The Friend Request That Made a Difference
The life of a missionary kid comes with many joys and blessings, but it isn’t always easy. Katelyn Carmody, one of our missionary teens, made a providential online connection earlier this year—which has led her into a ministry of serving other MKs like herself. She shares her story here.
For the first 4½ years of my life as a missionary I was completely unaware that there is a whole world of missionary kids out there that face the same problems, struggles, and joys as me. Inside of FMC we don’t have many teens, therefore I assumed that my siblings and I were kind of alone in this. Thankfully, God always gives us things at the perfect time and loves to bless us abundantly!
Here’s what happened…
One day I got an Instagram friend request from someone out there in the world of social media. After accepting this “friendship” I received a message from a girl we’ll call “Maq” who wanted to know if I’d be interested in participating in a group of missionary kids (MKs) from all over the world that she had just recently started. Me being me, I said “yes”. Boy, was I in for a whirlwind of surprises!
When I first joined the group there were 15 of us, but that didn’t last long. As the weeks passed more and more and more MKs joined in. I asked Maq if there was any way that I could be helpful, and that was the beginning of a wonderfully unexpected partnership and friendship.
Prior to our collaboration on this project there was no rhyme or reason to how this group was being handled, which was alright when there were just a couple dozen participants. But as the numbers continued to grow we realized that we had to get organized to handle it all. That was back in March, during our time of quarantine here in Nairobi, Kenya.
The best things in life are unexpected—because there are no expectations.
This whole project was initiated by the Holy Spirit who put this wonderful idea into Maq’s head a while ago. I believe that He brought us together because we work perfectly together and are compatible in every aspect. She is in charge of the social image of the Instagram group as well as the participant activities. I take care of the logistical side of things and make sure that everything is working well behind the scenes. One of my greatest strengths is planning and organizing, which is very helpful in this setting.
Since my initial communications with Maq this group has developed and evolved into something I could never have imagined and has been a huge blessing in my life. The goal of this group is to give MKs from every background and denomination a place of understanding, acceptance and fellowship.
After 4 short months, we have 250 participants from over 50 different countries and 15 leaders. Now, you might be wondering how all these people can talk in one HUGE group. The answer is, they can’t. Based on Maq’s and my past experiences with group chats we decided we had to set some rules in place so that they could be as enjoyable as possible. This has been a constant learning experience with lots of trial-error-repeat maneuvers.
So, how does someone join our group?
Step 1: They find our Instagram Account.
Step 2: They fill out the entrance form (at which point they’re automatically added to our spreadsheet).
Step 3: We take their names from the compiled spreadsheet and put them on a waiting list.
Step 4: In the last week of each month we close all previous groups and rearrange everyone, including the people on the waitlist, to form new groups of approximately 8 people, and then reopen the groups on the first of every month.
Step 5: Everyone gets to know each other for the first couple of days. Then, we post daily questions each day for the rest of the month so that kids have the chance to share their experiences, struggles, concerns, ideas or whatever.
Step 6: Sometime during the month we get to do a video call with the participants of each group and are able to see them face to face.
Step 7: At the end of the month we get new applicants and the process starts over again.
The point of closing the groups each month and opening new ones and the whole mixing people up is to give everyone a chance to meet everyone else. The cold hard truth is that not everyone is going to be friends with everyone. Maybe in a whole group there is only one person that you find interesting and long after the group is closed you stay in contact with him/her. All of this swapping around and extra work on our part has had a high success rate. Many people have told us how thankful they are that each month they get to hear new stories and learn more about different missionary lifestyles.
In all of this I am constantly amazed at the fluid nature of it. It makes me sure about the fact that this is from God. Every time a new idea is proposed it is accepted immediately or talked through and then accepted.
I will forever be grateful for that initial “friend request” many months ago that was the beginning of this life changing group.