U nit e d S tat e s Erica, second from left, with volunteer missionary friends at Helderberg College.
Where Are You
his question has troubled me for years, and I suspect it’s troubled other children of missionaries who were raised overseas. Frequently referred to as third-culture kids, we don’t share the culture of the place we were born nor that of the place our parents left behind. We create our own culture. And we feel the greatest camaraderie when we’re together because of what we do share—a strong sense of not belonging. When I entered college, the dreaded question of where I was from came more frequently. For years, I had faced it with uncertainty. My most common answer through high school started with, “Uh,” accompanied by a startled, deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. But in the past year or two, I’ve gotten creative. I’ve started replying, “Everywhere,” or “Nowhere,” or even,
Erica and Lyndon on vacation in the Congo.
Erica and Lyndon with their dad in the Congo.
“That depends. What part of my life would you like to know about?” Eventually, after some urging, I’ll explain, “Well, I was born in South Africa, but I grew up in Zaire, which became The Democratic Republic of
Congo while I was there, but my permanent address is in the United States, so take your pick!” As a student in the United States, I got used to my classmates saying “Erica, say that thing that you say funny.” For the most part, I had learned to laugh off my differences. Yet, there were moments when I became