Chris and Janine Pluger serve in translation ministry with the Nsenga people of Zambia. Their son, Sean, offers his perceptions on growing up in two cultures.
What’s your history? (Were you born overseas? How long have your parents been missionaries? How many countries have you lived in?)
I was born in Milwaukee while my dad was still a teacher. Then we moved to Ohio, where I went to school wherever my dad was teaching. When I was in second grade we moved to Texas so my parents could go to school to learn about Bible translation. Then we spent another year in Ohio. We finally moved to Zambia when I was nine. I’m twelve now, and in seventh grade.
Have you been on furlough? What is it like to live in the United States after growing up in a different country and culture?
We are on our first furlough right now. It is great to be in America after living in Zambia for the last three years.
If you are currently on furlough, what do you miss most about living on the mission field? What do you miss the least?
I miss my tabby Siamese cat, Riley, the most. Also, I miss our two dogs Charlie and Strider, and my two Italian friends Filippo and Damiano. The things I miss the least about Zambia are: the isolation, power cuts, the long drives over bumpy roads, very long church services in a foreign language, lack of fast food, and not being able to celebrate holidays in our traditional way.
How easy or difficult was it to make friends, do schoolwork, and other “normal” activities while being known as a “missionary kid” by the community?
In Zambia, I didn’t fit in because I’m the only white kid in town and didn’t speak the language. The friends I did make in town went away to boarding school not long after I got there, so then I was alone again.
In the U.S., I do kind of fit in because the kids at school know me from before I went to Zambia. They ask me questions about Africa but I still feel pretty normal.
What is your favorite memory of living overseas?
I really enjoyed it the two times my grandma got to come and visit us – especially last year when she came for Christmas and we went on safari.
How has the mission work of your parents influenced you and your faith?
All of our travels have given me a wider view of the world. I have seen people worship in many different ways, and that makes me feel more at home in my own tradition.
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