A TCK Interview: Life Long Love (Luke & Wendy – Part 2)

I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the second part of a 3 part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. (If you haven’t read part one, you can here.) Have fun reading!


Breanne: Can you share your love story?

Wendy: Well, Luke and I met when we were in fifth grade.

Breanne: Actually, can you tell us about the onion-garlic conversation? It’s hilarious.

Wendy: Yes! I’m going to give a bit of pretext to this. So Luke’s family moved to the Czech Republic. I had gone through a tough year at the British School. I didn’t have any friends. Then we heard, “Hey, a family is coming here with kids about your age, and they are coming to your school and your church!” I was like, “Yaaaas!” Then they said, “It’s a boy that’s your age.” I thought, “Darn it! I’m ten. I don’t want to hear that.” I was kind of bummed—no offense Luke. Now I’m not bummed at all. I’m the opposite of bummed.

We met the Yurkoviches – they were so quiet! Our family is lively. So we’re in the van with them, driving to one of our houses once after church, and it’s so quiet. I didn’t know what to say. So I turned to Luke, and I was like, “Your name means onion in Russian.” And then he turns to me and is like, “Yeah… it means garlic in Macedonian.”

*Everyone laughs*

He looked so forlorn, like “I was made fun of in Macedonian, and you’re bringing it up now?!”, like “Why..?”

Breanne: So good… *haha*

Wendy: So he was like, “Yep… that’s me. Thanks for bringing that up. Not that it’s a sore spot or anything.” I believe those might have been my first words to Luke. Unfortunately.

We went to the same school. We actually sat next to each other in 5th grade for the first few months of the year. And then I made a best friend and had a lovely time.

Luke doesn’t remember this, but his friends would tease me about liking Luke and tease him about liking me. I don’t really know why. There was a time when he and his friend were talking, and his friend stood up and was like, “WENDY! LUKE WANTS TO DANCE WITH YOU!” We had this valentine’s dance. And I responded with a sassy “No, he doesn’t!” and was really awkward about it. Luke does not remember this at all. His friend kept teasing me, and then I pushed him into a mud puddle. I was like, “Take that, Fran!” His name was Fran. Who names their kid Fran?

*Everyone is laughing hilariously at this point*

Luke like never spoke to me again for the rest of the year. I was thinking to myself, “I have made a horrible mistake. He might have liked me, but now he hates me because I pushed Fran into a mud puddle.”

I don’t know if Luke actually liked me in fifth grade. I don’t know if he even knows.

Luke: I don’t think I thought about it.

Wendy: No, I don’t either.

Breanne: You’re not that self-aware in fifth grade.

Wendy: No, you aren’t… It was a weird environment, though, where people asked people out and gave people chocolate and flowers…

Luke: It was like, the class… well not just the class, the whole vibe of the school was “What is the new drama?” If you were somebody who had like no drama, they would try and make it so that you had drama.

Breanne: Oh my goodness, tell me about it… That’s literally all my middle school years.

Wendy: For real… So I remember it was a rainy day. Luke was cupping his hands over Fran’s mouth, trying to get him to shut up. And Fran was like, “WENDY! WENDY!” And then I pushed him into a mud puddle. It was all very traumatizing. I did write about it in my journal. I was very proud of myself for pushing him in a mud puddle like he deserved… but enough about that. That is not the most crucial part of our story.

Luke: *haha*

Wendy: After that one year, I moved to the Christian international School in Prague, and Luke stayed at the British School. And I began to miss him, and my other friends, especially my best friend. But I also missed Luke. I would look forward to seeing him on Sundays. And I would think, “Why do I miss Luke? That’s weird.” By seventh grade, I definitely had a crush on Luke. And that um, continued, um, until this present moment.

*Luke silently laughs to himself*

Wendy: So in ninth grade, he came to the international Christian school, and life looked up a little bit from there. You want to take it from here?

Luke: Sure. I looked forward to going to that school. A lot of my friends were there. They were friends who weren’t super into the drama… at least sort of.

Wendy: At least it was wholesome.

Luke: For the most part. *haha* But anyway, there were friends that I looked up to. Wendy was one of them. I wanted to be with all those cool people. I was quite excited. I remember being on the bus sitting next to you. And you were like, “So what are you doing next year?” I said, “I’m actually going to CIC! (the school),” and you were like, “OH MY GOSH THAT’S SO GREAT!” and I was like, “YES I KNOW RIGHT?!!”

Wendy: I could barely hold in my excitement. I was so happy. 

Luke: Yeah, so I spent some time at the school. We were in the same class together and had a lot of random interactions. 

Breanne: As classmates do. 

Luke: Yep, by the time our junior year came around, there came a time when we had gotten back from a homeless outreach with our youth group. We were sitting at this McDonalds, as you do at 10 at night. Wendy asked me if she could talk with me.

Wendy: My heart was beating so fast.

Luke: She told me, “I feel these certain things. I have felt them for a while, and I wanted to say it.” I was grateful that she liked me. I think I could sense something was awkward between us. I didn’t know what or why. I felt relieved that she had said something. But at that time, I was actually interested in her best friend. It was a good conversation, but it was an awkward moment in our lives.

Wendy: I mean, it was awkward but not in the way the word is often used. It was more unfortunate.

Luke: Yeah. Because I don’t think we felt awkward afterward.

Wendy: Not at all.

Luke: It was actually quite helpful for our relationship. The air was cleared. Wendy now knew where my thoughts and emotions lied. Ironically, I was able to feel closer to her.

Wendy: It was good, though.

Luke: I did end up dating her friend for the next year or so.

Breanne: Poor, Wendy.

Wendy: Yeah, it was hard.

Luke: I wasn’t necessarily good at knowing what to do in a dating relationship. It was the first one. I didn’t know what to expect or what to talk about. It was more like a guy-girl friendship. Eventually, it became apparent there wasn’t chemistry. On our Senior trip, we ended up breaking up. It was an emotionally crazy time. I was relieved, but it was hard. It was an emotional end to the Senior year. During that time, I actually started feeling things for Wendy – in part because of the frankness and honesty that we had.

Wendy: It was about time!

Luke: Yeah… But the timing was just not great. I knew that it wasn’t smart to start any relationship at the end of high school senior year. I wasn’t going to do anything or say anything. But I did feel things. Whereas before, I didn’t really understand my feelings. But now I did. It was hard to know what to do. I ended up feeling stuff but not saying anything. That was the end of our interactions. It was not the best way to say goodbye, but we carried our feelings for the rest of our story. We moved to different colleges.

When I was in the USA at college, I tried to shut off my TCK life. Not because I was ashamed of it, but I was like, “It’s time to move on.” It wasn’t practical. I knew I wasn’t going to interact with most of the people in my high school again, I wasn’t going to move back to Prague, so it wasn’t practical.

The next time we saw each other was a year after graduation. I was living with some friends of mine from high school in Tennessee. Wendy wrote to me about an assignment she had.

Wendy: Yes, so I went to college, and I studied Psychology. One of our Psych professors was very like, you know, female empowerment, and “It’s your turn to initiate girls. Don’t wait for a man to ask you out. Ask him out.”

Breanne: That’s funny.

Wendy: This should not be allowed. But she gave us an extra credit assignment to ask somebody out on a date. I was like, “What?” but also, “I want that extra credit.” Little Wendy, who had a 97 percent in the class, thought, “I must have this extra credit.” Must. So I write Luke, and I’m like, hey… so I have this assignment. I explained the project and was very real about it. Luke responded with a “sure, sounds fun.” My heart is beating a million times an hour. I’m telling myself, I do not like this guy anymore. Why do I feel so many things right now? We talked, and it was so good. It felt so normal and natural. It felt great to chat and catch up.

(Later on, Wendy went and spent some time with Luke and his friends, and they spent some time together, both felt what Wendy describes as an “aching soul” emotion. Wendy had come with an innocent excitement to see Luke and was now confused. Luke was at a low in his life and concluded it just wouldn’t work.

If you want more in between details, check out their full story at the Wandering Optimist.)

Luke: There came a time when I was living in Indiana. I had graduated from college and was without much of a direction in my life. It had sort of came back around to me that I was actually a TCK, that I could think of myself in that way. Besides that, I didn’t have very many lasting friendships from the States. I was remembering my feelings for Wendy. I now desired to be connected to my past and to tie it to my present. I was also thinking about the future. What did I really want life to look like? I came to the point of asking myself, “Am I going to live with this regret of not seeing where this could have gone with Wendy if I don’t make some sort of initiative right now?” And so, after a lot of talking and thinking about it and wrestling with it myself, I finally reached out to her. After a couple of video calls, we had the conversation. I told her I felt things for her. I was unsure what that would look like because dating online, across the ocean, is a little complicated. (Wendy had moved to Istanbul by then.) Wendy decided that she needed a week to think about it.

Wendy: I was freaking out. I couldn’t believe that the thing that I had been aching for my entire life was actually happening to me. I was just sitting there in complete awe and wonder, thinking, “Lord, what do I do?!” I guess I had also protected myself from thinking that Luke could ever actually like me. The thought that he would was so weird to me. I took a week to think about it. After a week, I asked him some tough questions. I don’t know what I wanted or expected, but he definitely delivered. It was terrific. I said yes to dating him.

Then we found out that our friends were getting married in Hawaii and they were paying for both of us to go. That was crazy. So we had our first date in Hawaii.

Then a couple months later, he moved to Istanbul. The rest is history.

Breanne: That it is.


If you find this story absolutely amazing and want more, check out their full story here.

Isn’t God amazing? He used their experiences to mature them and bring them closer to Him, yet He didn’t let their “aching soul” feeling go in vain. He had a grand plan for them.

Keep on the lookout for the final part of the interview! Part 3 is my favorite part, as they share a lot of truth and encouragement.


Credits to Andrea Stewart Photography for the beautiful picture.


Have you been enjoying this interview? Would you like me to do more of these?

A TCK Interview: Finding Our Identities (Part 1)

I had the privilege of doing an hour-long (!) interview with some friends of mine, an ATCK Christian couple: Luke & Wendy. I had so much fun talking to them… listening to their stories about identity, belonging, love and truth… This is the first part of a 3 or 4 (I still don’t know) part series that I will be releasing over several weeks. Have fun reading!


Breanne: Thank you so much for letting me interview you for my blog! I wanted to ask both of you to tell your individual stories and your very unique love story if that’s ok.

Wendy: Luke, do you want to go first with your individual TCK story?

Luke: Yeah, well, I was born in the States, but when I was two years old, my family moved to Macedonia. My parents served in the church there, and we lived there for eight years. After that, we spent a year in the States in Ohio, and then we moved to Prague, Czech Republic, and we were there for eight years again. After that, I went to college in the states, and my family moved back to the States temporarily. Then my parents moved back to Macedonia. I stayed in Indiana, where I was going to college. And then, well, I actually crossed my life with Wendy’s and ended up moving to Istanbul. So that’s like a brief synopsis of where I lived.

In general, I think my reaction to life as a Third Culture Kid has been mostly one of going with the flow. My parents were very considerate of us kids. They definitely wanted our input and wanted us to feel like we were heard, which was really great. But for the most part, I just kind of went with whatever… *haha* was going on.

When we moved away from Macedonia for the first time, I was young enough to not really understand what was going on. But I was old enough to trust my parents to do something good. But it wasn’t something I remember honestly, like the moving part. Like precisely right when we moved, I don’t actually remember much of that, which is kind of interesting.

Breanne: Yeah, ‘cause you think that would be the part you would remember the most.

Luke: Yeah, maybe it was traumatic or something, I don’t know. *haha* No, I don’t think it was that bad.

Anyway, it was a lot of exploring the new space that I found myself in, but kind of on my own. I sort of developed a kind of outsider perspective wherever I went. I kind of had my own little world that I lived in for the first few months of being in a new space, maybe a couple of years, who knows?

But no matter where I moved, after a while, God always blessed me with friends. So I could find at least one or two people that I felt welcomed by and sort of make a life there, with those friendships, which is really a blessing.

Breanne: Luke, I was reading your guys’ story on Wondering Optimist, Wendy’s website. I remember hearing something about you wanting to be as American as possible during your college years. I think it would be fascinating to hear more about that.

Luke: Moving to America was different from every other time I moved. I first moved to America when I was ten. I was too young to really…

Breanne: Everything’s an adventure when you’re ten!

Luke: Yeah, but when I moved to college, I sort of experienced the States as a place where I was expected to fit in more than I actually felt that I could. So I kind of tried to work with that. Like I said, I tried to go with the flow. And the flow was expecting me to be American. I didn’t really mind that at the time. Honestly, I thought it was interesting because I never really knew or could be American until I tried it.

Wendy: Did you succeed?

Luke: I don’t really think I succeeded *haha*

(Everyone laughed)

Luke: Well, I succeeded in some ways. I made friends there and identified with people about things that weren’t just about being a TCK, you know? So in that way, I succeeded. But that wasn’t necessarily an American aspect of me. It was just identifying with people as individuals.

But I always sort of felt like I was missing something. And I think that was because I was pushing my past away, in my mind. Thinking, “Ok, that was part of my life that I need to move on from.” In thinking that way, I sort of stabbed myself in the foot, as it were because it stopped me from feeling fully home wherever I was. Once I embraced that I am a TCK again and that it is actually significant and good, it helped to move forward with my desires… to figure out what I actually want. ‘Cause being a TCK affects the things I want.

Breanne: Thank you! That’s awesome. Your turn Wendy…

Wendy: Alright! My story is quite similar to Luke’s. I was born in a tiny town in Illinois called Winfield. My dad was going through seminary at the time, and my mom worked for a proofreading company. When I was two, and my brother was less than one, we moved to Ukraine. It was Donetsk Ukraine, as in the Eastern side of Ukraine, so very Russian. It was right after the Iron Curtain came down, so right after the Soviet Union disintegrated. My parents served in the church in Ukraine. My father worked as a pastor and in the seminary. We lived there for four years until my brother Jackson began to struggle with asthma. It really became clear that it wasn’t the right place for him and his health. So we went back to the States for one year. And then to Austria for a year. Lastly, we moved to the Czech Republic. It was like four countries and four schools and four different languages in four years. I was six when we left Ukraine. My first grade year in the States was in a private Christian and super-white school. And then we moved to Austria, Vienna, and I went to my first Christian International school. It was my first International school experience, and it was the best. It was there, in second grade, that I discovered I was actually an extrovert. Before that, I was just in my own little world… I remember I felt really distant in Ukraine and the States. When I moved to second grade in this International School, I was like, “Oh my gosh, everyone is different, and it’s ok that I am different from all these people. I don’t need to fit in because no one fits in.” It was so freeing. I made friends with this guy from Kenya named Tumani, and we would play soccer together. It was such a great year. I felt accepted for exactly who I felt I wanted to be. Very liberating.

Then we moved to Prague, and I started going to this British International School. That actually took me back into my own little world somewhat because there were a particular culture and a certain way of being… It was mostly for business kids; they were primarily British, I didn’t really fit in. It was a time of a bit of hardship, I guess? That was just a different genre of a TCK that I hadn’t interacted with yet, and a lot of them weren’t believers. That pushed me into a different headspace, and it was hard not to fit in with that; they were into some dark stuff as well. That was my first experience of like, “Oh, I need to be careful with what I hang out around. I shouldn’t be watching these movies.” It was just kind of dark. I guess that was when I needed to choose not to fit in, consciously, which was different. Because as a TCK, you automatically just want to adapt, at least I do. In a way, I’ve always wanted to adapt, but I never remember actually adapting. I was always like, “but I am my own person. I am Wendy, and no one else is.” I really embraced the “I am different from you” kind of mentality.

And so we switched schools to a Christian international School, which Luke joined later. I think my story is more complicated in some ways. The lack of control I felt I dealt with in some negative ways. I think I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression, which resulted from not feeling in control. Some expat families are rooted where they are, but our family wasn’t like that. Every year they’d be like, “We’ll see, we’ll see”… It gave me an uncertain feeling of “Do I learn Czech, do I not? I don’t know. What’ll happen? I hope I don’t leave my friends”. I think I felt out of control. I do think I suffered from the effects of those sorts of things.

Going to college, I went to college after working on my mental health for a long time, which helped me stay ok and process. And unlike Luke, I embraced my TCK-ness in college. I joined the intercultural organization. I wanted to be involved with TCKs and find internationals. I really made an effort to get to know multicultural people. I think I felt most at home in a diverse community.

The first two years of college were really hard. After that, however, I started to realize that everyone had a really complex story. There were so many other ways of finding diversity and different perspectives. That really kept me sane in college. I was blessed by rooming with a foster kid and hearing her story, and having a bunch of friends who were Vietnamese… I hadn’t met many people who were Vietnamese.

When college was coming to an end, I had studied abroad in Italy. Then after that, I came to Turkey to visit my parents in Istanbul. This was like my junior year of college. I remember thinking, “I think I could live here. I really like Istanbul.” And I really liked Italy as well. I thought to myself, “Man, America’s cool, but I really do feel more at home here, on this side of the world.

Some TCKs are like, I’ve moved, I don’t want to anymore, I want to settle down and put down roots. I had the opposite. I want to keep being a nomad, totally up to that hippie life; let’s go!.. Everyone at college knew me as the European cultured hippie Wendy who liked art and wanted to travel the world again. That was kind of my identity already. I just embraced that.

After college, I backpacked through Europe to Istanbul, and I started my life here. And yeah, I think I will be connected to the international community my entire life. It’s so much a part of who I am… feeling more like a global citizen than an American citizen. My identity is nuanced. More and more people than we realize have that. Whether they have a passport or not. They can be multicultural, multiethnic in some way.


Come back this next weekend for the Part 2: A Long Lost Love!


Credits to @istanbul.lovestory on Instagram for the picture