– Maria, Gloria and Debbie Hii
As missionary kids, there’s no greater blessing than to follow our parents in their footsteps to be the light and salt of the world. However, that is not to say that it has been an easy transition from Malaysia to the UK.
In the past 6 years, we’ve learnt many lessons that we’d never have experienced if we’d not stepped out of our comfort zone. Coming from a small town with people wearing t-shirts, slippers and what-nots, we were whisked away to a bustling city where locations on the Monopoly board came to life. Our ideas of England were streets paved with gold and a daily 3pm afternoon-tea; but our expectations were dashed. We can still vividly recall the day we stepped into our church in London. Honestly, when we were led to the main chapel, we thought that it was a function hall until we saw the cross at the altar! This first impression along with our experiences over these past few years, was quite different to what we had imagined England—a supposedly Christian country—would be like.
Faith in the UK can not be compared to what we know back in Malaysia. In particular, school was the first eye-opener for us as we slowly discovered that agnosticism and atheism are strongly advocated amongst school kids. In school, students are encouraged to openly discuss their opinions where they would debate and argue about their beliefs; despite being in a Christian school, Christianity is no longer valued and is frequently dismissed with a shake of head or a sigh. Being in such environment, we were swayed easily under the influence of strong voices. Often, we would go home to question our parents about the points made in debates and needed re-assurance on our faith: they seem valid and compelling to us. Sometimes, we wondered that if our upbringing hadn’t been strongly rooted in Christianity, would we have easily turned away. Furthermore, morality is undermined and the partying culture is extremely popular starting from as early as year 7. As the years progress into year 8,9,10 and so on, drinking and smoking are part of the social-school life. As Christians, we felt unable to connect and share the same point of interest. This helplessness was a burden to us and as individuals, it was hard to stand strong and live by: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world”.
We’ve experienced a cultural shock that may not seem to be a big deal to others but as adolescents who were already trying to discover who we were, moving into a completely strange environment with no friends made the process tougher. It took us years to ease into the rhythm of the lifestyle here. Even so, we’ve lost connection with our childhood friends. Having to experience impermanence was painful for us as we had to start over again with our friendships. One thing we’ve also learned from going back in July 2017 for the 20th anniversary of mission mobilisation retreat is that we are not alone. Meeting rare fellow missionary kids like us, we were able to immediately relate to each other’s problems, especially what we call being in “no man’s land”. This is a situation that weve discussed with fellow missionaries and missionary kids, that of not being able to truly fit into a group.
In conclusion, we came as foreigners into the mission field which seems now to be more “like home” only to discover that we are now strangers back in Sarawak, our homeland.