From the Field

What It’s Like to Teach (And Learn From) Missionary Kids

From the Field

What It’s Like to Teach (And Learn From) Missionary Kids

By March 10, 2022November 9th, 2022No Comments

Missionary Kids, Third-Culture Kids, and other children who grow up in a culture other than their own have many experiences that cause them to see the world a bit differently. 

As a Missionary Kid Teacher in Kibuye, Burundi, it has been such a pleasure for me to spend time with the kids on our team and learn about their lives and how they think about and perceive things. 

Here are just a few stories to give you a taste of what it is like for me to witness how this life has shaped the wonderful young ones that are part of my life here:

Towards the end of the school year, our class took a field trip, of sorts, to the waterfalls to look at the ecosystem of insects there. Equipped with their nets all the children set out to collect any and everything that moved within the water. I have never seen a group of students so excited to catch and investigate things in nature, especially those that crawl!

On another day, while having lunch with one of the students, I asked her what she looks forward to about going to America. And her answer was…pre-measured butter! It was definitely not what I was expecting to hear, but now that she has pointed it out to me, I can see just how helpful it is to have the measurements on the wrapping of the stick of butter! It really saves a lot of time.

Here in Burundi, there are motorbikes that are called Pikis. They are what many people use as transport, and the team even owns some as well. The other day, I heard a child say, “Mom, can I have a piki-back ride?” She meant to say piggy-back ride, and I thought it was the cutest thing ever. Only in Burundi would a child think of a Piki, before thinking of a piggy.

Last week, I went grocery shopping with a family on my team. Their daughter walked around with me and helped me choose the best brands for each product. She knew exactly what kinds everyone here buys, and why they are better than the others. In a community that is so close, these are the things missionary kids learn quickly I guess.

The other day, I was sitting in my hammock, when a four-year-old on our team walked by on her way to the playground. She stopped and asked if she could sit with me in the hammock instead. She climbed in and we sat and chatted about life and the book of Proverbs for about 20 minutes until it was time for her to go home. We talked about Proverbs 12:18. “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing,” and discussed what a cutting remark might look like, and the meaning of the verse. What a sweet moment it was with her and for both of us to grow in our understanding of the Bible!

And one last story: there are many guava trees on the mission compound. As I learned from the kids, during guava season the children here spend at least a part of every day working hard to get the ripe guavas off the tall trees to eat. A couple of weeks ago, two of the kids were determined to get me a perfectly ripe guava to try because they were sure I would like it (I had tried an unripe one a while ago, and it was not my cup of tea). 

After spending the better part of an hour trying to get some down, one girl said, “we need a longer stick.” So she took me over to the large bamboo plant in the middle of the compound, and we worked together to pull off a very large, very stubborn stalk of bamboo. 

Finally, the bamboo stalk came off, and they continued with the quest for a ripe guava. After over an hour of trying different trees and different methods, they finally got a good one, checked it to make sure there were no maggots, and gave it to me to enjoy. And… it really was delicious! 

This is just one picture of the innovation, determination, and thoughtfulness of the kids on the compound. They worked really hard, using many different techniques just to find me a ripe guava because they thought I would like it.

On top of all these stories, I love seeing the children’s excitement over chocolate, helicopters, bike rides, hikes, games, and many other things.

Not to mention their vast understanding of things like chickens, cars, carpentry, making things from what is available, fruits and vegetables, lizards, the French and Kirundi Languages, and so much about different countries around the world. 

The things these missionary kids know and have experienced amazes me, and I absolutely love having the opportunity to learn from them.



If you are passionate about teaching (and caring for third-culture kids in particular), flexible, adaptable, collaborative, and excited to be in a close-knit community of missionary kids and their families – we want to talk with you!

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Erica Ause

Erica Ause

Erica Ause serves as a Missionary Kid Teacher in Kibuye, Burundi with Serge. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan she graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Elementary Education. Having grown up with parents who had been missionaries, and having participated in short-term missions, she is thankful that God has continued to provide her opportunities to serve Him that meet the passions God has given her and continues to pray for guidance in doing His will.