Keeping Up With the Joneses
Between Worlds in 2021
One of the greatest parts of living between worlds as a missionary family is all the amazing people that we interact with all around the world. This summer, we’ve travelled up and down the East coast spending time with great friends and family all the way from New Hampshire down to the Florida Keys. We’ve reestablished and strengthened friendships over rounds of disc golf, catching fish, and eating crazy good food. God has ministered so much grace and encouragement to our family this summer and as we finish this “family furlough,” we’re turning our attention back toward our friends and church family 10,000 miles away in Thailand.
You might be asking yourself, “Is it hard to live between worlds?” What does that even phrase even mean? Let me illustrate. Living between worlds means that ever since our family decided to go to the mission field in 2005, we’ve been living a life of high mobility, and we don’t really have a place we call “home.” During the past 16 years, we’ve rented houses in Kansas, Tennessee, and South Carolina. We’ve borrowed bedrooms in family basements, lived in our SUVs, and overrun our in-law’s house with countless suitcases up and down their hallway. In Thailand, we’ve lived on the twelfth floor in an apartment in the heart of 10 million people in Bangkok. We’ve also lived in two homes in Surin city, and now our rented house in Prasat is where we call “home,” because that’s where our dogs live.
This living between worlds is even more crazy for our kids. Our four kids have grown up living “everywhere and nowhere” all at the same time. Now Lindsey and Erica are both on campus at Bob Jones University, and Lindsey recently said, “Living on campus is the closest I feel to being ‘at home’ because it’s the one place where I have been able to unpack my suitcases since leaving Thailand.” Yeah, life for MKs is complicated. I think you might start to understand why we might stare at you blankly if you see our family here in the States and say “Welcome Home” to us.
For missionary kids, mostly belonging is one of their superpowers. They exist in an unfamiliar world we call the “Third Culture,” where they have partial ownership of their passport country (America) and their mission field, but not complete ownership or understanding of either place. This presents some pretty unique challenges when MKs come back to the States for life after the mission field and that’s a big part of why we’ve been here all summer.
Missionary Kid (MK) Ministry Update
This summer has been full of some of the most amazing opportunities to interact with missionary kids from all over the world. In August, I spoke to 48 MKs from 27 different countries for the morning chapels at the first-ever Wilds MK camp in North Carolina. One of the highlights of the summer for me was listening to the testimonies on the final night of camp, and seeing how the week had deeply impacted the MKs for Christ. We’re so thankful the Wilds and Camps Abroad have taken up a burden for his needy ministry!
Back in August, we were able to spend several hours on campus at Bob Jones University speaking to the incoming freshmen MKs during their international orientation and also helping facilitate an MK panel with upper classmen MKs in the Center for Global Opportunities. Since that time, we’ve hosted groups of BJU MKs at our in-law’s house in Greenville and, more recently, put together an informal pizza/taco party on campus. Nobody likes free Taco Bell more than college-aged missionary kids!
Courtney and I also flew to Dallas in September to attend the Missionary Kid Caregiver Summit (MKCS), where we were able to hear many of our favorite MK authors share their burdens during the workshops. I’ll be flying next to Wisconsin in about 10 days to make a presentation about MK care to the Board of Directors of Baptist World Mission.
Back in September, we joined our friends, Bryan and Sommer Lowery, to start the “Southeast Asia MK Community” Zoom meeting. This twice-a-month online Zoom meeting has been a burden of ours for many months now, and we had around 40 MKs for the first meeting. One of the goals of this meeting is to give these MKs a chance to fellowship and interact during this time of social isolation in Southeast Asia, where Covid continues to rage and lockdowns are still the norm.
Back to Thailand
After all these details about MK ministry, you’re probably wondering about ministry in Thailand, right? If you are wondering if our ministry is changing, it’s NOT. We are very excited about getting back to our church planting ministry in Thailand. We are so excited to announce that as of October 1, the quarantine period for people returning to Thailand has been lowered from 15 nights to 7 nights! This is a huge deal for us as it will save us around $3000 in quarantine costs. We have purchased tickets and reserved our quarantine facility already. We have submitted the preapproval request to the Thai embassy in Washington and are waiting for the paperwork to be approved.
Provided our paperwork is approved, we will fly out on October 18 and arrive in Thailand on October 20. Will you take a moment and pray with us about the following needs?
1. Please pray for all of the details of our return to Thailand – much paperwork goes into this process.
2. Pray that none of us will test positive for Covid between now and the end of quarantine. If any of us tests positive prior to leaving, we have to cancel ALL the paperwork and reservations and start over. If any of us tests positive in quarantine, we will be taken to hospitals for an additional two week stay quarantined in the hospital. Not our idea of a smooth transition.
3. We especially need your prayers as we say “goodbye” once more to our girls in just a couple weeks. When we leave this time, we don’t know when we’ll see them again so that’s pretty rough on all of us. Living between worlds has some unique challenges! And we know that God’s grace will be sufficient every step of the way.
For Christ in Thailand
Matt and Courtney Jones
Lindsey, Erica, Trevor, Tyler
Baptist World Mission