know him or her.
  36. You aren't terribly surprised when you do.
  37. You are grateful for the speed and efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service.
  38. You realize that furlough is not a vacation.
  39. You'd rather never say hello than have to say good-bye.
  40. You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
  41. You've spoken in dozens of churches, but aren't a pastor.
  42. Furlough means that you are stuffed every night ... and have to eat it all to seem polite.
  43. You realize that in Australia, the last statement would be very rude.
  44. You commit verbal faux pas, as demonstrated in the previous statement.
  45. Your parents decline your cousin's offer to let them use his BMW, and shoehorn all six of you into an old VW Beetle instead.
  46. You stockpile mangoes.
  47. You know what real coffee tastes like.
  48. The majority of your friends never spoke English.
  49. Someone brings up the name of a team, and you get the sport wrong.
  50. You bundle up warmly, even in the middle of summer.
  51. You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
  52. You like everything from Reggae to Japanese Rap music.
  53. You know there is no such thing as an international language.
  54. You quote Reepicheep: Adventures are never fun while you're having them.
  55. Your second major is in a foreign language you already speak.
  56. You tell Americans that democracy isn't the only viable form of government.
  57. You realize it really is a small world, after all.
  58. You never take anything for granted.
  59. You feel a polka-dotted passport would be appropriate.
  60. You watch a movie set in a foreign country, and you know what the nationals are really saying into the camera.
  61. Rain on a tile patio -- or a corrugated metal roof -- is one of the most wonderful sounds in the world.
  62. You know how to pack.
  63. All preaching sounds better on hard, wooden benches.
  64. A musical instrument can be anything -- even bottle caps nailed to a board
  65. You can amuse yourself for hours with cardboard boxes.
  66. Fitting 15 or more people in a car seems normal to you.
  67. You refer to gravel roads as highways.
  68. You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.
  69. You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a transformer isn't always enough to make your appliances work.
  70. You fried a number of appliances during the learning process.
  71. You marry another MK.
  72. Your parents' siblings are strangers to you, but you have 50-60 Aunts and Uncles who are no blood relation to you at all.
  73. You maintain a mailing list of over 400 names and addresses, but have no one you feel comfortable spending Christmas with.
  74. You get upset when people don't finish their food, and feel worse when they scrape it into the trash.
  75. You don't think that two hours is a long sermon.
  76. There was never a special meal on Sunday, as it was your parent's busiest day. Monday was your Day of Rest.
  77. You don't do well in job interviews because you were taught to be modest.
  78. Your wardrobe can only handle two seasons: wet and dry.
  79. You think nothing of straddling white lines to pass between trucks or buses traveling side by side, because "There was plenty of room, officer. Honest! At least six inches clearance."
  80. Someone in your passport country has to explain to you that the double yellow line means *only* oncoming traffic can drive on that side of the road, even when there *isn't* any oncoming traffic ... and you don't understand why.
  81. The same individual also has to explain that red lights mean stop *all* the time, without exception, and you must stay stopped *until* they turn green, whether or not there is cross-traffic ... and you still don't understand why.
  82. Later the same day, the same poor friend has to go to great lengths to explain to you why you cannot just hand the policeman fifty cents and drive away when he stops you, and why you are now being driven downtown in the back of said officer's car over a mere fifty cents; at which point your passport country ceases to make any sense to you at all.
  83. When you can't get past "Oh, say can you see ..." in the national anthem, and you have to watch to see what hand to use.
  84. You think the Pledge of Allegiance might possible begin with "Four-score and seven years ago ..."
  85. You get confused because the dollar bills aren't color coded.
  86. Your high school memories include those days that school was canceled due to tear gas.
  87. You listen to the latest hit on the radio and think "I wonder how that would sound on a thumb piano or a sitar?"
  88. You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
  89. You go to the local Korean restaurant just to listen to the conversation.
  90. You go to Taco Bell and have to put five packets of hot sauce on your taco.
  91. You are accused by your friends of being a maniacal driver, and you're driving just like dad taught you to.
  92. You have a hard time living with a roommate who isn't a foreigner.
  93. You really do enjoy Oriental folk music.
  94. Your family talks about "Grandpa Al" and you never met him before he died.
  95. You marvel at the cleanliness of gas station bathrooms.
  96. You instinctively start ripping up the newspaper when you run out of toilet paper.
  97. Your study of minor keys in music theory makes you homesick.
  98. You think you hear your home country's language when you play a record backwards.
  99. You have a name in at least two different languages, and it's not the same one.
  100. You miss the sub-titles when you go to see the latest movie.
  101. You feel like you need to move after you've lived in the same place for a two months.
  102. You eat a lot of chicken, because it tastes so similar to the dog meat that you miss.
  103. You don't think that eating goldfish is an old fraternity prank.
  104. You know what the name of your subcompact car means.
  105. You know someone with the same name as your subcompact car.
  106. You determine your speed by the smaller orange numbers on the inside of your speedometer dial.
  107. You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that can support foreign alphabets.
  108. Riots make you homesick.
  109. You try to get onto a military base by showing your passport.
  110. You have seen both the north star and the southern cross, and you can navigate by either constellation.
  111. It scares you more to send your kids to public school than it would to send them on an unescorted plane trip.
  112. You think VISA is a document stamped in your passport, and not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
  113. You hear a song from the 50s and tell your friends you "Like that new song, who sings it?"
  114. All black people do not look remotely alike, nor do Hispanics or Asians ... but Europeans or North Americans are kind of hard to tell apart at first.
  115. Climates that get below about 72°F (20°C) are against your body's religion.
  116. The thought of encountering snakes, scorpions, wild animals, witch doctors or armed rebel insurgents on an afternoon walk evokes responses like, "Yes..." or "So ...?" whereas the idea of merely driving through, let alone living in, an American city terrifies you.
  117. Someone asks you where you most enjoy just hanging out and you immediately think of happy hours spent in international airports.
  118. In spite of your passport country's climate, your parents influence, and your or their religious scruples, you have an insurmountable aversion to clothing any more substantial than your average thong bikini bottom.
  119. The thing that made you feel most at home when you returned to your passport country was the "new", "modern", body piercing and tattooing fad.
  120. You go to a church you have never been in before and find your picture on their bulletin board.
  121. The best word you can find to describe the U.S. is "fake".
  122. When you find a gravel road you find some of your MK friends and go drive along it at night with the lights off and the windows down, reminiscing.
  123. The sole finally comes right off your favorite pair of shoes, so you go looking for the itinerant shoe repair man who will fix 'em better than new right there on the sidewalk while you wait.
  124. Your idea of "we deliver " is buying fresh mangoes, pineapple, bananas, passion fruit, guavas, and other fruits that have no name in English, all delivered to your door by the street vendor who comes by your house twice a day, knows exactly what kind of papaya you prefer, and who always saves one for you.
  125. You used to hate hand-me-down clothes but now a friend leaves an old shirt at your place that happens to fit, and you wear it often because it reminds you of your friend and your childhood.
  126. You actually look forward to the rare times the power goes off because it makes you feel nostalgic, *and* you might get a chance to see those stars that are still etched so vividly in your memory.
  127. You didn't get a license until you're 18th birthday, but you started driving the ancient family landrover when you were seven, looking out through the raiseable ventilation louvres under the windshield.
  128. For years, you thought those ventilation louvers were what air conditioning meant.
  129. You have this deep, sinking feeling that someone, somewhere has that fifth grade races-and-stringy-hair picture of you on their refrigerator.
  130. You look at the Rockies and think, "Nice hills."
  131. You automatically take off your shoes as soon as you get home.
  132. You visit an Ancient History museum and see a display of tools and household implements that you have used often and may even still own.
  133. Your dorm room/apartment/living room looks a little like a museum with all the "exotic" things you have around.
  134. You know hundreds of missionaries all over the world, but forget your pastor's name.
  135. You consider a three year old piece of clothing to be "practically new."
  136. You get nostalgic about sleeping every night in the summer under mosquito netting, after the bed has been dusted with DDT and the air sprayed with Flit, and little green spirally things are burning in every room in the house.
  137. You don't know whether to write the date as month/day/year, day/month/year, or some variation thereof.
  138. You play tricks with the International Date Line.
  139. You meet another MK, and discover that you share the same best friend.
  140. The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
  141. You still use those words, even if you know what they are in English.
  142. There are times when only your family knows what you're saying.
  143. You mess-up your idioms without even thinking about it.
  144. You embarrass yourself publicly by automatically picking up and using what turns out to be not-so-palatable expressions.
  145. You won't eat Uncle Ben's rice because it doesn't stick together.
  146. Your friends nervously remind you to drive on the right side of the road.
  147. You get mad at minorities complaining of discrimination when they have no clue as to what it's like to be a real minority.
  148. Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.
  149. You occasionally feel an urge to climb a volcano, but can't find one.
  150. You wake up one day and realize you're not a foreigner anymore.
  151. You wake up one day and realize you really still are a foreigner.

© Andy and Deborah