TCKs You Should Know – TJ

TJ TJ, How old are you? I am 12 years old.

Do you have any siblings? One sister—she is 10 years old.

Where do you live? Kandern, Germany—southwest Germany, near Basel, Switzerland.

Have you lived anywhere else?

Yes, Ukraine and Russia.

Why did you move from those places?

We moved from Russia because visas were hard to get and education was hard to get, too.

What schooling options have you used?

I went to Ukrainian and Russian preschool.  I was home schooled in 1st grade. In 2nd grade we moved to the States for a while and I did 2nd grade there.  I skipped 3rd grade.  I went to a small MK school in Russia for 4th grade. It shut down pretty soon after I started going there. Then I home schooled again for the last half of the school year.  For 5th grade I’m in Kandern, Germany at BFA.

What do your parents do that make you live in Ukraine, Russia, and Germany?

Well, my Mom is a teacher and my Dad is still involved in his ministry in Russia.  His ministry in Russia was working with churches.

When did you move to Germany? About 7 months ago. (August 2009)

How did you feel when your parents told you they were moving your family out of Russia to Germany?

I felt pretty sad because I was going to lose all my friends.  I was also happy because we had visited here.  So, I was excited but I was also sad.

What do you think about living here now?

I like it a lot, but I still miss my friends back in Russia.  In some ways I wish that I could be here. In some ways I wish that I could be back there.

What do you miss about Russia besides your friends? It’s a pretty fun place. It’s kind of different from the States and Ukraine.  It was fun to learn the language.  It was the place wherre I grew up most of my life so far.  So, yeah . . . I miss it.

What do you like about Kandern so far? Well, I’ve made some friends.  It’s a pretty small town that’s surprisingly really safe compared to where I was living before.  It seems really different in some ways and really kine of the same, too.

What feels different?  As I said before it’s pretty safe compared to where I lived before, and it’s a completely different language.  The town itself is completely different.  It felt strange when I first came.  It feels out of place and different to be away from Russia.

What feels the same? I have lots of good friends.  The house feels pretty much the same. Just, I don’t know . . . so much of it feels the same and different at the same time.

The hardest part of moving and saying good-bye to my friends . . . was the last night in Russia.  For the last two weeks we’d been living with friends in their house.  The last night I was with my two friends up in their room and I was so sad.  When we went to the airport I was so sad and crying so hard.  I kept thinking in my mind that I’d never see them again.  I’m still not sure if I’ll see them again.

Do you think you have any advantages in life because you’re a TCK?

Well, some.  Like I’m used to be teased and used to living in a different spot where everything is different.  I’m used to pretty much everything that any other normal person wouldn’t be used to.  So, I don’t lose my temper when I’m being picked on.  I’m used to learning a new language. It probably wouldn’t be that hard for me to learn a new one.  I’m used to change.

Do you think you miss out on anything because you’re a TCK?

I dont’ really think so because almost everybody I know is a TCK.  I’ve started fitting in, so I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything.

What advice do you have for those becoming TCKs?

It’s perfectly normal to feel sad and confused.  When you feel like you’re not going to be able to learn the language, or when you get overwhelmed because you think you won’t have any friends, it’s perfectly normal.  I, myself, thought I wouldn’t have any friends and I hated going to Ukrainian preschool, but then I got used to it, made friends, and wasn’t confused.  The language was easier to learn and I got on fine.  If you miss your friends, that’s normal.  Talk to your parents if you feel confused or overwhelmed because they can help you.

What advice do you have for parents who are thinking about moving their family overseas?

If you really feel that God wants to have your family wherever you feel you’re supposed to move to, you have to trust God that He will help you, provide for you, and get you there.  Do it wholeheartedly.  Trust that He has the best plan for you.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a scientist.

photo courtesy of Sheryl and TJ

47 responses to “TCKs You Should Know – TJ”

  1. COMMON! Yeah buddy! I’m a TCK too. I know what it like moving a lot as well. In about 10 years you will be really glad that you had so much international experience, and don’t worry with the internet these days you will probably be able to see you old friends.
    I just met a friend last year that I hadn’t seen in 16 years!! Don’t worry. Just stay in touch with them and it will happen.
    Blessings! You are awesome dude.

  2. Embrace the opportunity you have been given. You are positive and can learn from all you come into contact with. I married a TCK and 20 years later I learn from him everday. I’m envious that he is fluent in so many languages and knows so many cultures. An opportunity I never had as a child, that I wished I had. Stay positive and things in life will work out and you will acheive your dreams.

  3. Wow. I wish I had been as wise when I was 12. Now that I’m 20, I know the answers to these questions, but back when I was 12 I was just sad and confused. Way to go, TJ!

  4. Hey TJ,
    Yer a smart cookie. I can tell. I’m a teacher and stuff. I get to work with students like you all the time. My TCK’s are age 3-19! I have about 425 of them at an International School in Malaysia called Dalat. Here’s a question I would have liked to have heard your answer on. What questions can an adult ask you to make sure you are transitioning well without being annoying or is there something they can do to check up on you (this is people like me who aren’t your parents or family)? I like that you said it was normal to feel the ways we as humans (and you as a TCK) feel during transition. We often think we are the ONLY one who feels that way. That stinks. Lastly, what kind of science are you into? I like Life Science, biological classification (and disections!), genetics and other fancy Scientific stuff like that. Thanks for sharing, you Rock!

  5. Well, first of all TJ is the coolest name ever (that’s my nickname, too) : ) GREAT perspective and I say, forget being a scientist and take Sheryl’s job when she retires!

  6. I’m not sure what kind of science i like… i just like science in general. i kinda feel just normal when somebody asks me how I’m doing. This really awkward being posted on the web for the first time in my life.

  7. people could say ” I’m sorry that you have to go away from your friends” or ” I know you’re sad about leaving, but where we are going isn’t as bad as you think it is.”

  8. Hi Teej! You gave Sheryl a terrific interview. Because I visited you and your family so many times in Russia, I can vouch that everything you said about yourself as a TCK is true. Being sad over a loss of some kind is not a bad feeling, and can be a very useful one – as you seem to feel. My son and daughter were “partially” TCKs in Russia and they would agree with you too. Personally, I am sad because I don’t get to visit you and your family like I used to. I truly miss you, Hannah and your Mom. At least I got to see your Dad in January. That was good!
    God bless you,
    Mr. Schwarz

  9. Hi there TJ,
    My Mom and I enjoyed reading your answers to these questions. I am a TCK and so is she, my Dad is too, as well as my younger sister. I am 10 years old, I am American and I live in South Africa, my Dad works with a Christian ministry… I sometimes feel the way you feel when I have to go somewhere else and I don’t know anyone. Hope it all goes well. Jean Marc (pronounced Jon Mark)

  10. Great interview, TJ! I knew you in Ukraine when you were a little kid, and it sounds like you’ve grown up into quite the wonderful young man. It was fun to get to know you a bit more 🙂

  11. Hey TJ.
    It’s great to hear how your doing in Germany. Glad you’ve made so many friends. We always pray for you and your family. I hope I get to see you on your next trip to the States.

  12. TJ, I was a military kid and we moved a lot. The hardest thing for me was coming home to the place my parents called home, but where I’d never lived myself. Answering questions like, “Where are you from? What is your home town?” were difficult. Am I from the last place I lived? Or from my parents’ home town? Or from where my parents live now? I still have problems answering that question and I’m 57. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m proud of you TJ! You are making the most of an incredible experience. Soak it up! And help Hannah to do the same.

  13. It’s so great to hear your opinions, TJ, and especially your advice to parents about the need to trust God. That’s good advice for all of us. I can see you are also living out what you are asking others to do; that’s why you have learned to be content wherever you are, even though there is an adjustment period. Congratulations on learning so many different languages. How many 12 year olds can say that? I don’t think too many. You are very special and I hope I get to meet you one day. I lived with your mom for a year in East Asia. God bless you and all your family!

  14. TJ, you have always impressed me, though I haven’t seen you for several years. I also miss my time in Russia. Yet, my ongoing friendship with your parents proves to me that friendships can go on regardless of where one lives.

    Having been at a Christian college for many years, I was always impressed with MKs/TCKs. Other students looked up to them as being so much more wise, easy going, maybe more “street smart”, and relatively uncluttered with western stuff. In fact, they tended to do better in classes because of their ability to learn, and maybe the ability to focus on what is important.

    You are a cool dude, TJ. Thanks for being so open to share your experience with others and me.

  15. TJ! So great to hear a bit about your “world” and the things you are learning and experiencing! We have known your parents forever.. (well not really) but are always so encouraged to hear about God is using your family to reach folks. I know that the Lord is at work in you and your sister’s life as you trust Him with the joys and challenges of living in different places. Our family has lived on other countries for a while too and it is neat now to see how that time shaped our girls in so many ways!
    Hope we can meet you in person sometime!!! Come to Texas and we will feed you some good Barbeque and Mexican food!!

    Take care!
    Barbara Culwell

  16. Great comments TJ! and great insights into being a TJK. I look forward to sharing with my kids here in Seattle. There are going to tons of opportunities for people with a third culture experience in science in coming years, you will do great!!

  17. Way to go TJ. We are proud to see you growing up in the Lord with such wisdom to share. Keep up the good work. I have cousins at BFA, a teacher, Rob Carey is married to my cousin Carrie. Their kids Amanda and Micah who attend there are also related to me. Give them a greeting from their cousin Marilyn in Bend Oregon. Enjoy the ride that God gives you.

  18. Hey buddy great interview. I’m sure it must be tuff sometimes with all the changes but you have had some amazing experiences, and more to come. You will remember these times forever.

  19. TJ – You Rock!

    That was a seriously good interview. You are very articulate and wise behind your ears. Aunt Beth and I think the world of you. Press on!

    Uncle Eric

  20. Great job, TJ!! I sure am proud of you and impressed with how well you are adjusting to change. My whole family misses you & wishes you the best! Russia is just not the same without you!

  21. Hi TJ !
    I loved reading your thoughtful and wise interview.:)
    Even though I was not a missionary kid, I could really relate to your feelings and answers.. Because my Dad was in th air force we had to change alot too. I went to 9 schools by 9th grade. But it helped me too to be confident like you are in new places, and now I can see how God helped me!you arealready learning that! My family was also very special because they stayed the same and we had fun. 🙂
    Great interview!! Terry

  22. T.J. I just want to say, I think you’re great! It must be hard to have so many big changes in your life, but you are trusting God and He is giving you some wonderful experiences that most people will never have. God bless you!

  23. Wow TJ,

    What a neat testimony! You have worked so hard and accomplished so much! I know the Lord has some neat things in store for you! I admire your language skills and your flexibility! My prayer for you and all the wonderful TCK’s is that you would know in your heart that you are really and truly loved by God and that you would take great delight in seeing God do amazing things in and around you!!

    Dream big for anything and everything is possible!!

  24. Tj, Sorry, I sent my last message too soon in error! Heather, Dani, Ashley and Brian say hello. We all hope you and your family will come to Eugene and visit again soon. You can always count us among the many friends you have all over the world! Say hi to your folks for me, Andy

  25. Very insightful TJ! I wish I could speak another language too. You have so many life experiences already. I will enjoy seeing how God uses those experiences in your life over the years. Hope to see you back in Bellevue sometime soon. The trampolines and the kids are ready at the deBruyn and Montoya houses.

    Mrs. deBruyn

  26. TJ,

    You have always had a depth of maturity and such a gentle and kind spirit.

    We are very happy that you have made a good adjustment to your new home and school. God puts experiences in our lives to prepare us for the next step in life.

    Anymore, the world is a very small place. I think you will see your friends (from Seattle to Krasnodar) again!

    I don’t like that you get teased, I might have to send Uncle Josh over there with my super-soaker water gun! (When your Dad was in college, I wanted a super-soaker for my birthday, so he sent me one. But that Uncle Josh was stronger than me and he took it. One night he crawled into my bedroom and blasted me with water in my bed!) So let me know if you need him!

    Papa and I are so very proud of you!

    Nana Sue and Papa Wayne

  27. TJ – Thanks for doing this interview. I’m glad you like Kandern and BFA. Sara and I visited there and it is a beautiful, fun place – mostly because of the amazing people we know & met there. Maybe we can come visit you sometime or maybe you can come see us! I think good byes are the hardest part, too! But I always enjoy meeting new people at the new places God sends me. Trusting in God and that He will direct our paths is an amazing way to live and will help you be an incredible scientist, too! It is such a joy to see God at work in your life. Say “Hey!” to your family from us! We love you!

  28. Awesome job TJ! When i read this all i could think was “oh i know him! he is awesome! i know somebody famous!” sounds like you are doing great and as one of your friends i miss you alot! Hang in there man =)

    best wishs my awesome robot friend! 😉

    That guy you know in Russia Spencer =)

  29. Hi, TJ! i really appreciated your honest answers. My kids have struggled with missing their friends too. Each new place has its great things and there will always be things or people we’ll miss from the last place. That’s just the nature of moving. But we become better people in the end if we see the good in the move and not just the loss. It sounds like that’s what you’re doing! 🙂
    We miss you and your family. Hope to see you again this summer!

  30. Hey TJ, great job! You’re a real example to our kids, since you’ve gone before them and done it all first: everything that’s new to them, you’ve gone through already. We look at you and see the great young man you’re becoming, and it gives us confidence that they’ll get through this crazy TCK life too. You da man!

  31. TJ – that was a good read. Physical roots are indeed difficult to put down sometimes, but the spiritual roots are so much more important.Following Jesus requires us to hold friends, family, and familiar surroundings loosely (Matthew 19:29), but the rewards are great. You’ve been given a unique perspective on life and experiences that few at your age have ever had. I suspect there are great things ahead of you!

  32. TJ, do they have Boy Scouts in Kandern? Just wondering, because that can be a worldwide connection for you. I was glad I could get to know you in Russia and help you learn some knot tying. Sounds like God has you on a path to develop you in ways that most kids will never get to experience. Different cultures, languages and educational opportunities can shape you into the young man God wants you to be for His glory. Keep your sights high and walk with your Good Shepherd! (Prov. 3:5-6; Psalms 1 and 23)

  33. Hi TJ,
    It was so cool to read your responses to Miss Sheryl’s questions. I want you to know that you are a great TCK. Right now I am living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I miss my friends in the states but are enjoying my old friends and the new ones I am making this time here. My kids are TCKs and now I have two grandkids that are. Stay faithful to the Lord! I hope you fulfill your dreams. Give Hannah a big hug and your Mom and Dad as well. Arlene Flurry

  34. T.J. Great Interview bud !!!! Glad all is well with you. I am so envious of your command of so many languages, I just wish i could even speak english correctly ! LOL It was great to visit with you the other day and great job at “snow camp” !!!

  35. Hey TJ! Thanks for doing this interview. You did a great job and your insights taught me a ton! Tell your family “HI” from me. Thankful to God for you, Corey

  36. Hey, TJ,

    I’m glad you are in Kandern. It is so wonderful to have another family we know well to do things with. You are such a deep thinker. I’m proud to know you. It will be interesting to hear about what you become as an adult. I’m sure God has something really special for you.

  37. TJ

    I really enjoyed reading your interview! I’ve just met you a few times, but we’ve loved your family for years!! I was actually on a short-term summer mission in college where you are, so I can visualize it! I used to run from there to France and Sweden! Of course, I didn’t take my passport in my running shorts, so it got kind of tricky one time…

  38. You played with legos in my family’s apartment in Ukraine when you were really little 🙂

    I grew up as an MK in Kiev, Ukraine, and I have a brother Benjamin, a sister Mary, and another sister Abigail.

    I hope you are doing well! My cousins went to BFA’s high school for a little while – Kurt and Kelli Bannert.

    I hope you like learning German – I like learning new languages, too!

  39. Great interview, TJ.! Really enjoyed your insights on dealing with change. Your maturity and ability to adapt will serve you well throughout life. Tell your folks “hello”. Thanks so much for sharing about life as a TCK. God Bless You! Aufederzain.(sp?)

  40. Hey TJ,
    Thanks for sharing, man, and thanks for your honesty. I hear you on the preschool – it didn’t go over well in our family either. Thanks also, for giving us adults a glimpse at what you’re really thinking. Sometime it’s kind of hard to get you guys to open up (MKs, I mean), so I’m just glad that some of the stuff you experienced and thought about it are out here for us to read and think about too. I hope the Lord gives you some great friends and some great times there at BFA to add to your stock of things he’s led you to. It’ll be neat to see what he’s got for you next! Keep on looking to Him!

  41. Dear TJ:
    I’m very proud of you! You don’t remember me, but I knew your mom and dad before they were married and have followed your growing up all over Europe. You are very fortunate to be a third culture kid–they are the most blessed people in the world. God has something very special for you in the years to come, because He would not have packed such unusual experiences in your backpack unless He intended you to have those experiences to share with others in your trip through life. You will make a difference in this world. You are growing up very nicely. ‘Way to go! My prayers are with you. Blessings!
    Pastor Monnie Brewer
    Dallas, TX USA

  42. Well Mr. McClennan they do have a boy scout troop down in a city in Switzerland (Basel) (45 minute drive). So I’m part of the troop now, and it’s fun! One of the 6th graders that goes to BFA is part of the troop too.
    Well I’m glad to see so many familiar faces, I miss all of you so much!!!


  43. TJ, I am really proud of you. You don’t know me, but your dad had a tremendous spiritual impact on my husband when he was struggling as a student at the University of Oregon. I can see from your response to the call on your family’s life that your dad has had that same influence on you! My girls and I are moving back to Malawi after a year and a half leave of absence, bringing yet another change into their lives. They have also experienced a lot of school and culture changes, but I can see, like you said, that it has made them more adaptable! God bless you as you serve alongside your parents!

  44. Hi TJ,

    It’s fun to read your interview. I pray that you continue to enjoy Kandern and your new friends. I know it’s hard to leave place and people you love. Hope you had a great Easter break.

    Miss Mari Ellen

  45. Hello TJ,

    I loved your interview and am SO proud of you! I know you really miss your friends in Russia and know they miss you and your family a lot. But – I am very happy that you have had such great opportunities to travel, meet new people, learn new languages and have experiences that most people will never have in their entire lives. You certainly are maturing into a very fine young man and I am honored to be a part of your life. I love having you in Moscow and hope you come visit me there again soon.

    With much love to you and all your family,

    Aunt Marilyn

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