Is It Worth Raising My Kids in Another Culture?


Krista Horn, Missionary, Kenya
The Call, January-March 2017

Toy TruckWe’d been in Kenya less than two months when I uttered the words, “I want to go home.” They were spoken not with a murmur or sigh, but with an emphatic sob. After more than a decade of preparing for the mission field, it was jarring to feel such negative emotions after finally getting here. But the transition to living overseas was harder than we’d expected. The daily grind of learning the culture, adjusting to ministry, and helping our three young boys adapt had taken its toll.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was a missing dump truckā€”a missing toy dump truck! Our son’s cherished toy was a small and seemingly insignificant thing, yet its disappearance tipped the scales and I found myself sobbing for the comfort of home. The toy had somehow “walked off” with another kid. Kai asked where his dump truck was, and when a thorough search produced no results, reality hit that I couldn’t just run to Target and replace it. I broke down; it was simply too much to handle. Processing the value of material things, plus wrestling with the socially acceptable activity of walking off with someone else’s stuff, plus helping a 2-year-old cope with the loss of a beloved toy, plus weighing the merits of justice vs. honor/shame when face-to-face with the culprit…it was all too much to handle that day and I just wanted to go home.

Instead, we are allowing God to use this time of transition and stress to refine us and strengthen us for the years ahead. When my husband, Eli, struggles with the death of yet another patient, God reminds him that He is faithful even in the midst of death. When I realize I’ve made yet another cultural mistake, God reminds me that He is sovereign and can do His work despite my faux pas. When our kids cling to timidity in this new culture, God reminds us that He is wise and has brought them here to grow in confidence.

Living and ministering overseas is not easy, and it’s clearly not the easiest way to raise our children either. But it’s the best thing we could be doing because it is God’s will for us. Being in the center of God’s will is worth every stress, every lost dump truck, and every desire to go home. He is worth it all, now and forever.