One of the elements I loved about Found in Translation was its unique setting–a short-term mission trip. (You can read my recommendation Found in Translation on May 23, 2012. )

Roger, have you  been on short-term mission trips?

I’ve been on countless trips, starting with one to Australia in 1993. I’ve been back to Australia several times since then, but I’ve also gone to England and Wales once each and to Romania twice. Romania is the only non-English speaking country I’ve been to.

Growing up as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid, I’ve always been interested in missions. But that interest really started to grow in 1984 when I got a job at the International Mission Board (then still the Foreign Mission Board).

Home staff members were encouraged to participate in short term projects, but not until 1993 did I feel the call to do that. That first trip to Australia was SO busy, but that didn’t matter.

You and your daughter Kristi wrote Found in Translation and its sequel, Lost in Dreams, together. How did that come about?

It came about because Kristi went on a mission trip to Mexico when she was eighteen. Like Kim, she took things she didn’t need, failed to take things she did, paid for overweight baggage, did construction, and worked in an area that had a lot of trash.

Listing Kristi as a co-author, however, was a publishing decision rather than a statement of fact.  She did write the Foreword to the first book, however, but that’s all. She read my manuscript upon completion and gave it her approval. But since I wasn’t telling her story as such, it didn’t contain anything she could disapprove of.

How can parents who are not going with their teen on a mission trip support and help that teen?

First thing is the parents shouldn’t simply plunk down the money for the trip. Have the teen work—whether at home or at an actual job—to earn some or all of the money. That vests a kid’s interest in the project and motivates his or her sense of ownership.

Parents should also encourage teen participants to study the culture of the people they’ll be living and serving among. People are people, and meeting other members of the Christian family in another country is an EXTREMELY special feeling. But differences will exist, and the better prepared a teen is to accept them and not say, “This is the way we do it back home,” the more effective they’ll be.

(My interview with Roger continues on Thursday.)


Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer, and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.