Hello.  My name is Stephen Abbott and as of April 2010 I am a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore.          


       Though my parents spent their childhood in the United States, for the majority of their lives they have worked as missionaries in western Africa.  Ever since his college days, my father has worked as a missionary in Central America, South America, East Africa, and West Africa.  My mother joined him as his wife when he began working in western Africa, and that is where they worked for the next thirty years.  Both I and my brother Davy, who has Down’s syndrome, were born in a little town in the West African country of Côte-d’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast.  In 2002, a civil war broke out in Ivory Coast and our family had to be evacuated by the French and American military.  After a couple of years, we returned to Africa to continue working.  This time, however, we settled in the country of Burkina Faso, where my mother, father, and brother had been living before I was born.  Occasionally, our family goes on furlough to the United States for important medical appointments and the obtaining of needed goods.  These brief appearances in the United States are the only times when we feel like we are in an actual civilized environment.  Furthermore, ever since a year ago, the United States has become an important factor in my life because of the friends I made who live there.  For the great majority of my life, I could have cared less about keeping friendship overseas; now that I am in high school, however, I finally recognize the importance of maintaining friendships – however distant the friends may be.  It is good to know that despite my isolation and invisibility, I am still loved by both family and friends in the United States.

       In my early days, my parents never thought I would develop any appreciation for music at all.  Whenever we sang as a family in the living room with my mother playing the piano, I would just toddle around on the floor and not mind singing with the rest of the family.  In fact, it wasn’t until I was ten that my parents began to realize I had any interest in music at all.  It was at this point that we were on furlough, and I was given the opportunity to take piano lessons from a friend of ours.  I immediately grew enthusiastic about learning how to play the piano, and it wasn’t long before I played in my first recital.  As time went on, I continued developing my interest and skill in playing the piano.  As this enthusiasm grew, my interest in other areas of music began to light up.  Gradually I developed an interest in writing my own songs and putting lyrics to music.  By the time I was thirteen, it was evident that music would play an important role in my life.  I was writing my own songs and getting better and better on the piano.  The largest jump of all, however, didn’t come until our most recent furlough in 2009.  Huge transitions awaited me as I would begin high school in an American private school.  Despite the fact that I had every excuse to break down, I instead dove head-first into our 2009 furlough.  When I came out of it, I had taken my piano skills to an entirely new level and had begun learning guitar.  I was producing my own songs, and in the course of six months I had produced my first copyrighted album.  In only three months, I had picked up playing the acoustic and electric guitar as if I had been playing them my entire life.  With the purchase of a variety of audio recording equipment and computer software, I was immediately set to begin recording my own songs in near-professional quality.  My parents would never have dreamed I would dive so deep into the world of music, but it was certainly worth the investments they put into helping me.  In the private school I was attending, I became part of the school’s first praise & worship band.  This move led to the purchase of an electric keyboard, which has allowed me to open up the field of sharing my talents live.  Even after we left the United States and came back here to Africa, every moment I had spent developing my gifts in music had not been wasted.  With the electric keyboard I was able to begin playing for Sunday morning services at a local church, as well as play for a variety of other events that I was given the opportunity to be a part of.  My acoustic and electric guitar have not been abandoned either, and to this day they are an important part of my music life.  With the gifts God has given me and the equipment He has granted me, I am now able to write a song, record it, and produce it in a single weekend.  As a result, I currently have a great number of music albums planned to be produced in the next few years before I enter college.  Besides sheer talent, I have been blessed with a wide world of inspiration.  Through every phase of my life, God has revealed His glorious love, grace, and goodness.  I have been blessed by a loving family and a caring circle of friends, no matter how far away my friends may be.  I have every reason in the world to sing praises night and day to my Savior, and I intend on using every gift He has given me for His glory every day of my life.

       Besides music, of course, at this time in history I also have a great interest in the production of videos and forms of still art.  During this last furlough, I was also given the opportunity to take art lessons and learn a little bit about the world of the creation of pastel portraits and still life.  To this day, I feel blessed to have been given those opportunities, because I have been able to use them.  I am now happy to be able to produce portraits of pastel, water color paint, and acrylic paint.  I especially enjoy making portraits and other forms of art as gifts for my friends and family.  I have always enjoyed pencil sketching though I have not had time to develop my skills to their utmost.  Photography is another genre that I have developed an interest for.  With a generous gift of an old digital camera from an uncle, I have been able to express my taste for photography in so many ways.  Besides just being able to capture special moments in my life, photography has allowed me to develop skills in digital photo manipulation and Photoshop.  I have been frequently asked to develop banners and graphics art for websites.  When it comes to the video business, I feel that my ability to produce videos is an important factor for a number of reasons.  To begin with, I know it can be hard for my friends to stay friends with me without knowing very much about me and my environment, considering the fact that I live a long ways away.  As a result, I am happy to be able to stay in touch with them and show them some details of my life through the production of videos.  Still photographs are nice, but videos are the next best thing to actually being with a person.  Besides my use of videos to maintain a social life, I enjoy making videos simply as an extra hobby.  In the past few years I have developed an interest in the field of Lego stop motion.  Though the subject of stop motion videos requires a lot of patience, the rewards are very much worth the effort.

       I feel very blessed to be gifted in so many fields.  With these gifts, I am able to express to the world my emotions concerning the presence of a living and loving God.  I am able to maintain healthy relationships with my friends and family.  Without my gifts, my life in Africa would be unbearable monotonous.  I feel blessed to be able to sustain a variety of color in my life as a result of my interests in music, art, and videos.  In fact, I am now being able to develop a gift of eloquence.  As a result, at this very time in history I am writing a recount of my life as a missionary kid.  I am hoping that my own experiences can be used to encourage others who feel the same way I did when it comes to the feelings of isolation, hopelessness, fear vs. courage to get out of one’s comfort zone, and the wonderful blessings that come from following where God wants one to go.  I feel utterly blessed to be able to serve a living and loving God and express my emotions through the gifts that He has so generously blessed me with . . . as well as my personal experiences as living the life of a missionary kid.  When I’m grown up, I pray that I will look back on these years with a sense of complete thankfulness.  God is good, and I will follow Him wherever He leads me.  I have already learned that that is the best thing any person can do.



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