It's an odd way to start a conversation, but it does happen. Not that I mind. Not in the slightest. I'll admit that I've had a life which is less than normal and I'm more than happy to talk about it.
It all began in 1992. My parents left fairly well paying jobs, packed up their three young children, and moved into a missionary community on the edge of Nuneaton, England. It was an immense leap of faith, something they did with very little money. For however long they lived there, they'd have to rely on the generosity of donors to fund their work.
They'd felt like they needed to do it for many years. People called them "mad", called them "crazy", but it was something they desperately wanted to do. They wanted to make a positive change in the world. Wanted to help people who'd lost homes, families, jobs. Wanted to rebuild places which had been destroyed by war or natural disaster. And they wanted to do it all with love.
One thing they thought long and hard about was how it would affect us. At the time, my younger brothers and myself were 3, 8, and 11. It was a huge move for us. New home, new people, new schools, new friends, new town, whole new life. The town we left behind was, at the time, not the greatest place. It had all but died when the collieries left.
It was a bit of a shock to the system. We'd gone from living in a small, semi detached house to this:
But so are nightmares. Living with around 200 people, while great for building social skills, could be horrific for those of us pushed out in to the real world. My parents wanted us to live as normal life as possible so we went to mainstream schools, attended events outside of the missionary base, and generally explored the world like any other kid would. However, at school, I was bullied because of where I lived, because of the way I spoke (my accent was slightly Americanised during that period), because of the clothes I wore, because I wasn't in to the fashions and trends of the time. Kids can be so cruel and so merciless, and that period of my life was not a good one. I got in to some pretty dark places, began skipping school. It was horrendous.
However, the good times definitely outweighed the bad. Can you imagine being a kid and having 200+ other people from all over the world to learn from?! It was crazy! I learned to play some cool games, had deep discussions until 3am, learned to cook some wonderful foods, tried even more wonderful foods. They were brilliant times, character building as my Dad would call them.
I'll definitely write more about this. There's 10 years worth of material sitting in my head. Admittedly, my parents tell some of the best stories. Maybe, just maybe, I'll convince them to write something for here.
Thanks for reading, and much love to you all!