Utah-Idaho Women help orient Missionary Kids returning to US

CLAYTON, GA- August 2nd through 6th, Missionary Kids gathered at Camp Pinnacle in the hills of northeast Georgia for the annual MK Re-entry retreat. This annual event for the children of our international missionaries who are returning to the U.S to begin college is led by International Mission Board personnel and hosted in different states each year by state Woman’s Missionary Union.

Utah-Idaho churches partnered with Georgia Baptist women in hosting the retreat for 2021. Georgia provided the location, meals and a gift pack (with assistance from the national WMU Vision Fund).  Utah-Idaho gave each student with a $50 gift card provided through gifts from churches and individuals from throughout our two states.

Beth Ann Williams, lead strategist with Georgia Baptist Women coordinated the event and Beverly Skinner planned and carried out the details.  August 1st volunteers from Georgia and Greta Esplin and Mary McFarling, representing Utah-Idaho, gathered to prepare for student to arrive the following day.  Backpacks were stuffed with school supplies; recreation areas were prepared, refreshments readied, registration organized, and 50 bunkbeds were made up.  By Monday afternoon the camp was ready to welcome the students.

While flight delays forced last minute changes in transporting the students to camp, 50 students made their way to the week of worship, conferences, fun, relaxation and building connections.

Conferences led by IMB staff, former missionaries and older MKs were designed to help students prepare for life as a college freshman while also adjusting to a new culture.  Sessions ranged from training in basic skills such as laundry and car maintenance to current social issues, emotional health, finances and more. Beginning college is challenging for any student, but is especially so for these students far away from their parents and in an unfamiliar culture.  On the outside they appear to be like any other American college student, but inside they often feel they don’t fit.

The retreat is one place they all fit. The days provided opportunities to make new friends and, in some cases, to reconnect with fellow MKs from their region.  Also, activities were provided to help the MKs get to know each other and form bonds. An Amazing Race sent teams running across the campus interpreting clues and meeting challenges as simple as piling onto one bunk bed or as challenging as a relay kayaking across the lake. The week concluded with an event with an introduction to an American college tradition – a tailgate party!

Thank-you, Utah- Idaho churches for your part in providing this valuable ministry!

Mary McFarling
Utah-Idaho SBC
Women’s Missions and Ministries Network leader