This is the question that can make me, or any TCK, cry. "Where are you from?" I don't know! What year are you talking about? Do you want to know what my passport says or where I've spent most of my life? Should I give you the short version or do you really want the full un-edited version?
So, here goes, I'm going to give you the long version....
My parents were missionaries in Jos, Nigeria and that's where I was born....under the British flag. A year and a few months later, Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain. And in case you're wondering, in spite of being born in Nigeria under the British flag, I was born of American citizens, so I am American by nationality. Confused yet?
By the time I was two, we had lived in two different places in Jos....one a house and one an apartment. I have no idea which one we lived in first since I was only two!
Years later when I went to Jos on a short term mission trip, I stayed in this same apartment building.
From there we went on home assignment and we lived in a farm house that we rented from the farmer. The only recollection I have of this house is that I fell and cracked my head open on a toy and had to get stitches, but I don't remember the house itself. I also got my tonsils out during that home assignment, which I remember.
When we no longer lived in this house, every time we'd arrive in Cedarville we drove past and my dad would yell out the window, "Get outta my house!" So it became kind of a tradition that as we rolled by we'd all yell, "Get outta my house!" Sadly the house was abandoned a number of years ago and is a total wreck now. There's nobody there any more to yell at!
From there we went back to Nigeria and we lived in Igbaja. I don't have any pictures of the outside of our house, but it was a great place to grow up. I absolutely loved it there. This is a picture of our family with some of the Bible school students. I'm the little blonde one.
On our next home assignment, we lived in Cedarville, Ohio again. First we lived in this house in town. It had been divided into two apartments. It had high ceilings and carved door frames and must have been gorgeous in its day.
Then we lived in a rented farm house outside town. Both of these pictures were actually taken years later. I don't remember much about the big house, but I do remember the farm house pretty well. I loved it there.
Then it was back to Igbaja in Nigeria. Here is what Igbaja looked like from the air back then. I think our house was somewhere up there in the upper part of the picture. Like I said before, I loved growing up in Igbaja. We lived in three different houses there.
In 1970, we went back to the USA and this time we lived in Osceola, Indiana. First we lived in a really small house while my parents looked for a house to buy. This is the beauty they got....15 rooms if I remember correctly
Somebody had made the upstairs into an apartment, but we just used it as bedrooms. We had lots and lots of room for guests! My dad took this picture years later when somebody else was living there and had made some nice improvements to it. I was in 6th grade that year and it was a pretty tough year, partly just because it was 6th grade, but also because I wanted to be living in Igbaja and I was going through some pretty serious culture shock. But I adapted and made it through.
Then in 8th grade we moved to Syracuse, NY. My dad was working on a degree from Syracuse University and we got an apartment in married students' housing. It was VERY small and it worked only because my brother also left for college that year. When he was home, he had to sleep on the couch in the living room. You can see the apartments behind us in this picture. That's me with the plaid coat with the hood up. My mom, sister, aunt, uncle, and cousins are also in the picture. Even though we were only there a year, I really liked our school. It was the first or second year of a new Christian school and it was really small, so it was easy to get to know the other kids. Because it was a new school, they hadn't all grown up together, so we were all new together.
By now you are probably wishing I'd gone with the short version of the story!
Our next move was to Arvada, CO and we lived there for five years and I went to the same high school all four years. I think that was the longest I ever attended one school. It was a small Christian school, too, and I had some pretty good friends there especially as some of them were also in our church youth group. I don't seem to have a very good picture of the outside of that
house. It was a light brown brick, ranch style, with brown trim. We finished off the basement and then we all had our own bedroom. My brother switched colleges and lived at home while he finished school.
After four years of living there, I went back to Cedarville, Ohio to attend what was then Cedarville College, but is now Cedarville University. I won't show you all my dorms. I also lived with my wonderful Great Aunt Jeanette the first two years I was in college.
Meanwhile my parents moved to South Carolina, so that was home when I was on school breaks. And then when I graduated from college, I got my first teaching job in Morganton, NC. I shared an apartment that was above a garage and both of us taught at the same school. Our landlords were the best and both worked for one of the factories that makes really nice furniture (Drexel Heritage, I think), and they had furnished the apartment with "seconds" which looked pretty good to me! But, sorry, folks, no pictures! It was definitely a stretching year as it was truly a cross-cultural experience for me. It was good training for the mission field which is where I went next.
My next stop was four years in Miango, Nigeria, where I taught 4th grade at Kent Academy. Again, I seem to have no pictures of my apartment, but here's one of my backyard. I really enjoyed living in Miango, but wouldn't you know it, the man of my dreams came along and he was working in Niger.
So, in 1986 we got married. My grandpa had just gone into a nursing home, so he let us live in his house in Susquehanna, PA. By then my parents and sister were living in Binghamton, New York, so they weren't far away. We only lived there four months.
Then we moved to Quebec, Canada so I could study French. I have pictures somewhere, but not on this computer. We subleased a three-bedroom apartment and had no furniture. Well, we had two living room chairs, a kitchen table and chairs and appliances, a bed, and a desk. I don't remember if we had a dresser or not. But we were living on love, so we didn't care.
And then we were off to Niger. We spent our first three years in Niamey. Again, I know we have pictures of the house, but I can't come up with any. Daniel was born while we lived there and here's a picture of him and John playing outside. That's our Peugeot 504 in the background.
And then back to the USA. Since the kids were born, we've spent every home assignment at Missionary Retreat Fellowship. It's the perfect place for missionaries and we consider that to be our American "home" as much as anywhere now. Our first home assignment there Suzanne was born and we lived in this house you can see in the background.
Now, as you can see, in the story of a TCK's life, it goes on and on with "and then we moved to". Sorry-o!
And then we moved back to Niamey, but only for a year. We lived in this house which you can just see in the background. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time, by the way.
From there we moved to the village that we called home for the next 16 years. 16 years!!! That's a record!!!!
And every time we went on home assignment we stayed in this house at Missionary Retreat Fellowship. I think we stayed in this house four different times for a year each time.
In January 2008 we moved back to Niamey and have lived in the same house ever since.
Well, we did take two years in the USA; one of them we was at the house above in Pennsylvania and one of them we lived in this apartment on the campus of Washington Bible College in Lanham, MD. Our apartment was the bottom right. There were four apartments on this end and then multiple studio apartments in the rest of the building which you can't see in this photo. It was a nice apartment, but John had TERRIBLE allergies there.
So now you know why questions like "Where are you from?" and "Tell us about your hometown" is enough to make me cry! I guess home is where the suitcase is.