Strangers in a Strange Land: Assessing the Experience of Latter-day Saint Expatriate Families

The word expatriate is derived from Latin ex, meaning out, and patria, meaning fatherland. In a broad sense, an expatriate is defined as anyone living outside his or her native land. Prominent scriptural expatriates include Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Lehi and his family, the Apostle Paul, and Moroni. In a sense, all of us are spiritual expatriates with plans and hopes of ultimately returning to our home of origin.

For the purposes of this article, I define expatriates as those who retain citizenship in their home country and normally maintain family, social, financial, and professional ties there, but who move their domicile to another country, intending to pursue their career and live their life abroad indefinitely. These long-term, “perennial expatriate” families are committed to living, working, and raising their children in a foreign setting. The following discussion will focus on long-term expatriate Latter-day Saint families who live primarily in developing countries, mostly because my frame of reference and circle of expatriate associations are grounded in my family’s ten-year experience living in the developing world.

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