Friday, February 24, 2012

Thoughts From The Journey For The Journey

Cylinda Nickel

I must remember to share the following with my girls….
Steve Shirley & Cylinda Shirley Nickel

When I was six we lived in a guest house in Nevis – where I got spanked for throwing ginups (fruit) seeds on people’s
heads off the second floor balcony onto the parade below.

What if I forget to tell my kids about when my friends and I were content to spend the afternoon cleaning up cow patties
in the church yard to get ready for the IYC trip when I was seven. How my favorite place to play in St. Martin was an old
broken down VW Bug that I would sit in and play for hours.

How I got in trouble from my parents for running in and reading the test that my Mom had just written for the Bible School
students- after they bribed me with sweets- if I would “help” them out.

How my friends and I that summer also thought we would help by passing out tracts (again I was seven). My friend said
Troy, Steve, Tiny (the dog) and Cylinda
that he would tell my parents (working on the church building) and he did not. So it was dark—my parents could not find
me and I was miles down the countryside—the only white girl giving out tracts inviting people to church.

How my job was to sit on the side of the rode and wait for the ice man to drive up in his cart to buy ice for the day for 2 EC dollars and he would chip off a tiny piece for me personally—that I relished all the way back to the guest house.

How we lived in a one room guest house in St. Martin and all four of us fit onto one motorcycle.

How I would be at church Sunday AM/PM - Mon/Tues/Wed/Thur. and never thought anything of it.

How I would love the one day a week we were allowed to go out to eat.

How I remember when McDonalds first came to our island; how Ronald McDonald was mobbed by the kids and they had
to put him on the roof.

Waiting in line to get baptized!
How those first hamburgers tasted like heaven and they were served in brown papers bags.

How we would not leave service until 1:00 to 1:30 in the afternoon; after several would receive the Holy Ghost.

How during the middle of my Dad’s preaching a Rasta came in and grabbed my dad up (he is 5’7”) by the neck tie and
threatened his life and the ushers (one a former bar bouncer) threw him out literally.

How my list of toys for one summer in St. Kitts was a white VW match box car. My brother had a blue convertible. That
and dirt kept us entertained all summer.

And the list goes on and on and on. I don’t want to forget these things. I want my children to be raised in the simple
knowledge that God, your faith, family, and church are enough. That living your life fully for Him is what it is about. I am
afraid that somehow after these years the fresh vivid memories of so much of my life will fade. 

I want my girls to do more for Him that I ever thought of.
To reach more of their world than I could ever of mine.
To teach more people than I could have in one setting.
To be sensitive to His presence.
To reach out.
To love.
To really care.
To be more than girls--to be ministers of light.
And you know what?
They will!

Cylinda serves as the Office Manager for MK Ministries. She is a MK and a former AIMer to several locations.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Might Be An MK If. . .

I thought we could take a little time and share some funny perspectives of missionary kids by starting our own, "You Might Be An MK If. . ."!  From one MK to another, I know you will enjoy these!  These first few were submitted by Paula Dennis Townsley, former MK to Japan!  Of course, I know there will be many more added - so I look forward to many more posts just like this one!!  Enjoy. . .

You Might Be An MK If. . .

. . .eating spaghetti with chopsticks is easier than using a fork and spoon.

. . .you won't eat Uncle Ben's rice, because it doesn't stick together.

. . .you have to explain the difference between, "The cow is ON the field" versus "The cow is IN the field".

. . .you take a shower before taking a bath

. . .you call senior missionaries grandma and grandpa.

. . .the message on your answering machine is in two languages.

. . .you move into a new neighborhood and you take a gift to all your neighbors houses.

. . .earthquakes seem normal.

. . .your Mom sends you out to sweep the street in front of your house.

. . .you pull into a gas station and expect people to run out screaming, "Welcome"!

. . .you consider parasites, dysentery and tropical diseases to be appropriate dinner conversation.

. . .you tell people what certain gestures mean in different parts of the world. 

. . .you have to stop in the middle of an argument to find the translation of the word you just used.

. . .you calculate exchange rates by the price of Coke.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

MKs - Life is Always An Adventure!

Camilla Blake, MK to Africa
If you are an MK then you totally get the title of this blog.  As an MK, you never know where you will be, what you will see or the life experiences you will get to have.  So we live our lives always on an adventure!  I would love to be able to share some of your photos and adventures with others!  Send them in so we can share with our MK world!

Love this one - Camilla Blake, MK to Africa, holding a monkey!!  Who else but an MK would have the chance to do that??!!  Awesome!

Amber Sullivan Todd, MK to the Philippines
How about this one of Amber Sullivan Todd, MK to the Philippines.  We are not going to ask what the monkey was looking for!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Understanding Love

Okay, I know it's cliche, but let's talk love on this Valentine's Day! I think love is one of the most misunderstood concepts, especially in the society that we live in!  Love defined can range from affection for someone to deep, all-consuming feelings and emotions.  The truth is that love defined is summed up in one word - GOD.  God IS love!  He is the noun love in all sentences that you can compose.  He is the verb love in every action He every performed.  And He is the adjective love in every descriptive word that is used.  This is very hard for us to understand because we think of love in terms of either an action or a feeling.  But in God's world - it is His very being and essence. 

God understood that we would have a hard time comprehending love and so He worked to bring it down to our level by describing love in actions. In I Corinthians 13, the love chapter, you can see God trying so hard to help us understood what love really is.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  As you can see God is trying to help us understand the concept of love by describing all that it is and is not. 

As someone who comes from a home environment of unconditional and supportive love, I have a great concept of love.  Therefore, when I think of God and how much He loves me, I have no problem translating that into our relationship.  However, you have to think about those people that visit our churches and the only way they have ever felt love is through a harsh word, or a physically abusive touch.  Then they come and sit on our pews and we say to them, "God loves you."  It does not translate to them.  In fact, all of the sudden their concept of God is someone who is judging, harsh, no affectionate, having no patience with their issues and no positive physical reinforcement.  For those of us raised differently, we have a hard time understanding why they don't believe or act like they believe that God truly loves them.  Perhaps, we should change the way we pray for others around us regarding love.  Instead of praying that they feel the love of God, let's pray that they would come to UNDERSTAND the concept of love so they could then receive the action of love. 

So I challenge you today to be thankful, grateful and appreciative if you were raised in a home that created a positive perspective of love in your life.  But if you were not, then perhaps you need to pray that God will help you understand His Character of Love so that you can receive it the way He is giving it to you!  And as we receive His love then in turn let us show His love!

Monday, February 13, 2012


MK Ministries works hard each year to promote our ministry and get the message out about the importance and need for this ministry.  Many of you can remember a time when we didn't have a ministry exclusively for MKs!  Looking back into my generation, I can see that there was such a need for this ministry.  Then to see the progress that we have made for this new generation - IT IS SIMPLY AWESOME!  However, the biggest obstacle is getting the news of this great ministry out to others for their support and connection.  To that end, we write articles and submit blurbs about our ministry to many of the UPCI magazines and any other opportunities that we have.  This was an article written by me last year and used in promotion of MKM.  I trust you will enjoy it but more importantly SHARE IT!!  Let's get word out about MK Ministries.

Carla Burton

            Arithmetic was never my greatest subject in school, but, yes, even I know that in the “math” world the title of this article is not true.  But in the world of missionary kids there is no truer statement.  This equation reflects the concept of Third Culture Kids. 
            Missionary kids are considered third culture kids!  This simply means that they come from one (1) culture, they add to that one (1) other different culture then they merge these into a third (3) culture.  Most missionary kids are just like any other kids in the fact that they are born into a western culture.  Most of our missionaries come from America and Canada and even if they are born while their parents are on the field, they still grow up with a western culture perspective.  But you also have to understand that MKs (missionary kids) absorb much of the environment of the countries where their parents are missionaries.  Both of these cultures will influence their thinking, speech, compassion and perspective about life, creating this third culture.  So in our world – 1+1=3 – is really the truest statement reflecting our perspective of life. 
Cylinda Nickel & Carla Burton
            Let me share some Third Culture Kid perspective.  Many of us are bilingual.  There are MKs that actually think and process in another language and then translate it back into English.  Many of our MKs that were raised in Spanish speaking countries have adapted so to the language that they consider it their first language.  Because of this, Third Culture MKs have a hard time understanding western concepts, idioms and slang when they return to their first culture.  I remember growing up in the Philippines, southern colloquialisms just didn’t translate.  We had an American preacher speaking and he used the phrase, “. .that is just a bunch of HOGWASH!”  The translator didn’t understand this but translated it as , “it is MUCH CLEAN PIG!”  The faces of the Filipinos were quite humorous because they didn’t clean their pigs – they raised them to eat.  It just didn’t translate.  For many missionary kids returning back to America or Canada this is often how they feel in conversations while trying to adapt.  But the beauty of MKs is that in many of our churches throughout America they are putting their Third Culture language abilities to work by becoming a part of ethnic outreaches and ministries. 
            Most Third Culture kids don’t think like their western culture.  They share a “world perspective” realizing that the world is made up of more than just the west.  Many Americans don’t really have an idea about the world and what is happening.  They don’t understand things like civil wars, daily military violence, lack of financial resources, or the hardship of providing for basic necessities such as shelter, food and water.  Third Culture kids have an understanding of living life this way.  One of the hardest transitions for me with my Third Culture perspective was the contrast financially in America.  I had come from a culture (the Philippines) where most people earned $5.00 per day.  They lived in homes constructed from bamboo, sheet metal and scraps of plastic rolled over the roof.  Most of them didn’t have running water or electricity.  They worked hard each day to earn enough to stop by the market and buy the food they needed to feed the many people living in the hut.  So when I returned here and saw people shopping and buying $100.00 dresses just to have something new to wear to church that weekend, or throwing away plates of food, or not being willing to share with others – it caused a lot of transitional issues that I had to learn to deal with.  Third Culture kids bring a perspective to the table that is good for western cultures to receive and learn from.
Carla Burton & Mark Hattabaugh
            Third Culture kids have compassion.  After seeing the conditions that much of the rest of the world lives in, after watching their second culture people and falling in love with them, they bring big hearts back with them to America and Canada. MKs will be some of the most compassionate, loving, helpful and able workers in your church.  They want to reach out to others and they want to see people helped.  Take advantage of the compassion developed by the merging of these two cultures. 
            But along with all the advantages that Third Culture (MK) kids develop, they also have some difficulties transitioning either from their first culture to their second or back from their second to their first culture.  Through the years, we have seen many missionary kids lost in this void of transition due to the fact that they had no ministry that understood and would watch over them.  But with the development of MK Ministries through the Foreign Missions Division of the United Pentecostal Church, we have seen a change in the tide of this transition. 
Our goal in MK Ministries is to be the bridge between these cultures.  Our heartbeat is to see them walk confidently and successfully from one culture to another and back again.  Our ministry bridges this gap with many tools.  Our website ( is a great tool because it provides access to MKs ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD – both in their first and second cultures.  Our latest project being completed at the time of this publication is our MKM Re-Entry DVDs.  These are a series of 9 lessons covering emotional, physical and spiritual issues faced by missionary kids upon returning to their first culture.  We talk about dealing with loneliness and transitional perspectives.  We teach lessons about how to handle your finances and deal with day-to-day living issues.  We encourage them spiritually to connect to a local church, youth group and Pastor.  They watch the DVD along with student handouts and these are available to all our MKs returning to their first culture! 
MK Ministries also bridges the gap for these kids through fellowship events such as our pizza bash at General Conference, our MK Retreat (hosted every other year) which provides them an opportunity to physically come together and share.  We also minister through e-publications such as devotionals and our latest endeavor – MK Blogs – info on all these can be found at our website.  But our greatest tool is our membership of MKs.  By connecting MKs to MKs and creating relationships, we are developing a safety net for our Third Culture kids.  They minister to one another through Facebook, email, phone calls and mentorship.  Since the inception of MK ministries we have seen a decline in MKs being lost to the void of transition and we have seen many older MKs who were lost returning and connecting back to God, local churches and other MKs.  This is the power of a designated missionary kid ministry. 
            So even though 1+1 doesn’t really equal 3 in the math world, in the Third Culture Kid world it is perfect math!  Speaking of math, MK Ministries is a ministry that is fully funded through your PIMS, so if you want to do some math that will really make sense (or I should say cents), join us.  You can do this through our website –  And remember that in our world 1+1 really does equal 3! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

"You Are For Me"

Remember the purpose of this blog is not to just represent my thoughts but I want to showcase our missionary kids around the world.  Who could understand more or touch more lives than MKs helping other MKs? 

Hannah Bethany Benson
With that in mind, I just had to share the writing of Hannah Bethany Benson, MK to Togo/Benin.  She has a great attitude and concept to share about "Transitions"!  Transitions are something that every MK goes through, either when leaving their home country to go overseas for the first time, or leaving the country of their calling to return home for college.  MKs deal with culture shock on every side and transition can be a time of growth or a time of destruction.  Hannah has just gone through a great transition by leaving her family in their country of their calling and coming home to attend college.  Listen to the fantastic way that she has dealt with this in her own words:

“You Are For Me”
Hannah Bethany Benson

Bio – Moving to IBC this fall. 

Transition. It's a scary place. You aren't where you are going, but neither are you where you were.

These words sum up my life for the next few months. Transition. Change. Becoming. Growing. Learning. Trusting. Stretching.

This isn't the first transition I've lived through, but this seems like the scariest transition I will ever live through (at this point)! Some mornings I wake up wanting to cry, laugh, sing, and scream all at the same moment. If I look into the future too far, I start getting very overwhelmed. When I start feel like the world is going to crash on top of me, this is the song that I sing:

 "So faithful, so constant,
So loving and so true,
So powerful in all you do,
You fill me, you see me,
You know my every move.
You love for me to sing to you,

I know that you are for me,

I know that you are for me,
I know that you will never forsake me in my weaknesses,
I know that you have come now even if to write upon my heart,
To remind me of who you are

So patient, so gracious,

So merciful and true,
So wonderful in all you do,
You fill me, you see me,
You know my every move.
You love for me to sing to you" ~Kari Jobe

You see, it doesn’t matter where I am. It doesn't matter how much my life is changing. It doesn't matter how scared I might be, how worried, or how much the stretching hurts. HE never changes. HE is always constant. HE holds my world in HIS hands. AND…He is for ME. HE loves me. HE's not going to leave me alone in this time. HE's going to be with me every step of the way!

So yes, the fact that I am getting ready to move out of my parents’ house, halfway across the world, unnerves me a little bit. (They live in Togo, West Africa; I will be living in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.) No, not every detail is perfectly outlined for me. (This is hard because I like plans, and perfectly outlined details.) But, it's okay. I trust. I hold onto the Master's hand. I bring each day to HIM. When I start to feel like I am going to go insane, I cry out to HIM. HE leads, guides, and directs my path. That gives me peace!

Whoever you are, wherever you are reading this, trust that HE also holds YOUR world in His hands! He knows just where you are at, and He knows where you are going. He more than likely won't tell you every detail of the way, but He'll guide you. Let peace soak into your heart. Trust. Lean. Learn. "HE is for YOU!"

"I know that you are for me,

I know that you are for me,
I know that you will never forsake me in my weaknesses,
I know that you have come now even if to write upon my heart,
To remind me of who you are." 

Hannah with Hannah Grace, her namesake from Togo!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

DCD Conference in Singapore

Our MK Group!
This past December, I had the privilege of attending the "Deep Calleth Deep" conference in Singapore.  I will tell you that I haven't been on a long, overseas flight like that in a long time.  So it was like jumping into a pool of freezing cold water - I'm sure all you MKs understand what I am saying!  I left cold Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday and flew to Chicago.  Barely, making my connection, I was greeted by a PLANE FULL!!  I was jammed into the window seat and for the next 15 hours sat there trying to sleep, read and eat off my knees!  Arriving in Hong Kong, I went through all the twists and turns required when you are making a connection to another country.  A little while later, I left for Singapore - another four hour flight.  I landed in Singapore in the evening and took a taxi to my hotel!  Needless to say I was tired and glad to have arrived. 

I was greeted the next day by my awesome MKs - John, Matt & Katie Miller as well as Rachel & Rebecca Pounder!  We then had a great day of sightseeing with our Tabernacle of Joy friends and of course Mikayla Willoughby!  Now all my wonderful, amazing and awesome MKs were together.  We enjoyed a day like no other - even taking into account my jetlag!!  When I returned to the hotel to nap while they continued their sightseeing journey, I was greeted by my new roomie for the week and a new friend - Bridget Coleman

We were able to enjoy the amazing Tabernacle of Joy services on Sunday and the preaching of the Wright Brothers (not the ones that flew the plane but the sons of Bro. Chester Wright)!  Amazing fellowship, food and fun followed and grocery shopping for our trip to the conference.

On Monday, after checking out of the hotel, we drove 6 hours by bus into the country of Malaysia and to the city of Kuala Lumpar to begin our extended stay at a beautiful hotel and to enjoy of the most amazing services I have been in!  I wish I could describe the worship of the Tabernacle of Joy members, but all I can say is America we could learn something about wholehearted worship!  The speaking and the overall message of the Conference was fantastic.  But the greatest for me was to see my MKs in the middle of it all - worshipping, praising and letting God move in their lives!  They danced with everyone, prayed until there was no more strength left in them and created memories and relationships that will last forever!

On Thursday & Friday of the conference we were able to have MK classes and talk about topics and subjects that ministered directly to them.  What an awesome time of sharing and learning together.  We also enjoyed a fun outing - to the KL Aquarium - and our first Starbucks (YUMMY!) 

Leaving our new friends and especially my MKs was very hard, but I was so glad to know that we were able to enjoy such a fulfilling time together.  Flying another 20 hours or so, I arrived to the beautiful face of my husband and my bed! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Life Well Lived - Chase Evan Marshall

Chase Evan Marshall
Recently, the MK community was touched by a great tragedy.  Chase Marshall, the grandson of missionaries and the son of a missionary kid, was killed in a car accident.  Chase was only 18-years-old, but already had a testimony of a life well lived.  I had the privilege of attending Chase' funeral services.  It was awesome to see how amazing this young man's life was lived.  In each picture, his face was wreathed with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.  The testimony of friends and family was how caring, loving, and full of life he was.  His love for family, God and others was truly represented in his life.  We mourn with our fellow MKs during this time of loss, but more importantly we celebrate the life of Chase Marshall.  If you would like to let their family know you are thinking and praying for them contact them - Chase Marshall Family. Please take a moment and read the article written by Chase' aunt, Stephanie Gallion, regarding his amazing life.   

Chase Evan Marshall entered this world in San Diego, CA on November 25, 1992. From that day on he became a constant source of joy for his family, filling their  lives with laughter and silliness. Always in the shadow of his older brother and sister, he quickly learned that with his sparkling eyes and a goofy grin he could get a smile out of anyone. In typical baby of the family form, he turned that gift into endless family entertainment.

Chase, Chad, Terry, Terri & Charity Marshall
     At age 7, Chase begin to Bible quiz, receiving numerous Quizzer of the Year awards in the state of Indiana. In 2006, he and his sister Charity, took 4th in the nation and at Nationals that same year, he was 5th runner up Quizzer of the Year. In December of 2010, he was inducted into the Indiana Quizzing Hall of Fame.

     At 8 years of age, Chase received the Holy Ghost and purposed in his heart to pursue the call of God on his life. He would talk about wanting to be a preacher and go to Bible school when he grew up. He carried musical CDs around and would dream of the day he was old enough to go off to Bible College.

     By the time he was 12, Chase had already showed how exceptionally talented he was, both vocally and instrumentally. Singing and playing the piano in youth services, participating in his local worship team and devoting every free moment to his music.  Chase proved himself as a gifted musician, playing various instruments and could be found downloading ITunes, working on drum loops, learning how to transcribe music, or simply sitting at a piano playing his newest favorite song.

      In the summer of 2010, at 17, he spent three months interning in the state of Alaska. A hard worker by nature, Chase jumped in wholeheartedly and carried out every task that was asked of him. With competency and without complaint. No job was too big or too small, no task was too difficult. If he wasn't sure how to accomplish his assignment he would work till he figured it out. Traveling with the Alaska All State Youth Chorale, he invested of himself, showing young musicians a new chord to play or a new song to sing. He passed out tracks, prayed with people in the altar and even organized and lead the music for a missions trip into the village of Bethel.
        However, the greatest impact Chase left on the lives of those who knew him was his love for people. With his easy smile and infectious laugh, Chase opened himself to everyone he met. Always loyal, ever willing to forgive, hesitant to be critical of those close to him, he held friendships dear and everyone who knew him felt like they were his best friend. Chase's magnetic personality drew people to him but his gentle nature caused people to love him.  

        On May 11, 2011,  at 18 years of age, the Lord called Chase home. While we grieve for the loss of one so young and gifted, his life and legacy has touched countless of lives even in death  and already there are testimony of dozens of young people who have turned their lives around.  This is the fulfillment of Chase's greatest desire, to impact his generation.

Culture Shock Blog

Welcome to my world!  In my life, I have many labels - mother, pastor's wife, former MK, secretary of MK Ministries, music director, writer, speaker, singer - but obviously I didn't feel that I had enough to do and would add one more to my list - BLOGGER!  Actually, MK Ministries is working to best reach our MKs around the world and from your input you said a blog is the best way!  I am excited to be able to do this new endeavor, so you bear with me while I learn this process!

In the past we have always published an e-magazine online at our MK Website called Culture Shock.  This magazine was intended to reach 18 and older MKs around the world by allowing them to write articles and thoughts and share with one another.  We have worked hard on this endeavor and published some great magazines, but trying to reach around the world is hard with spotty internet download speeds and other tech issues.  So we have decided instead of publishing an e-magazine, we would take that information and create a blog.  This way you can log on and not have to download to be able to read shared information from others just like you.

With that said, welcome to "Culture Shock" blog for missionary kids 18 years and older.  I encourage you to send me - Carla Burton - your thoughts, articles and other information you would like to share.  I look forward to publishing my own thoughts but yours as well for other MKs around the world to read and enjoy!

So are you ready to take this journey with me??!!  I am excited to start spending time together and I look forward to hanging with you guys through this blog!